Corn Bagging

By VidaMaize 😉

Driving in rural southeastern Wisconsin recently I came across a sight I’ve never seen before: brown paper bags topped the stalks in a field of corn. What?! Was this the first step in early Halloween decorating? Instead of a corn maze were they going to draw jack-o-lantern faces on the bags? Playing cornhole bags is a popular yard game here; were these bags some sort of play on words? The above conjectures are a joke; I knew the bags had something to do with serious farming. So, I had to stop and ask the farmer what the paper bags were all about.

That’s how I met Jasper. He told me he was hand-pollinating the corn. I came to learn that he was basically chastity-belting corn stalks with paper bags: keeping the male and female parts of the corn under wraps to prevent errant cross-pollination. 

Jasper works for a seed breeder, and they cooperate internationally with those looking to enhance the nutritional value and hardy heritage of the grains we eat—corn, oats, sorghum, and amaranth, while increasing soil health. He introduced me to his colleague, Alexander, and their boss, Dr. Walter Goldstein, founder of the Mandaamin Institute, a non-profit agricultural research firm based in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Mandaamin is the Algonquin word for corn or the spirit of corn—a connection to so many indigenous gods of corn and fertility in this western hemisphere and a reminder of its importance in our world. Walter worked for over twenty-five years as Research Director at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy prior to starting his institute. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Nutrition would seem to be the reason we eat. We all want to be healthy, and we love good tasting food. Yet, many of us grumble that the fruits and vegetables we eat today don’t taste as good as we remember, and our bodies suffer because food doesn’t contain the nutritional quality it used to. Our soils are degraded, and mass production of food today requires expensive chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and machinery. We have a running joke in our family that we will all show up on our cousins’ low-tech farm in Indiana after the zombie apocalypse. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, the supply chain breaks down quite easily, and secure, healthy food sources are paramount to our survival. The Mandaamin Institute’s program is the result of  49 growing seasons in Wisconsin, Chile, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii.  The objective: to naturally breed corn that is more nutritious, efficient and that is farmed in ways that leave our planet healthier. 

This is not only good news for our soil, water, and those of us who eat corn, but also for the animals who consume corn. He and his team discovered nutritional value traits hidden in old land race corn back in 2004, and nitrogen-fixing corn in 2009. The photos on their website of the difference in the bright orange yolks of the eggs laid by chickens who eat Mandaamin corn vs. GMO corn, and in the color of the skin of the chickens producing such carotene-rich eggs, is remarkable. They’ve produced nitrogen-efficient or “fixing” corn as shown in the photo below and have naturally nitrogen-rich corn varieties that have the inherent smarts to produce bacteria that are partially consumed by the plant, feeding it with minerals and proteins. Those bacteria encourage the plant’s roots to grow numerous and large root hairs. The plant ejects that bacterium into the soil, enriching it, and then takes the bacteria in once again with new roots. Those bacteria make their way into the new seed and are stored there  for the next generation. Thus, this corn is itself both a farmer and a seed breeder! Mandaamin also has varieties of corn that resist pollination from GMO pollen, a huge hurdle in organic and biodynamic farming.

“Big agrichemical farming uses lots of chemical nitrogen fertilizer but hardly uses crop rotations. Their practices deplete the fertility and nitrogen content of soils. Those nitrogen fertilizers contribute greatly to pollution of our water and the ocean and become potent greenhouse gasses. We have created a corn that may help to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers. Such N efficient corn may be a game-changer globally. Large agribusiness is striving to create N efficient corn through genetic engineering and patenting. We are striving to be first with a natural option. We believe that patenting natural nitrogen efficient/fixing corn is unethical. Therefore, we are sharing our research results with the public.” 

—Mandaamin website

Amazingly to me, Walter told me that in breeding ancient corn for modern soils, he has discovered that his nutritionally rich, hardy, soil-enhancing corn grows BETTER without fertilizers—including without manure! While that runs counter to gardening 101 principles that even I know, it is exciting stuff as these heritage plants naturally morph and reposition their own genomes in a relationship with the grower and the environment. They would sure seem to be just the seed I want on my cousins’ farm post-apocalypse!

