and pitchforks are
the only tools that
the Ba-Lescas use
to produce their
crops. Fotos/Photos: Óscar Avellaneda
From Mexican Natives to Alaska Growing with traditional agriculture
By SOL DE MEDIANOCHE Y B. GARCÍA
The Ba-Lescas do not use herbicides or insecticides. Fotos/Photos: Óscar Avellaneda
The Ba-Lescas family provides Alaskan tables with fresh vegetables grown with traditional methods. The roots of these systems are so deep that they reach the heart of the indigenous cultures of southern Mexico. The Ba-Lescas harness the traditional knowledge of the sowers from these groups which passed down through generations, and between families. They harvest the gardens of generous people who open their houses and hearts in Anchorage and Palmer. This variety of locations allows them to take advantage of different microclimates and types of soil to produce strawberries, beans, beets, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables.
The Ba-Lescas take advantage of the multiple and quick stages growth cycles that the Alaskan summer make possible. They offer vegetables that blossom at the beginning of summer such as mustard greens and green onions; midsummer crops such as spinach and radishes; and late summer produce such as potatoes and fava beans.
The Ba-Lescas also deliver produce of Mexican heritage, such as epazote (wormseed) and squash flower. The knowledge gained through lifetime of experience working in the field and through years of study enable the Ba-Lescas to produce food in a natural, healthy, and efficient way. Of their traditional knowledge, Mr. Ba-Lescas said, “I can design a wooden plow, tame bulls or horses to form a team for traditional farming, which is effective. We were self-sufficient in our traditional fields. In the culture in which I was born we could work on rough terrain, and mountainous slopes. We also constructed irrigation sources where water was inaccessible. Using ditches, we brought water from a great distance. Normally we would give God an offering to thank him for the water that helped our produce. In my language we don’t have a word for water, and we call it ‘liquid of God.’”
The Ba-Lescas family shares its wide knowledge of traditional agriculture and cooking with their customers so that everyone can enjoy the flavors of fresh vegetables and reap their health benefits. One can visit with the family at the Spenard Farmers Market, Muldoon Farmers Market, and Alaska Pacific University Farmers Market.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE CO. Sol de Medianoche is a bimonthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska