Every two weeks a tertulia is held in the central square in León. This citywide event, rather like a local craft and farmers’ market, is put on by the Mayor’s Office to promote small local businesses showcase traditional music, dance, and food. On 15 August, members of the cooperatives from the communities of El Ojochal, El Caracol, and Agua Fría joined the Nuevas Esperanzas team to participate in the Tertulia as part of an initiative to bring their products to market. It was the first time the cooperatives had participated in such an event, and it certainly will not be the last.
The team awoke early on the day to help transport people from their communities on the Telica volcano to León, approximately an hour and a half away by car. With them, the farmers brought honey, avocadoes, oranges, beans, and baked goods to sell, including delicious sugarcoated doughnuts prepared by the women of Telica. Armed with brochures, uniforms, and an eye-catching sign, the tourism cooperative, COTUR, traveled to León on a separate mission: to promote volcano tours for their budding business.
By 8am, the cooperatives were already setting up their table in the square, eagerly awaiting the first few visitors to arrive to purchase their products. Beekeeping specialists from Nuevas Esperanzas placed a large, glass display case containing a hive of about 3,000 bees at the centre of the table. The queen marked with a blue spot was easy to identify. This turned out to be an ingenious attraction. Even before the cooperatives had finished setting up, dozens of passers-by were already gathering around the table to marvel at the thousands of bees buzzing around the hive. The women from El Caracol were thrilled to be selling the honey they had produced and showing off the bees from their hives.
Unsurprisingly, honey was the major selling point at the Tertulia, making up 72% of the income generated that day. Between them the two cooperatives made almost US$ 200 through the sale of their products. COTUR sold one tour, but also managed to hand out a lot of brochures. Members of COTUR were really pleased with their success and are already planning for next time. While the cooperatives’ friendly demeanor and enthusiasm went a long way for the first-time Tertulia goers, Nuevas Esperanzas plans to facilitate further training in marketing to ensure the next Tertulia will be an even greater success.