Interestingly and typically, in my initial drive-by I had only noticed brown paper bags on the corn stalks—tassel bags. Visiting on foot the following day, we saw there were also white bags covering the ears (shoot bags), and learned that Jasper and Alexander use green and red tassel bags as well. The tassel bag colors are code for the process being used. Brown bags for their purposes indicate self-fertilizing (pollen from that same stalk is shaken onto the corn silk). Green bags are for sib mating sister plants in the row. Red bags designate crossing or cross-pollinating. The white shoot bags are used to cover the ear/silk so that it is not pollinated until that process purposefully occurs.

The process that we observed in the field, to my limited knowledge and observation skills, was this:

  1. As shoots develop and before tassels mature, its shoots are covered with a white waxed bag to prevent the silks from being pollinated. The bag must have plenty of room in it for the husks/silks/ear to grow and not pop the bag off. Interesting note: each pollinated silk produces a kernel of corn!
  2. Once a tassel matures sufficiently and develops anthers (pollen), it is covered with a bag that is tightly closed to contain the pollen. Jasper and Alexander used a staple gun to close the bags. There is usually a 2-to-3-day window when pollinating can occur, and it must be done in dryness.
  3. At the same time as the tassels are bagged, the white shoot bags are removed, and the husks and silks are trimmed. The shoot bag is then quickly replaced, to limit exposure to airborne pollen.
  4. The following day, the tassels are shaken into the tassel bag to collect the pollen, and the bag carefully removed. The shoot bag is removed to reveal an overnight growth of silks ready and waiting for pollination. For the self-pollination we witnessed, the pollen is sprinkled on the shoot (ear/silk) of that same stalk. The numbered tassel bag is then stapled securely over the pollinated shoot.
  5. Once the silks have dried and kernels have started to develop, the shoot bags will be removed.

They want to breed “synchronous plants,” those that develop pollen and silks at the same time. If a plant doesn’t, it will be ignored. Their plants are all organic, though they are not officially certified. The ears will be hand harvested.

I can tell you from personal experience that once that pollen gets shaken off the tassels, the bees come out in droves! They are very, very excited to smell all that fresh pollen, so it’s a good thing the shoots get covered again quickly and tightly.

Each of the paper bags has a date on it, so that when the ear is harvested, they will know when it was pollinated. Each range in the field is numbered, as is each row, and there are tags indicating those locations. Thus, it’s very easy to track progress.

I watched Jasper discard a shoot whose bag had fallen off and its silks exposed to the air; that’s no good for their testing purposes. The corn plant puts most of its energy into the top shoot or ear, so that is the one that they pay most attention to when covering. However, Mandaamin is working on corn that is more productive, minimum two ears per stalk, so they cover the shoots they see growing. I found it sad to learn that most corn produced today only has one ear per stalk! Very different from my youth. I was told that is why it’s now planted so much closer together than it was when I was a child.

I also watched him perform “surgery.” Jasper found a shoot whose silks were not exposed, and he had to cut back the husk a bit for them to gain freedom. He told me this is not ideal, but necessary. He then covered the shoot for pollination the following day.

Another memorable thing I witnessed was one ear of corn on the tassel of the plant! What? Even I know that’s not “right!” Turns out this was a hermaphrodite, produced by a sucker plant that lives off a main plant. I thought that was cool. Jasper says they leave those be, not covering them, as they are not useful for their research purposes.Another memorable thing I witnessed was one ear of corn on the tassel of the plant! What? Even I know that’s not “right!” Turns out this was a hermaphrodite, produced by a sucker plant that lives off a main plant. I thought that was cool. Jasper says they leave those be, not covering them, as they are not useful for their research purposes.

Finally, I learned that my beloved huitlacoche, that corn fungus that Mexicans cook up so deliciously and that I love in a cream sauce over chicken, grows here, too. Here it is called “smut” and is a sign of a corn plant out of balance—one which cannot control the fungus Ustilago, which naturally infects corn.

Mandaamin’s process of emergent evolution selects the best plants and grows them under hardship conditions: sandy soil, in the gravel left behind in a quarry, under severe drought. Locally here in southeast Wisconsin they experiment with about 20 acres each season; only three to four are hand-pollinated, the remainder are seed trials. They partner with traditional and organic farmers and a medium sized seed company called Foundation Organic Seed. They collaborate with Professor James White and his lab at Rutgers and with North Carolina State University. They do not use fertilizers but occasionally spread manure to maintain soil fertility. They have published their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals and base their approach on feedback from farmers obtained at the turn of the millennium in workshops with the Practical Farmers of Iowa, the Minnesota Organic Growers, and the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference.

