Top row: Andrew Zwald, Rosalia Lugo, Fernando Prospero Bernal, Darwin Heredia Nava, Amalia Susana Jaimez García, Juan Pablo Anaya Ortega, Jennifer Holle, Carlos Galdino Martinez Garcia, Michel Wattiaux
Bottom row: Jacob Brey, Karen Schlichter, Kestrel Schmidt, Corie Borchert, Lydia Hardie, Claudia Hardie
Itinerary - August 15th - 29th
The Study Guide is a 60+ page document designed to help students get the most from the field study program. It Includes the following sections: Thank-You's and Participant list, Field study expectations; Portfolio guidelines; Tips to make the most of the field study, Group Activities; Maps, Daily site visit pages, and Evaluation, reflection and assessment. Study Guide Download (4 MB pdf).
Synopsis of Daily Schedule
Day 1 — Monday 8/15 — Travel to Mexico City
Day 2 — Tuesday 8/16 — Pyramids of Teotihuacán — Alpura Dairy Plant
- Teotihuacán is a United Nations World Heritage archaeologic sites. The Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History manages the site. Practice your Spanish and view video of Teotihuacán here. We'll try to get there by 9:00-10:00 am.
- Alpura is the second largest dairy cooperative in Mexico. We will visit their processing plant located in the outskirt of Mexico city in Cuatitlán. The visit has been scheduled for 3:30 pm. Practice your Spanish and learn about Alpura here.
- At about 6:30 pm, we will drive out of the busy Mexico city to Temascaltepec, a small town near Zacozonapan where we will have an early visit the next morning. We anticipate arrival time at Temascaltepec at 10:00 pm.
Day 3 — Wednesday 8/17 — Tropical Dual Purpose in Zacazonapan — Trout Farming & Orchid Production in Temascaltepec
- We will leave our hotel early (6:45 am) and drive about one hours in mountainous regions before arriving at Zacazonapan where we will visit the dual-purpose herd of Chucho (Jesus Arroyo) who milk his cows only once a day. We want to arrive at the farm before the end of the morning (hand-milking) and before cows go to pasture.
- After the farm visit we will walk to Chucho's house where his milk is hauled everyday. His wife will show us how she make cheese for the local market.
- Then, we will return to Temascaltepec for two visits that Benito our local host from la UAEM will have organized for us. The first will be to a small holder trout farm and the second will be to a greenhouse orchid production. Both should be quite "different"!
- Finally, we will head to Toluca, the capital city of the State of Mexico where we'll spend the night before heading North for our Thursday visits.
Day 4 — Thursday 8/18 — Indigenous Campesinos Mazahua — San Felipe del Progreso
- The Mazahua campesino community located in San Felipe del Progreso is located about 2 hours north west of Toluca. This community was featured in one of the article we read during the spring semester. It lies in wind-swept hilltops where individual households are connected to each other by small walking dirt roads. Once we arrive in the community, we will likely walk from one side to another side of hills and visit with local small holders under the guidance of the local community leader. Our local guide will help us understand how the UAEM project have been designed to work with the community on their own terms. Lunch today may be in the form of a barbecue at the household of the head of community, Don Heriberto, if I recall correctly). As the day goes by and we walk around, pay attention to the surrounding and imagine what daily-life is such apparently idyllic place might be like. You will see many livestock species ("Barbacoa") sheep, donkey, horses, and poultry all over the place. Last time we visited there is one one household with a holstein-looking cow and her calf.
- Later in the day we'll head north passing through Atlacomulco as we drive through beautiful mountains areas of Central Mexico until we arrive in Aculco where we will spend the night in Hotel Hidalgo, that will likely rank low on our star system of classification.
Day 5 — Friday 8/19 — Smallholder Dairy and Cheese-making in Aculco
- Alculco, a small town of (population 40,000) that has become a hot bed of dairy production and cheese making in the State of Mexico. If you check your map, you will see that there is highway just north of Aculco that links Mexico City to Quéreatro. Throng of people trying to get out of town for the week-end have found places like Aculco to be the perfect week-end escape. It's small, somewhat historical and you can load up on great local cheese before heading back to "the Ciuadad" before Monday arrives.
- In the last 3-4 years Don Eduardo has allowed us to visit his 10-15 cow operation. Cows are milked by hand twice a day and shipped to a local cheese factory. On his small plot of land, Don Eduardo grows corn and pasture. Corn grain goes for human consumption primarily. Cow are fed "corn hay" (i.e., corn stalk, staked and stored as if it were hay). Also pasture is not preserved as hay or made into silage but rather cut and carried every day. It's hard work. Don Eduardo's would like to improve his operation, but many uncertainties, difficulities and fears are interfering with his trust that he has the ability to change.
