Saturday Farmers’ Market Vendor Feature: Tal A’xin – Maya in Exile Garden
This week’s featured vendor is the Tal A’xin: Maya in Exile Garden, who sell Maya ancestral crops (the Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash) among others as well as arrangements of beautiful flowers at the UBC Farm Saturday Farmers’ Market. In 1986, five Maya families came to Canada as refugees from Guatemala. Now, in order to share and keep Maya culture and farming traditions alive for future generations, which revolves heavily around the planting of corn, they work the land at the UBC Farm. We were able to interview Maximo Morales, one of the members of the Maya Garden and hear about the story behind the garden.
How did the Mayan Garden come to be and where did the crops originally come from?
We came from Ixtahuacan to Canada and started the Mayan Garden a long time ago, even before the garden was at UBC. Afterwards, we made a friend at UBC who said we had a chance to work with the UBC Farm and to apply for a project plot. So in 2000, the garden was established at the UBC Farm and we started bringing seeds over from Guatemala to plant here. Some of the seeds grew and some didn’t.
What kind of produce do you grow and sell from Guatemala?
We grow a variety: amaranth (bledo), apazote, hierba mora, beans, corn, squash and more.
What type of recipes or dishes do you make using these ingredients?
We eat mostly the amaranth and hierba mora. We like to use it in ensalada tradicional (traditional salad) and an assortment of cooked dishes.
If you’re interested in learning more about Maya cooking, the members of the Maya in Exile Garden also host public workshops on cooking traditional Maya meals. Find out more information here.
What do you want to share with visitors?
We want people to know about how we cultivate and plant the vegetables here, and how to eat and prepare something different. It takes a lot of time to cultivate our plants because we try to keep the same growing practices like what we did in Guatemala.
Is there anywhere where people can go to find more information about the Maya Garden?
There is a page on the UBC Farm about the Mayan Garden (here). You are also welcome to come and visit us!
The Maya in Exile Garden will be at the UBC Farm Saturday Farmers’ Market until their last day on October 26! To get volunteer at the Mayan Garden or to learn more, check out the UBC Farm page and their Facebook page.