Most of Mandaamin’s seed of old-time corn comes from the USDA, which he tells us has a fantastic collection of corn. The plant introduction station in Ames, Iowa is where Walter usually goes to get corn from anywhere in the world. Oats, wheat, and other small grains he obtains from the repository in Idaho. “These centers and their plant introduction system are one of the best things about this country. They have rich sets of seed varieties from all over the world, and very supportive and helpful people who help us identify races and their traits to aid our research. They also gift seed to people all over the world.”

Walter showed me corn that’s part Mexican chapalote—the oldest corn in North America, which they’ve bred for nitrogen efficiency. Mandaamin has winter nurseries in Puerto Rico and Chile, so breeding continues year-round. This is not seasonal labor. Jasper, for example, works year-round, working on research and development and preparing seed for planting.

Besides an ongoing quest for funding to continue operations, and talent committed to pursuing biodynamic and organic corn breeding, Mandaamin faces the dilemma of how to get their seed used by farmers while protecting their discoveries from the opportunism of other seed breeders who could pirate their hard work. They want to get their work out there, but don’t want to be stupid. They refuse to patent their work, though they do license it; they rely on an honor system based on the ability to genetically track their seed.

Humans have been cultivating new plant varieties to suit their purposes since farming began—plants suitable to local climates, flowers with new colors, drought- or pest-resistant crops, higher-yield varietals. It makes sense that we would care for plants in a way that makes them more of what we want and need. There are at least two ways of doing this.

  1. Hybrids are developed in the field using natural, low-tech methods. Hybridization from cross-pollination happens naturally in the wild. Classic open-pollination plant-breeding takes six to ten generations. Modern controlled crossing takes only one generation (F1). A belief frequently underlying this process is of a two-way relationship between the grower and the plant; one takes care of the other.
  2. Genetically modified (GM) varieties are created in a lab in combination with field work using complex technology such as gene splicing, which can mix genetic material from differing kingdoms such as bacteria and plants. GM seeds are also frequently implanted with pesticides or fertilizers. A belief frequently underlying this process is of a one-way relationship: plants provide sustenance.

Corn is a wild grass that has been selectively bred by humans since its domestication in Mexico over 10,000 years ago! That wild grass—teosinte—produced only 5-10 kernels per stalk, while modern corn can have over 500 kernels! Corn today is a staple food for billions of people worldwide and a source of livelihood for millions of farmers in hundreds of countries. It has hundreds of varieties with numerous colors and traits. Corn feeds humans as well as livestock, can be turned into ethanol, used for brewing beer, turned into high-fructose syrup, cooking oil, and even bio-plant-based plastics

The paper bags in the corn field are a way of testing and hybridizing corn in a controlled manner. Seed breeders like Jasper combine the scientific method with natural, simple yet very labor-intensive techniques to enhance the nutritional value of our food and improve soil health. Their techniques provide a natural alternative to GMO. 

“Contemporary industrial agriculture concentrates power, land and wealth in the hands of a few large corporations or corporate family farms. Contemporary farming is wiping out diversity (just the opposite of biodynamic farming) in the name of short-term profit. It will, we believe, ultimately undermine humanity’s ability to sustain a large population. Despite the argument that we need contemporary technology to feed the world, our founders instinctively knew large amounts of inorganic fertilizer would pollute the groundwater and the effects of pesticides on the environment would also affect insect, animal, and human health. 

Organic and biodynamic agriculture blend the older ways of farming while using modern research to showcase the best in agriculture and the best in human nature.”

—Michael Fields Agricultural Institute website

The problem with both F1 hybrids and GM plant varieties is that they create a dependency on seed companies because growers must purchase new seed every year. Newly developed GM formulas and hybrids are licensed for one-time use: farmers buy seed to plant yet cannot harvest productive seed from the crops they grow to produce more food. Our agricultural industrial complex has broken nature to recoup its research and development costs and make money, making it impossible to reproduce such seed naturally. In the case of Mandaamin, the farmers have demanded hybrids rather than open-pollinated varieties because they want the traits that hybrids provide.

Mandaamin is a labor of love, a non-profit that is looking out for our common good. They need donations and investment to continue their research. Please donate via their website or this link if you are able. If you know like-minded breeders or farmers, or are interested in a possible partnership, please contact Walter (+1-262-248-1533 or via email to wgoldstein@mandaamin.org) for more information on partnerships and support.