- In the afternoon, our travel will take us to a local cheese-maker. At every one of the visits of the last three years, Ramon's family cheese factory business had made tremendous improvement in quality control, standard operating procedures and sanitation of his small family cheese-making business. He is looking forward to possibly creating a local brand name and a commercial "label" for his products.
- In the evening, as we drive away from Aculco, we will hit the highway referred to above. You'll notice immediately the difference in the landscape. We are leaving the "Campesinos Highlands" behind us for now! We will be driving to Tequisquiapan, a town in the State of Quéretaro that has a Colonial Center where you will have the opportunity of a relaxing, enjoyable walk in the square with beautifully illuminated cathedral against the dark of the might.
Day 6 — Saturday 8/20 — La Hondonada (Organic Jerseys) — Querétaro Historic Center
- La Hondanada, an organic Jersey herd that processes and sells its own products under the "Flor de Alfalfa" label will provide a stark contrast to what we will have seen in San Felipe de Progreso or in Aculco. For us in this trip, these places are just a few hours apart, an "overnight" difference, but from the perspective of the producers, we might as well have landed on a different planet. Last time we visited this site a few years ago, the owner had hired a manager to help him work through the Mexican and European bureaucracies go get the permit to export his organic products to Europe. As we visit, let' remember to find out more about their marketing strategy and international aspiration! Jesus Olmos our colleague from Mexico made the contact to plan this visit. Fabiola Olvera will likely be our tour guide. I sure hope that we will have the opportunity to visit with other individuals working on the various management aspects of the farm, especially pasture management (and irrigation), feeding and reproductive program of the herd.
- It's Saturday and our afternoon will take us to the Historical Center of Quéretaro, the capital of the state of Quéretaro. Lots of Mexican History took place in Quéretaro not the least of which was a "secret message" sent out in the form of a "rallying cry" that started the War of Independence from Spain. Our hotel (youth hostel, really, Meson de Carolina) will be on the edge of, but within the colonial center. This is where we will have "good byes" and "Hellos'. We will meet Jesus Olmos and two of his students at the Hotel but this is the place also where we will leave our bus driver, as another bus company (from Jalisco) will be in charge of getting us around as we continue on our second week journey through Jalisco.
Day 7 — Sunday 8/21 — La Serpentina (dairy goats) — Travel to San Juan de Los Lagos
- We'll try to take it easy. It's Sunday after all. Yet, because we are so close from my friend Carlos Peraza, I am very much looking forward to have you visit his herd of dairy goat and cheese factory. Carlos is a highly educated man who got his Ph.D. from France where he learned how to make goat cheese 30+ years ago. After working as university professor for a number of years Carlos decide to put in action what he was teaching to his students. He bought a narrow and long ("Serpentina") strip of semi-arid dry land and decided that he would derive value from this otherwise unhospitable-looking landscape by using solar energy (i.e., photosynthesis) and rumen microbes that live in symbiosis with their host goats to produced milk and then cheese. Carlos is a dynamic person with broad knowledge of the natural environment. He will answer any question we may have about goat production, but he will tell us also about the medicinal properties of the myriad of cacti and other desert-type plants that are the "natural pasture" land for his goats. Carlos has received national awards for his cheese!
- Our goal for the rest of this day will be to reach San Juan de Los Lagos in the State of Jaliso. San Juan is famous for its cathedral and "virgen." Millions of Catholics from all parts of Mexico come here to pray the virgen; Jean-Paul II, the former Pope came to San Juan during his papacy. San Juan is also the home-town of Jesus Olmos who was instrumental in planning all the visits of the coming week ! We'll have two nights in the same Hotel for the first time in this trip. You may want to get your laundry ready! Hopefully you will provide a good thank-you compensation for the ladies who will provide us with this laundry service. Also, San Juan might be a good place to some shopping at the market or stores. What ever you might be interested in buying will likely be cheaper (and authentically Mexican) here than in any other place on our trip.
