By: Dr. Laura Monti, Borderlands Restoration Senior Fellow, Research Associate, University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and The Southwest Center
In our blog series update about the work of the Salud Comcáac team, that includes BRN Senior Fellow Laura Monti, we turn to renewable energy and food security. The lack of access to affordable energy, clean water and healthy food threatens the long-term survival of the Comcáac Indigenous communities. Thanks to support of the Honnold Foundation, in Desemboque the community well and about half the homes now have photovoltaic solar panels installed, reducing energy costs by two thirds and eliminating carbon emissions.
Working alongside the Solarex Enterprise engineers were Comcáac solar technician leaders Veronica Molina and Cecilia Moreno who received additional training in solar panel installation.
These new panels do more than provide renewable energy and clean water, they also provide shade, another resource in short supply. The panels create a buffer against the intense heat and aridity of the Sonoran coast. A food security team led by Mayra Astorga and Gary Nabhan are testing the idea to see what traditional foods and herbs grow well in these new shady spots.
Punta Chueca food security team leader Erica Barnett has also launched a community garden program to increase the availability of healthy foods with support of the Instituto Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas.
An inaugural community celebration was held to revitalize the consumption of the traditional food, eelgrass. The seeds of this seagrass contain dense concentrations of nutrients and beneficial oils. Read more about the seagrass and mangrove restoration project here.
In addition, the Comcáac Mesquite Collective, made up of community members who collect mesquite beans to roast and grind by mortar and pestle, produced 150 pounds of mesquite flour providing an additional income source from sales. Much thanks to Juliet Jivanti and the Borderlands Restoration Network Mesquite Stewardship Program for your help with sales!
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