The sixty-acre Anahuac Farm, based outside of Turner, Oregon is a program of Capaces Leadership Institute and it is designed to unify Indigenous communities of America, whose labor has been exploited through the food system. At Anahuac, community members literally and figuratively sow seeds of a better tomorrow. As their website states, “We are here to sow seeds of sovereignty with organic cultivation of our milpa (corn, squash and beans) and maintain relationships with our traditional foods and lifeways.”
Anahuac Farms began in 2019, under the umbrella of the Capaces Leadership Institute, to offer educational programing in traditional agricultural methods, culinary and cultural arts, wellness, and indigenous languages to families in Oregon’s agricultural heartland. Capaces has always tried to meet youth and adults where they were, including beginning a program at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, OR to help youth connect with the outside world, the land, and their own origins.
“We have to support the next generation to understand who they are and where they come from,” said Javier Lara, Anahuac Program Manager. He remembered one young man who had been incarcerated for eight years before the Anahuac program began and was heartbroken that the young man only briefly got to experience the farm before he was transferred to an adult facility. Lara noted that what the program gives participants is in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
In June 2022, Anahuac was able to complete the first phase of a capital campaign, which enabled the purchase of sixty acres of organic farmland in Turner, Oregon that provided a home base to continue educational programs. The Roundhouse Foundation was one of the first funders to contribute to this campaign.
In the year since purchasing the Anahuac Farm, the organization has significantly expanded their offerings and programs. Over 250 participants have engaged in Mother Earth ceremonies with Mixtec, Zapotec, Purepecha, Maya and Crow elders. On-site classes for parents and youth in the Salem-Keizer school district as well as Mid-Valley have taught traditional herbalism and traditional horticulture and agriculture. Culinary programming and seed germination classes allow participants to connect with and access culturally important foods. Anahuac Farm’s work has also successfully adapted six corn varieties from Southern Mexico to the Oregon climate.