Lake Chapala Weather


Green Group Speaker Series Ends with Mar 4, 2014 Meeting


 Dear Green Groupers,

I have enjoyed 6 wonderful years as the director of the Lake Chapala Green Group.  We have had over 50 presentations in this time on sustainable topics and I am constantly amazed at the quality and professionalism of our speakers.  I hope these presentations have been of benefit to you as well.
It has become more difficult to continue our speaker series and unfortunately we will be ending our monthly presentations in March.  I appreciate all the support you have shown over the years and hope you have gained some interesting perspectives on topics of sustainability.
I wish you all the best and hope you will continue your own projects and efforts in this most important area.

Best Regards,

Greg Ochs
Lake Chapala Green Group


The  website will also shut down within 30 days.

Keep going green!

Bob Craft


Lakeside Joins "March Against Monsanto"

More than 120 Lakeside residents, Mexicans and Expats, rallied at the lake front, shouted support for speakers, and marched through the streets of Ajijic bearing signs, thereby joining the worldwide "March Against Monsanto" called for this day. Monsanto, the giant global chemical, biotech, and agricultural corporation has drawn widespread criticism for its apparent attempt to patent and control the world's use seeds by promoting  "GMO" genetically-modified seeds and plants. Increasing numbers of people around the world believe GMO products to be insufficiently tested, harmful to health, and a threat to natural foods and to the farmers that grow them. Especially at risk are the many varieties of native Mexican corn, a fundamental element of the country's food and culture.

Our local event was organized in ten days by a coalition of Lakeside's environmentally-concerned groups and individuals. It was met with enthusiasm by its participants and—going by facial expressions of some—wonderment by some local villagers as the "parade' passed by.

See these websites for more information about the issues and today's worldwide response:




“Gaia’s Freshwater: An Oncoming Crisis”

By Barbara Harwood (Ajijic’s own Pia Aitken)

Excerpted, with permission of the author, from Chapter 9 in Eileen Crist (Editor), H. Bruce Rinker (Editor), Bill McKibben (Foreword), Gaia in Turmoil: Climate Change, Biodepletion and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis, MIT Press, 2010, pages 151-162. (Amazon Link)

Water versus Papayas

I stared for what seemed like hours at the beautiful young papaya tree of our family garden. Four years old already, it had four giant papayas ripening at the base of its leaves, and several other smaller ones draping around its core above. But it had planted itself in the wrong place—the only logical corner in our garden to put the three rainwater collection tanks above ground so they could gravity-feed our organic garden.

Despite our living 200 yards from Mexico’s largest inland body of water, Lake Chapala, we worry about water. The water table below us has dropped about 250 feet in the last five years from burgeoning development. We have an extensive rainy season each summer and fall—from four to six months long—and the rain pours off the mountains above and to the north of us and into the lake, replenishing it by several inches each season.

But there are still problems with the lake. First, it is long, wide, and very shallow. Because it is so shallow, more water evaporates from it each year than is removed by the city of Guadalajara for use as the sole water supply for its five million people. There is also tremendous waste of water as it is withdrawn. Guadalajara has such a leaky water system, experts say, that upward of 40 percent of the water it imports from the Lake Chapala drains away unused. Add to that the chemical contamination of the lake from heavy metals in industries that border its primary river source, the Lerma, and the pesticide contamination from farmers on its borders, and you have an endangered, polluted lake, unfit to serve the freshwater needs of the communities that now line its shores. As I contemplated our papaya tree, I realized that this is the same sort of water supply predicament nearly everyone on this planet is either already facing or will face within the next few years.

Water Challenges in China

On the other side of the planet from Mexico, in northwest China’s Shanxi Province, a farmer named Qiao Sanshi sits on a low wooden stool near his rainwater collection “cellar,” a tank barely below ground, patiently waiting for a visitor. He is clutching in his hand the most precious gift he can offer that person: a glass of water. Because over five thousand such cellars for collecting rain have been installed in his small Hequ County, he can provide to a guest something which most of us still take for granted. But in many parts of north China, where water tables are dropping by a meter or more every year, this is impossible. One in three people living outside cities in China have no access to safe drinking water.

Dropping water tables are also affecting China’s food supply. Its wheat harvest, grown largely in the semi-arid north, has dropped precipitously in this century. From 2002 to 2004 China went from being essentially self-sufficient in wheat to being the world’s largest importer (Brown 2005: 102). In a country where jobs created by industrial development barely stay ahead of population growth, farmers regularly lose the water battle with industry. As long as the world wheat supply can provide imports to feed the Chinese, this is viable. But with water tables falling worldwide and rivers being drained, China’s dependence on grain imports may not be sustainable over the long term. The country’s water emergency is dire. With 22 percent of the world’s population and only 6 percent of its water resources, China is among the world’s thirstiest countries. According to China’s own news organization, over 400 of China’s 699 major cities are water short and 50 of those are labeled “seriously threatened,” including Beijing, whose depleted groundwater led a Beijing wit to send relatives an email invitation to the 2008 Olympics with B.Y.O.W. at the bottom: Bring your own water.

Click to read the complete article (pdf).


ACÁ's Great Greens Organic Farm Closes March 31, 2011

Great Greens was Lakeside's first organic farm. It has been an inspiration for others and set the standard for organic farming in the region. It has reached its long term goals with extensive community activities and the many accomplishments of the ACÁ Eco Training Center. ACÁ's ambitious goals were underwritten by grants to its non-profit educational arm and donations and support from individuals many of whom volunteered tirelessly at the farm and events. Great Greens, which started as a demonstration garden 15 years ago, has become the premier organic label in the area.

Despite the many accomplishments, with the ending of their major grant support the operation’s resources have been pushed to their limit. The departure of Wendee Hill from the organization almost a year ago impacted administration and the educational mission of ACÁ had been put on hold.

In the past six months, with the help of the Friends of ACÁ, a serious attempt has been made to sustain the farm by planting more and selling more. The Adopt-a-Row project has resulted in a large increase in the number of rows planted and harvested. However, results indicate it is not possible to make the farm a self-sustainable operation with production and sales sufficient to cover its operating expenses.

"This is a great loss for Lakeside," comments Greg Ochs of the Friends of ACÁ. "For farmers in this area, ACÁ has been a source of training and information that enables them to farm without the dangerous chemicals frequently used here. For schoolchildren and their teachers, ACÁ's school programs have been the means for kids to learn how to grow their own vegetables and raise poultry and livestock while being good to the land and their animals. And for organic greens lovers like me, it has meant the freshest and finest of baby lettuce, arugula, cooking greens, green beans and much else."

ACÁ as a registered Mexican charitable organization (AC), and the Great Greens label will be maintained with the hope of resurrection in the future.—Judith Baehr.


Japan Earthquake & Tsunami: How to Give


Give what you can!

If you have iTunes on your Mac or PC, this is easiest. No forms to fill out. (100% goes to American Red Cross.)

Text REDCROSS (in all capital letters) to 90999 to give $10 (American Red Cross).

Salvation Army USA's Japan Donations Page.

American Red Cross at

Cruz Roja Americana. Forma en Español.

Canadian Red Cross at

Canada: Text the word ASIA, in all capital letters, to 30333 to give $10.

ABC News list of relief organizations.