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Lina Weissman and her husband, Mitch, traveled all over Mexico for approximately 20 years before finding Sayulita. Once they did, which was about 15 years ago, they were hooked. They have now been full time residents for eight years and love every minute of it. They chose to move here the first year that Costa Verde International School (CVIS) opened, as it provided an education for their then 8-year-old son. Immediately, Lina got involved in this new and innovative school, which provided a bilingual and bicultural community to their family. After having such a positive experience volunteering at CVIS, Lina was able to branch out and get involved in other parts of the Sayulita community.
You're very involved with the Mercado del Pueblo. Will you tell me more about this?
After living here for about a year, I was talking to some other moms about where we were buying our food, how to find things and what just seemed to be missing. It was obvious that farming was important in Mexico and many local families grew food and had animals. However, it just seemed impossible to find local, natural ingredients to purchase. The beauty of Sayulita is that one can make anything happen with a little passion. The Mercado del Pueblo, our local farmer’s market, was born almost seven years ago now with six vendors.
How does the Mercado del Pueblo make a difference in Sayulita?
The Mercado was the first farmer’s market in the Bahia. The purpose is to provide an easy, inexpensive venue for local growers to sell their products directly to consumers. While there really are a lot of organic products made in Mexico, the demand for these products is so high in the US that about 85% of them are exported. Mexicans and those of us calling this home are left with few organic and local choices. The Mercado builds a local demand for these products so they can stay here and we have access to them. We have been so successful with this venue that similar markets have opened in almost all towns in the Bahia with our support. A true slow food movement is beginning!
What role do you play in the Mercado del Pueblo?
I am the founder of the Mercado, but I have always had an amazing group of friends, volunteers, and vendors who work so hard to make this happen. While every Friday is completely exhausting, I get reminded of all the quality products we now have at our fingertips, all the education we have about what grows here, and what to do with it, and I get to meet people every week that are as passionate about this as I am.
What have you gained from your involvement with the Mercado del Pueblo?
I am constantly learning. I get to learn about new fruits and vegetables, natural healing treatments, cultural references and more. I have met people I would never had come across if I had just stayed in my house and cooked what I could find at Mega. Individuals have incredible stories if you have time to listen.
What motivates you to continue to try to make a positive impact in Sayulita?
Sayulita is an incredible international community. I feel lucky to be part of what is happening here. Everywhere I turn, there are people who do inspiring things. The impossible is possible here with patience, persistence and a sense of humor.
What positive changes have you seen brought about by your efforts? What are you most proud of?
I'd like to think that we all know a little more about what grows here and in what season, that we have the option to eat foods and use products that have cultural relevance, are healthier options, and are a tad more interesting. In the time the Mercado has been open, we actually have restaurants and chefs sourcing from local farmers and using organic products in their recipes. Several of our vendors have gone on to open up their own businesses based on their success in our market, helping the local economy. However, what I think I am most proud of is that we have always operated the Mercado as a nonprofit. All of our proceeds, from the first day we opened, go directly back into the community to support local causes. This year, we are making that official and becoming an Association Civil (AC), a registered nonprofit in Mexico.
What additional changes do you want to see brought about by the Mercado del Pueblo?
For me, one of the best things about the Mercado is the sense of community one gets when you arrive. Nationals and foreigners have both commented to me about this; it is the feeling of Sayulita. Last year, the Mercado decided to create and fund a group called Eco Sayulita. Through this group, we are working on Sayulita being a model green community for Mexico. Some of these projects have included water and beach clean ups, the adoption of biodegradable products in town and planning for a town-wide compost program. We have a lot of work to do and it is all very exciting.
You volunteer your time to several other different causes and organizations. Will you tell me more about this?
Well, I am still on the Board of CVIS; this has been such an innovative improvement in town. When I can, I also put time into SayulitAnimals, I spend a lot of time on EcoSayulita projects and Festival Sayulita-now in our third season! This season, I hope that others will join me in getting involved in Pueblo Magico planning as well.
How can others help make a difference?
Everyone has a passion. Stand up and do it. All contributions count.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Sayulita is growing fast. While it is, at its heart, the same town we fell in love with 15 years ago, it is also having growing pains. All interesting towns do. Over the next few years, it is up to each and every one of us to consciously participate in those changes as much as we can. I am unclear that any one of us knows what is best for town, but together we need to figure it out and take action.