Sunday, March 3, 2013


One of the highlights of our trip to Costa Rica was a botanical tour of CATIE. There is a beautiful building named after one of the USA's vice presidents. In 1942, Vice President Henry Wallace and the Costa Rica president laid the corner stone for this institute. 
 Years later, the Wallace Genetic Foundation awarded a grant to help continue the work.

"The Wallace Genetic Foundation has awarded a grant of $50,000 to help renew and maintain the internationally important collections of tropical plants preserved in the Botanical Garden at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The grant was made to the Tropics Foundation, CATIE's U.S.-based foundation, located in Atlanta.
The CATIE Botanical Garden protects the germplasm of almost 400 species of food crops and fruit trees of paramount importance in tropical agriculture and serves as a resource not only for Latin America but also around the world.
Both the field collections and the cold-room seed collections are under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, allowing free exchange of genetic materials. Seed and vegetative materials go to farmers, universities, national and international research institutions and nonprofits who use them to develop improved or disease-resistant varieties or to re-establish plant diversity that has been lost. Materials have been requested from countries as far away as Thailand, Germany, Ethiopia and France

In announcing the award, David Douglas, vice president of Wallace's board of directors, said, "Wallace Genetic Foundation is delighted to be supporting the vital genetic preservation work of CATIE and its Botanical Garden. The founder of Wallace Genetic itself, Henry A. Wallace, played a role in helping to launch CATIE in 1942, and it seems only appropriate that his descendants are in a small way continuing to support the visionary leadership of CATIE and its extraordinary germplasm collection."  Quote Via

If I was commissioned to do a painting of the Garden of Eden, I might travel to Costa Rica for models.
Our tour of CATIE was led by Jose who encouraged us to see and touch most of the plants, and taste many of them.
Jose, explaining the parts of an orchid
Pod holding cocoa beans
Cocoa pod cut open

Coco bean covered in a sweet slimy coating
Slimy coating sucked off and bean broken open to show purple insides.  Don't bite down!  It is bitter, but this is the part they use to make chocolate.

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