Green Worker Cooperatives celebrates Sancochazo

by Lori Freshwater. A group prepares a sancocho at Brook Park on Sept. 24.
by Lori Freshwater. A group prepares a sancocho at Brook Park on Sept. 24.

The summer heat broke just in time for The Big Bronx Sancochazo at Brook Park on Sept. 24.

GreenWorker Cooperatives sponsored the Saturday program to inform residents about their organization and their ideals, and to stir up interest among locals. The South Bronx-based group helps promote and create worker-owned local businesses that have environmental sustainability as a core principle.

The all-afternoon festivities included belly dancers, Bollywood dancers, live music, games and a drumming ceremony. But the main attraction was the food. The scent of sancocho, a savory Dominican soup traditionally served at celebrations, wafted up across Brook Avenue from the community garden for much of the day. It was cooked in open metal pots over a fire and stirred with large wooden spoons that resembled boat paddles.

The organizers asked those who came to bring an ingredient for the soup. By the end of the day there was plenty for everyone,  including some extra that was divided up as people left.

Traditional sancocho contains different types of meats. But in a twist on tradition, Claudia Mena and Ysanet Batista of Woke Foods contributed a vegetarian version

“We want to offer people who want to be vegetarians, or vegan, an option that is accessible,” said Mena. “It is delicious and affordable, and made by real people who care about nourishing New York City.” Many who tried the vegetarian version were impressed, she said, adding that just like the meatier version, theirs was prepared right on site. “It has onions, potatoes, peppers, and garlic – a lot of vegetables, like broccoli and squash.”

“A lot of Dominicans say that sancocho is not sancocho without meat – so we wanted to challenge that notion, and I think we accomplished that,” she said. “It was also made with a lot of love.”

Other established businesses under the Green Worker rubric set up tables to sell their goods. One of them, Guadalupe Perez, makes jewelry from recycled materials, to support victims of domestic violence. “I present my project and they gave me a scholarship,” she said.

Perez said she is optimistic that victims of domestic violence have more options now than they have had in the past. She said she hopes to see local women who aspire to run a business, but who lack resources, get some help getting their projects off the ground. She held up some brightly-colored flowers made of plastic laundry containers.

“I invented these flowers,” said Perez. “It’s beautiful colors, and the material is so strong.”