Updated: Sep 7, 2022
After struggling for a year, a tiny Maya village has a harvest that brings hope!
In the fall of 2020, three hurricanes hit the Yucatan Peninsula back to back in a short six week time frame. The damage on the coast was bad, but not terrible. However, the storms came just as the inland corn crop was nearing its days of harvest. The winds devastated the fields, knocking down underdeveloped plants and prophesying a hungry future for the people in the farm villages that depended on them.
We went to visit our friends in one of these tiny pueblos, survey the damage, and hear the story. Small family farms are the principal food source there and it made my heart sink when I saw the great brown corn stalks laying spread out across the land like some giant trampled them underfoot. To make matters more urgent, we learned that this was not just any corn, it was heritage corn that the Maya people had been growing for centuries, probably more than a thousand years! If it were lost, there was no way to ever replace it. The seeds would be gone forever and the only recourse for the farmers would be to buy GMO corn seeds from the government that were sterile and would not reproduce the following year, plunging the families into a never ending cycle of needing to purchase seed from the government every year, which they could never afford.
Thankfully, although the fields were flattened, some of the corn was developed enough to rescue for food, some for seed, and some for the pigs and chickens. But it quickly became a race against time to recover it. The ground was still too wet for the farmers to go into the fields, not just because of the mud, but because the damp plants attract deadly snakes! One young man who was trying to salvage some cobs was bitten the day before. Thankfully, our good friend who is the village healer was able to help him!
So it was vital to wait and let the fields dry out lest anyone else come to a worse end. But...in the meantime, wild animals were stealing the spindly cobs and, with too much more time, mold would take over and all would be lost!
Once the fields were dry, the farmers would have about a week or maybe two. In that short time everything would need to be gathered in. But a Maya father and his sons cannot gather a whole field of corn in that short time! So what would we do?
This was during some of the worst days of the pandemic, and most of the people in town were out of work. So we, thanks to the MANY and GENEROUS donations of good people all over the world, were able to hire men who were out of work to help the farmers gather in the corn! A solution that benefitted everyone!
And so they did. They worked together, people made money to feed their families and farmers were able to rescue enough of the harvest to have seed for the following season, albeit a small one.
Very little corn was good enough to eat, and that was mixed with squash to make the tortillas in the ongoing days. Thanks to the people who continued to contribute to this little village, families were able to buy govt corn (not suitable for planting but ok for emergency eating), chilies, limes and other necessary staples. It was enough to make it through the season until they were able to plant again and bring in a small harvest.
Just a few weeks ago, we were back out in the village and my heart soared as were were toured through the bags of corn cobs still resting in their husks and waiting for the next season of planting (which is this spring). Such reason for HOPE and JOY! In fact, our good friend, Francisco, the village healer, was able to harvest enough to be able to share seeds with other farmers who were still in need!
We, (Max and I) want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support for these lovely people. Francisco and his family and the members of their community want to thank you as well! They are forever grateful to you for helping them save, not just their corn fields, but a way of life that has existed for over a thousand years. Their way of life!
From the bottom of my heart,