How can people learn about this type of farming? Walter told us that the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, some provinces in Canada) has a farmer-breeder club. Most university programs sadly do not teach this type of farming; working and apprenticing are the only way to really learn. He would like to organize a national association and start an educational and training program through that association. 

This method of agriculture is truly a blend of art and science; it represents a dedication to the understanding of being one with the planet. I am grateful to these brown paper bags in the field and to the men who tend them; it gives me hope for our planet’s and our future health. 

I am better off by having met these men, and I thank them for it. Through them I learned that I grew up just miles away from the oldest biodynamic farm in the USA—the Zinniker farm! I know we have at least two respected research institutes here locally, aimed at improving our health and that of our planet via better farming. I learned about an awesome sustainable farming school run by an incredible Norwegian immigrant to this area: FarmWise Education‘s founder and Walter’s wife, Bente Goldstein. And I sincerely hope that some positive connection and collaboration will come from this article.

Farm to Table 2014—O•M•G!!!!!

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THE best meal we’ve had in six years in Mazatlán. Really. Good food involves the quality of the raw ingredients, the talent and creativity with which it’s prepared, the setting and ambience in which you eat it, and the magnificence of the people with whom you enjoy the meal. Today was cien por ciento, 100%!

Farm to Table 2014—the very first event of its kind in Mazatlán and, we believe, in Mexico. As with the first time for anything, we didn’t expect much. We hoped, but we didn’t expect. Well intentioned but poorly executed is the norm for first-time events. But no! This team pulled it off incredibly! An absolutely beautiful setting, a gorgeously perfect day, a multicultural, integrated group of very interesting, and fun-loving, intelligent people, amidst healthy, organic and delicious food, were all ours for leisurely enjoyment this afternoon. Every course, every single drink (from tequila to two wines to coffee), and the outdoor setting were beautiful! Kudos, kudos and more kudos to the organizers, chefs and servers!!!

About 100 people, including the mayor and his beautiful first lady, were seated in a field on Chuy Lizárraga’s farm at kilometer 21, just north of town. It was an absolutely perfect day—sunny, clear, yet cool enough to be enjoyable. No bugs, nothing uncomfortable, just pure unadulterated enjoyment!

Chefs from seven restaurants dedicated seven days of menus this past week to the “Farm to Table” event: Diego Becerra from El Presidio; Marianne Biascotti from Rico’s; Sarah Emerson & Gabriel Ocampo from First International Seafood House (F.I.S.H.); Enrique Espinoza of Rosso Nero; Enrique Freyre from Raggio; Hector Peniche of Molika & Krema; and Alastair Porteous of Water’s Edge. The culmination took place today at dinner in a farm field.

We were seated at long tables in the middle of a corn field, Italian style, decked out with fresh sunflowers, white linens, and all the wine and excellently prepared organic food the discriminating palate might desire. To top it all off, it was all in benefit of Avicultores Pérez Vidaña, an award-winning non-profit organization in Sinaloa that assists low-income families with severely handicapped children by teaching them to raise chickens and eggs for food. Proceeds from the event also support the Mercado Orgánico de Mazatlán’s educational programs.

Below is video of Sarah Emerson opening the meal.

Dinner (or lunch, if you prefer) consisted of eight different dishes, all prepared with organic ingredients and served family style: green salad, tabouleh, grilled veggies, chicken, quail, risotto, a dessert selection, and coffee with organic, artesanal ice cream. It was soooo wonderful to have so many vegetables, to eat one’s fill, and still feel healthy rather than weighted down! The sun was shining yet it wasn’t hot, the conversation flowed in several languages fluidly, and an excellent time was had by all.

Janet Blaser, the gorgeous, humble, hardworking, altruistic expat here in Mazatlán, has done sooooo much for our community. First she started M! Magazine, a bilingual publication we all love, which supplements other offerings and fills a much-needed gap here in town. Then she teamed with Verónica Rico, another absolutely beautiful, talented and intelligent woman, to establish the Mercado Orgánico, the MZT Farmers’ Market. None of us can imagine how we survived without the market all those years. And now, the two of them, plus a whole team of talented others, have given us the first Farm to Table Event! Below is video of her talk, just prior to dessert.

Jorge Luis Sanchez attended, a professor at UAS who also owns and operates his own organic farm. I learned soooo much by talking to him! Definitely want to take one of his classes! I suggested to Vero that they invite Jorge Luis to speak at one of the Saturday markets, so maybe that will happen. He knows so much about our environment, ecosystem, the human body, the origins of insecticides and herbicides and their impact on the world around us and our health, as well as having extensive knowledge about GMOs. With people like him in Sinaloa, our future is indeed bright!

May this be the first of many, many such excellent events. CONGRATULATIONS and thank you to all the organizers, chefs, wait staff and attendees!

Meseta de Cacaxtla Tour with Conanp – Los Llanitos

Our third stop on Meseta de Cacaxtla today was Los Llanitos. (Links to blog post 1/Chicayota or blog post 2/Guillermo Prieto) By the time we got there we had already decided we had had a terrific day. And it only got better! What a gorgeous place this was, by far the most economically successful, and the people were so much fun!

What stood out for me right away were the stories of jaguar in the area. I do hope that some day I might get to see one!

Los Llanitos was so fancy, after our previous two stops, that it even had a little kiosk in the plaza in the center of town! Very charming.

Our hosts were all ready to serve us lunch. I fell in love with the setting. It reminded me of picnicking in a vineyard in Italy, with the bright colors and flowers.

Carlos’ wife had taken some of the organic tomatoes, sliced them, and added goat cheese, fresh-picked basil, olive oil and a bit of low-sodium soy sauce. OMG! We were in HEAVEN!!!!! I think I ate about ten tomatoes they were so good!

While we were munching, Maximiliano, the grandfather, started regaling us with stories of the pre-Hispanic artifacts he has found while tending his fields in Los Llanitos. The area, according to him, is home to the game of ulama; this town is where it originated, they say. Max brought out a couple of pottery figurines that he passed around to show us.

The figures had clear faces: eyes, nose and mouth, arms and legs. They seemed to be wearing shirts or tunics. They reminded me of the Chinese burial dolls, which I’ve also seen in Japan, as well as among some of the Pueblo Indians of the US Southwest.

Most fascinating to me, however, were what I first thought to be “angel wings” on the back of the dolls. Upon closer scrutiny, they seem to be the hands of other dolls. It would appear these dolls were part of a set or group of dolls, with one doll hugging the next.

As if after our big breakfast and all the tomatoes we might still be hungry, our hosts in Los Llanitos brought out some of the best tamales I’ve ever had. Organic beef, tomato, chile, and squash, in a thin wrap of corn masa.

Followed by freshly harvested corn on the cob, which our pretty new friend proceeded to drench in fresh cream, cover with grated cheese, and serve up. Oh my!

But, no! That still wasn’t enough. There were homemade jamoncillos.

And my personal favorite, freshly baked empanadas de calabaza, pumpkin turnovers, made by one of the daughters in the family.

My new friend Consuelo lives in Mazatlán with her daughters. They are all three estilistas, beauticians who do manicures, makeup and hair styling. We hope to see them here again soon. She also has a son who was there for the winter holiday, Marcos. He is graduating soon as a biologist, from university in Ensenada, and will return to Los Llanitos to contribute to the local community.

The kids were really cute, but what really stood out for Greg and I were that the boys were sharpening knives for use in cockfighting or palenque. It seems they often hold cockfights in the backyard. I’ve seen men who love this, and I know families attend. I just didn’t realize that kids from such a young age raise chickens for fighting and get so excited about it.

After lunch we walked or drove over to the fields, passing some corrals along the way.

One of Consuelo’s brothers, Gustavo, had a deerskin cell phone holder on his belt.

Gustavo, Greg, and his brother and daughter really hit it off well. They insisted we come back to visit soon, and we have every intention of doing so. This is obviously a very hard-working, wholesome Mazatlán community that we would love to get to know better.

The fields on one side of the road are organic. Gustavo told us the produce is mostly sold to Mexico City or exported abroad. They had many different kinds of vegetables here, scallions and corn. Acres and acres of green.

The fields on the other side of the road are “regular,” non-organic. These fields seemed to go on forever. We were there just as the field workers finished loading 16 TONS of tomatoes into a trailer truck, bound for DF.

We had to leave earlier than the rest of the group, so we missed visiting the dairy and the “biodigestor” (compost system?). As we drove out, however, a group of field workers asked if I’d take their photo. Here it is, folks.

