The project

Works for the establishment of a botanical garden and natural conservation area in San Miguel de Allende began in 1989, at the initiative of the organization Cante AC. The monumental ravine of El Charco del Ingenio was presented as the ideal site for the imagined project: an area of great ecological, scenic and historical value, in danger of being overtaken by the overwhelming urban expansion of the city.

The project envisioned a large botanical garden immersed in a natural conservation area. A space dedicated to the study, assessment and enjoyment of nature for the local population, it was also proposed as a sustainable option, based on its undoubted tourist potential.

Thanks to timely financial support, it was possible to acquire the land, which was seriously affected by human activity: logging, soil extraction, hunting, grazing, fires, clearing, accumulation of garbage... Various restoration actions were undertaken in order to reverse the environmental deterioration of the site, while trails, squares, viewpoints and plant exhibition areas were enabled. Simultaneously, collections of native species began in arid and semi-arid areas of the country, thanks to the support of federal authorities and the Institute of Biology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. With these first specimens, El Charco del Ingenio began to integrate its botanical collection.

In this way, the nascent Botanical Garden was able to open its doors to the public, through an emotional founding ceremony conducted by indigenous communities, which took place during the total solar eclipse that occurred on July 11, 1991. In it it was consecrated the site as a natural and community area of San Miguel de Allende. Since then and every year the festival of the Santa Cruz del Charco del Ingenio is celebrated on the site, with a large turnout from rural and urban areas of the municipality.

Over the years, the Botanical Garden has received recognition of thousands of visitors from very different origins who come to El Charco every day, as well as various publications, institutions and conservation groups inside and outside the country. For this constructive work, the Botanical Garden obtained in 1995 the National Award for Ecological Merit of the Government of Mexico.

The dynamics and dimension acquired by the conservation project soon made it necessary to create a new independent organization of a territorial nature. Thus, in 1998, the The Charco del Ingenio AC, the organization that owns and manages the Botanical Garden and custodian of the plant collections. In addition to this primary mission, the Garden performs a social function, as a space for community confluence and environmental education. This is carried out through visits and programs aimed at students of different levels, especially from the creation of a new Environmental Interpretation Room, designed to understand El Charco del Ingenio and the hydrographic basin where it is located.

Since 2002 El Charco del Ingenio has been a member of the Mexican Association of Botanical Gardens, an organization that coordinates the work of these important centers of conservation, knowledge and dissemination of biodiversity in our country. As of 2022 and by unanimous decision of the member gardens, El Charco holds the presidency of said association. El Charco also belongs to Botanic Garden Conservation International, an organization that brings together numerous botanical gardens around the world.

A transcendental achievement of the conservation project took place in 2005, when the City Council declared a large territorial complex of 392 hectares around the Botanical Garden as Ecological Preservation Zone, which prioritizes environmental conservation over urban expansion, with the purpose of conserving this magnificent place as a natural and historical heritage of San Miguel de Allende.

Leonard Brooks “El Charco del Ingenio”, 1994, ink and watercolor.

In 2020, the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT), certified El Charco del Ingenio as an Ethnobotanical Garden for the State of Guanajuato, within a program for the establishment of these spaces in each of the entities of the Republic. This has involved the creation of new ethnobotanical collections on the site, as well as various activities with rural and indigenous communities, holders of ancestral knowledge related to regional plants, as a fundamental part of Mexico's bio-cultural heritage.

El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden is being built day by day as an open and unique space, with various aspects of interest for all types of public: a natural monument, a wildlife sanctuary, a set of botanical collections, a scientific research unit, an environmental education center, a historical site, a recreational and community space... As in its origin, it remains an autonomous civil initiative, made possible largely thanks to the contributions of its visitors and friends, silent promoters of its flowering.