By Nancy Lilienthal, Minnesota Energy Resources
Senior External Relations Manager Jeff Larson recently co-led a team with friend Nancy Alvarado to raise funds and travel to Costa Rica to build a brick-and-concrete bread oven in the country’s northern rain forest.
Nancy served in the Peace Corps in San Marcos de Cutris and had maintained contact with the village. One of the families expressed interest in baking bread as a source of income, so the project took off. In Minnesota, funds were raised through a garage sale, a Spanish Garden Party and a social media fundraising campaign to successfully achieve the goal. Nancy took a leave of absence from her job at the Bakken Museum (a Minneapolis museum which explores the mysteries of electricity) to go to Costa Rica and perform the preliminary work of building the oven base and securing the supplies needed for oven construction.
Jeff arrived at the end of July to lead the construction team of four volunteers from Minnesota. After two weeks (with some beach time thrown in to give the concrete and mortar time to “cure”), the oven was completed and the first batch of bread was made before Jeff returned to Minnesota. Nancy stayed for two more weeks to teach the people how to use the oven and work on marketing strategies.