An interview with Centro del Pueblo’s garden teacher, Adán Cervantes
by Denise Villalva, Centro del Pueblo
The non-profit Centro Del Pueblo (CDP) is an organization that is committed to supporting the Indigenous immigrant community. A program of CDP, Comida del Pueblo is designed to spread food sovereignty to the immigrant population of Humboldt. Centro Del Pueblo has community gardens located in Arcata, Fortuna, and Loleta. These gardens are a place for the immigrant, Indigenous population to redefine their relationship with food, and they represent a safe space for all immigrants.
Adán Cervantes is from Puebla, Mexico, and he is our teacher and guide in CDP’s Sanctuary Gardens for Immigrants. He shares his experience in these gardens with us:
“When I come to the Arcata Sanctuary Garden, it excites me because it reminds me of my country and all the people who come here to improve the space. At the beginning, this space was sad and dry, and several things needed to be changed. Now the neighbors pass by and they see for themselves how the place has changed. I remember when I first arrived, I recognized that it needed the love of human hands, patience, and sacrifice. We had to remove the weeds and constantly water- the plants needed sun, water, and affection. All of the volunteers who have been there since the beginning have brought friends and family because they enjoy being in this space so much.
“We have many surprises for this year. The garden events have become community spaces for us to dream together about the future of the gardens. We are able to share the harvest of our efforts and to enjoy what our own hands sow. We will soon have greenhouses in Fortuna and in Loleta dedicated to producing seedlings to distribute to all of our sanctuary community gardens.
“Through my blood, sweat, and tears I’ve brought flint corn, purple corn, and black corn to the gardens, which all have different flavors. Flint corn or maíz pinto has a rich flavor and history, and it is very healthy, even more so when we plant it with organic methods. We avoid killing ourselves with pesticides and get closer to our goal of returning to natural fruits and vegetables. Corn reminds us of the diverse ways that we can cook our harvest: we can make atoles, roasted corn, tortillas, etc. There are so many ways to enjoy corn. We have planted fava beans, peas, onions, cilantro, and many more vegetables. We want to plant everything that our imagination and the land will allow. We have many planter beds, some of which will be used for medicinal teas, as well as aromatic herbs.
“It is exciting to see a garden that is changing so much. We do it for love of ourselves, love of people and our healthy diet. All families with children are very welcome, we want to learn from you and we also have many things to teach you. Leave the shame and fear of being immigrants. We invite you to feel at home and to sow, harvest and share what we are doing for our community.”
Volunteers are needed to care for CDP’s community gardens. If you’d like to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sustain CDP’s local organizing and empowerment of Immigrant and Indigenous Peoples from the South by donating at cdpueblo.com/donate.