Day 8 — Monday 8/22 — PROAN (Feed mill, packaging, eggs and industrial dairy)
- PROAN is a Spanish acronym for "ANimal PROteins, that is "PROteinas ANimales." The family business started back in the late 1950's when Sr. Manel Romo grew a few chickens in his backyard. Forty some years later, the farm includes one of the largest feed mill in Latin America, 200 million laying hens (producing 15% of all the eggs consumed in Mexico), 200 thousand sows and a dairy facilities with more than 5,000 cows. Please make sure your visit their bi-lingual website to get background information. See also this news article (in Spanish): El productor de huevo más grande de Latinoamérica
- If we repeat our standard PROAN visit, we will stop first at the feed mill and climb the 5-story tall building for a fantastic views of the region and locations of various "units" of production. Each unit / site is isolated from others for biosecurity reasons, which is a big concern for PROAN. Then, we will be visiting some of the packaging and recycling facilities before heading to Santo Domingo, which is where one of the dairy is located.
- The PROAN visit should make you think about the Livestock Revolution that we discussed in class this spring. As we visit the feed mill where most of the corn, soybean, minerals and amino acid supplements are coming from (answer: The United States). What role does the U.S. Dairy Industry play in the Livestock Revolution? What role should it play? Thinking of our discussion on economic, social and environmental sustainability issues, what are the strength and weakness of an industrial model of production offered by PROAN? This visit should provide a lot of "food for thoughts", especially if you now compare dairy production in PROAN to dairy production in Aculco.
- At the end of a long but exciting day we will return to San Juan de Los Lagos.
Day 9 — Tuesday 8/23 — CUALTOS in Tepatitlán — PROLEA Coop. in Acatic | Travel to Autlán
- Moving on, we will head south west, a direction we will keep for most of the week, as we move through our site visits through Jalisco. As we cut across the state of Jalisco diagonally we will be going down in altitude (elevation) from about 1700 meters above see level in San Juan to sea level when we will reach to coast on Friday (see your maps).
- The Centro Universitario de Los Altos (CUAltos) is a relatively new campus that is part of the Universidad de Guadalajara. Believe it or not, since 1990, Jalisco and Wisconsin are sister states. Just like we have a University of Wisconsin systems with 13 campuses, The University of Guadalajara is now structured similarly. CUAltos, CUCSUR and CUCBA are three of the satellite campuses whose scientists will help us understand some of the major regional issues within their field of expertise during the remaining segment of our study program.
- PROLEA is a dairy cooperative of small and mid-size dairy producers. One of the interesting service provided by the cooperative is heifer raising. Given high mortality rate of young calves on farms, the cooperative members can elect to send new born heifer calf to the cooperative for a 2-year raising program. The ideas was probably well-reasoned, but as you'll find out during the visit, its implementation has room for improvement. At our last visit, PROLEA was in the process of initiating a process plant to produce yoghurt and dairy drinks. I am curious to find out how much progress was made in the last year.
- In mid afternoon we'll get back to our vehicle and travel for one of the longest "road trip": a 3-4 hr journey to Autlan de Navarro, a valley surrounded by mountains.
Day 10 — Wednesday 8/24 — Mountain Biosphere Reserve (Sierra de Manatlán & Expt. Stn. "Las Joyas")
- Wouldn't it be a shame to drive all around Mexico for two weeks without spending some times on its beach? Well, you know that our day on the beach is approaching, but before we get there, we'll visit a hidden treasure of Mexico: the Biosphere Reserve of Manatlán. Research on natural conservation and natural regeneration processes are conducted by CUCSUR scientists from the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources at the experimental station of "Las Joyas", located at the heart of the reserve. This is a unique place because of the extreme diversity in the flora and fauna. Interestingly, a UW-Madison plant scientists Hugh Iltis contributed to the discovery of the ancestor of modern corn in the late 1970's in the Biosphere Reserve. Practice your Spanish and read more about teocintle (ancestral corn) in the background page of their website.
- Weather permitting, we will drive up the mountain on four-wheel drive pick-up trucks. We will walk around the station and have a guided tour though the reserve. There will be no shower and the toilets are designed to be very environmentally friendly (if you see what I mean!). There is no electricity other than batteries and thus once darkness overtakes the open sky, we may choose to settle down for conversation, and each other's company around the kitchen table or we might decide to go for a night walk with our flash lights. Let's hope for no overcast, an open sky at this elevation, free from any light pollution would allow us to see the myriad of stars that we would otherwise not observe. Getting a little bit out of our comfort zone and convenience of modern life will be worth the experience of one overnight in sierra Manantlán!
Day 11 — Thursday 8/25 — Return from Mountain to Autlán — Tomato production or CUCSUR scientists (Rio Ayuquilla) | Travel to La Huerta
- After breakfast, we will pack and take the winding, bumpy road out of the biosphere reserve and down the mountain toward Autlán de Navarro.