One young man in particular wishes to send a special hello to all the young ladies on Facebook 😉

I’ll close with a beautiful shot that Greg took of some turkeys in the yard. It was a long and very wonderful day. Thank  you, Martha, Gaby, and everyone else who helped make today happen. We are so happy to know you, and look forward to seeing you again soon and helping in any way we can to support you as you work to develop our area in environmentally respectful and sustainable ways.

Link to an article on our day’s trip in the Noroeste.

Meseta de Cacaxtla Tour with Conanp – Comunidad Guillermo Prieto

Second stop on our tour today was at the organic community orchards and gardens of Comunidad Guillermo Prieto, a couple of kilometers north of La Chicayota on the highway. My oh my do they have beautiful produce! (If you missed it, link to blog post on our first stop, La Chicayota)

Lush, delicious, fresh; all they lack is a market. They sadly told us that much of their first-year bumper crop of scrumptious organic tomatoes went unsold! We of course immediately told them about the new Mazatlán Farmers’ Market/Mercado Orgánico de Mazatlán every Saturday morning in Plaza Zaragoza, Mazatlán. The cooperative’s leader, Sra. Sacramento, promised they would be here this Saturday to start the application process, so that their organic produce might also be sold there on Saturdays.

Sra. Sacramento… a beautiful name, don’t you think? That is her in the photo at left. When I told her she had a beautiful name, she said it’s what she’s been “saddled with” because when she was young her father moved north to tend fields in Sacramento, CA.
To Sacramento’s left, in the red shirt in the photo, is Carlos Carballo, an engineer, teacher of organic farming, holistic cattle raising, and ….

Hydroponics. These farms are located in an area of town that is sort of “off the grid.” The only source of water, other than private delivery by truck, is to have it piped in from Dimas, miles away. The water from Dimas is turned on once a day for two hours. To work around this shortage of water and be able to reuse some the precious water they do have, the community has turned to hydroponics.

Another difficulty facing the organic farms of Comunidad Guillermo Prieto is that they don’t have a steady market for their product. Traditional planting aggravates this market problem because crops ripen at the same time and need to be harvested quickly. Hydroponics, as we were told, allow the plants to root indoors in a greenhouse, protected from the sun, and provide the farmer a bit more leeway with when to put the plants in soil. In this way, the cooperative farmers can choose when to transplant a hydroponically rooted strawberry or lettuce plant, and extend the harvest!

Comunidad Guillermo Prieto uses two kinds of hydroponic systems. The first, as you see above and at left, is a tube system. The engineering uses readily available items (see the rebar holding the piping on the wood support).

The second hydroponic system we saw  here were floating gardens — plants rooting into the water through holes in styrofoam! It was really cool. Four times a day for 15 minutes each time, pumps are turned on to circulate and refresh the water.

We saw lots of kinds of lettuce, cilantro, and scallions growing in these floating gardens.

And here in the photo you can see how well the roots respond to the floating garden concept.

Because the community here doesn’t yet have sufficient greenhouse space or netting, they are unable to vine-ripen their organic tomatoes. If they allow the tomatoes to ripen on the vine, the birds eat their crop. Thus, they harvest them while still green, and allow the tomatoes to ripen inside the netted greenhouse, safely out of the way of the hungry birds.

We saw a lot of different crops here, including peppers, camote(sweet potato), cherry tomatoes, and citrus fruits.

A bumblebee inside a camoteflower.

And some camote, peeking up through the soil.

A nice healthy broccoli plant…

Many thanks to our hosts. We weren’t able to spend a lot of time here. I would have loved to have toured the orchards and some of the other fields. As we left I was gifted with a huge bunch of basil and three gorgeously sweet grapefruit. I will be back, to buy some plants and produce, and to visit the terrific people we met. Thank you all!

(Link to third and final blog post from today’s journey, Los Llanitos)

UPDATE:
I am really happy to report that yesterday, Jan. 28, Sacramento and her crew were at the Mercado Orgánico Mazatlán. Conanp had submitted all their paperwork, and will be buying them a tent to aid their display. Hooray! So very happy that this trip and this post had a positive outcome in that way. Sacramento was psyched because they quickly sold out of greens and were well on their way to selling out of other vegetables as well. So glad also that MOM/Mazatlán Farmers Market and Conanp are also now in touch.