- Out afternoon here remain uncertain as I write this narrative. Although the initial plan was to visit greenhouse where tomato are grown for export to the U.S. (remember what NAFTA stands for?), it appears that this visit might not be possible. Instead we might, if possible spend some time with Luis Manuel, director of the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources and his team of scientist to discuss the very interesting story of the Rio Ayuquila. It is a case study of tension between economic growth, environmental quality and social struggle that illustrate very well the concept of sustainable development that we have discussed in class. Salvador Garcia may show us the program that he has been involved in to educate people in the community (which does not have landfills) to use garbage cans, to recycle and to think about sustainable living.
- Toward the end of the afternoon, we'll get back in our mini-bus to drive to La Huerta. We will be getting quite near the Pacific Ocean! We will be staying the night at the dorms of CUCBA. It will be a new experience for all of us.
Day 12 — Friday 8/26 — Tropical dual-purpose —Tropical crops (Chili, sugar cane)
- For the first time this year, we have plan a series of visits with colleagues at CUCBA (Centro Universitario de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias). Ing. Víctor Manuel Arias Godínez, direct of the experimental farm from the University of Guadalajara, CUCBA, will be out host. His email indicated a series of choices for us including:
Numbers in parentheses are the mean score of your vote on a scale of 1 (top visit) to 5 (lowest priority visit). As number 1 and 2 are clear winners, we request that Manuel takes us to visit the dual purpose cattle production units and the Mango trees!
Leaving La Huerta behind us, we will be heading toward the port city of Manzanillo. This coastal city where we will enjoy our first night on the beach. INternational trade will be in our mind as we watch those trans-oceanic barges full of containers going to the Eastern / Asian nations or coming from Eastern / Asian nations.
- Dual purpose cattle production (1.83);
- Mango plantation (50 different varieties) (2.00);
- Trial plots of (tropical) pastures (3.17);
- Sugar cane plantation (3.33);
- Cheese factory processing 5000 L of milk per day (3.50).
Day 13 — Saturday 8/27 — Dual Purpose Cattle Production under Coconut Tree Plantation — Tecoman
- Although we will probably have seen dual-purpose cattle yesterday, this visit will give us the opportunity to see facilities that were designed to help demonstrate to local smallholders management techniques of Bos Indicus (Zebu) x Bos Taurus (European cattle) both for milk and meat. The context is interesting to understand. There is a large cement company (Holcim Apasco-Tecoman Plant) that acquired lots of land to satisfy its growth and as part of land transaction negotiations, the company agreed to sponsor this farm as a way to help local farmers learn tropical livestock production techniques that they might consider applying on their own farm. This will be the last of our livestock-related visits.
- In the afternoon, we'll return to Manzanillo where we will spend some of the afternoon for individual and group reflection time. We will have seen a lot of new things in the trip related to Mexico, its agriculture, and its dairy systems. It will take time to process all that information. This afternoon's goal is just to start this process. You should use this relaxing time and place to reflect and "fill in" some of the holes in your guidebook.
Day 14 — Sunday 8/28 — Travel to Guadalajara —Historic center of Guadalajara
- We'll check out of La Posada at about 10:00 am to head to Guadalajara, the capital city of Jalisco.
- We will be checking in Hotel de Mendoza, an ancient Catholic Monastery right alongside the Historical Center of town. This hotel is likely to be the fanciest of out whole trip and will contrast with the accommodation. Guadalajara's historic center is a great place to get acquainted with local and national history and get a taste of the incredible colonial architecture that make the city the envy of many other Mexican Cities. Check your Guide book map of the follow "must see" on any visitor's list (everything is within walking distance):
- Teatro Degollado (Degollado Theater) is located next to Hotel de Mendoza East of the cathedral). It's a main cultural art (opera house) venue; Unfortunately it seems to be closed for renovation for the last 8 years! The buildings' architecture is, however, very impressive.
- Going West on the square you'll see the colonial Cathedral built between 1561 and 1618. The current Gothic spires replaces the original one that was destroyed by an earthquake in the nineteenth century (see Cathedral here);
- Liberation square is the open space between the Theater and the Cathedral. A greater than life-size statue of the Father of the Mexican Independence (and a "Father" of the Catholic Church), Miguel Hidalgo holding a broken chain ornate the square. Magicians and mimes comes to entertain the young kids who take pleasure in feeding and chasing pigeons that sometimes swirl around the historical center in large flocks.
- Going south (left) from the cathedral, you'll find the Palacio de Gobierno (State Palace; i.e, the equivalent of our Capitol). Miguel Hidalgo passed the law abolishing slavery from that very place in 1810. You do not want to miss seeing the mural painting of Orozco in the main stair case and the chambers of the parliament.
- Going north (right) from the cathedral, You cannot miss the Rotonda de Jalisciences Illustres, that is the rotonda of illustrious men (and now one woman) of Jalisco; see "Rodonda de Jalisciences illustres" here);
- Museums are all over the place, but going back towards the Hotel and now walking east, past the Teatro Degollado, you'll find yourself facing the Founder's square with large fountains erupting sporadically into central ponds. Behind you will be a relief sculpture of the first settlers of the city.
- Continuing on eastward, you'll have the opportunity to step out of the main square to explore the square-side market area. It is worth a walk just to see what is being sold - you will want to take pictures of some of the things (specially in the "meat" section). If you choose to do so, please do not walk alone; stay with a friend;
- At the far east end of the Historical center is the Insituto Cultural Cabaña. This is the one place we will visit as a group with a guide explaining the history of the building and the meaning of the incredible mural paintings of Clemente Orozco. (see more here and here in spanish).
- From the above list, you can tell that Sunday will go by very quickly!
Day 15 — Monday 8/29 — Travel to Madison
- We won't have to rush early out of Hotel, but we'll take one last bus trip together this morning to travel from Guadalajara Historical Center to Benito Juarez International Airport;
- Our departing flight is American Airlines AA3320, departing Guadalajara at 1:25 pm to Dallas Ft Worth. Our second flight (after passing immigration and customs in Texas) will be American Airlines AA2366, departing Dallas Ft Worth 5:30 pm, arriving at O'Hare at 7:50 pm.
- Thanks to Laura, we'll have a chartered bus to take us back to Madison. Assuming we leave O'Hare around 8:30 pm, we should be back at Memorial Union around 11:15 pm or so.
In Participants' Own Words...
Portfolio Entry: "A Tourist Guide to Mexican Fruit"
- "Nothing tastes better than a good batch of guacamole..."
- "I love that you can cut the tuna straight off the cactus..."
- "Tamarindo tastes like sweaty socks in drink form to me."
- "Don't be fooled by the bad odor of the outside of this fruit, the inside is actually very tasty"
Portfolio Entry: "Instituto Cultural Cabanas"
- "The mural in the center of the stairway is inspired by the struggles of the 20th century societies..."
- "His achievement is greater than in the paraninfo of the University."
Portfolio Entry: "Population, immigration, food, and environment"
- "Villages and nearby cities that depend on this river for their livelihood are working towards improving the river’s quality and its sustainability for future generations."
- "As a smaller cooperative, it has grown from its initial 4 members to 194..."
Portfolio Entry: "Mexican Art"
- "They had impact, were layered with meaning, and often told Mexico’s history."
- "Hidalgo and the Revolution, though they existed 200 years ago, left their footprints all over Mexico."
Portfolio Entry: "What Can a Co-op do for You?"
- "Across the globe, the small farmer generally has trouble gaining infrastructure..."
- "[Alpura and Prolea] both appear to succeed in helping members gain access to the resources they need."
The students' opportunity to learn about Mexico and this web page have been made possible by many individuals that we may not fully acknowledge here. However, we want to particularly thank the following organizations and individuals:
Our Mexican Partners
for contributing enormously to the planning and for their support during the field program — including lots of patience !
Our University of Wisconsin Partners
- a) Jesus Olmos and collaborators at CUALTOS (Centro Universitario Región de los Altos, Universidad de Guadalajara).
- b) Carlos Arriaga and collaborators at UAEM-ICAR (Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico-El Instituto de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Rurales).
- c) Benito Albarrán-Portillo at UAEM-Temascaltepec (Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico).
- d) The producers and business owners who gave us much of their valuable time to allowed us the opportunity to visit their homes, farms, and operations.
for administrative support
- a) CALS International Programs - Laura Van Toll
- b) Department of Dairy Science - Sandy Bertics
was generously provided by:
- a) CALS Scholarship funds
- b) Fest Family Agricultural Enrichment Fund for Enhancing Dairy Science Undergraduate Education
- c) USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant #2007-02470 "Global Agriculture Curriculum Emphasizing Relationships and Interdependencies with the U.S."