I was sitting in the dirt. A conch shell sounded to signal a turning to each of the four directions. Then I watched as three women in traditional Aztec outfits danced around an altar against the backdrop of skyscrapers--their drum beats accentuated by the freeway traffic just a block away. What a beautiful and poignant juxtaposition.
On April 2, students and professors from the Chicano Studies program gathered with Seeds at City farmers, volunteers, and Native American elders for a magical ceremony. (See slideshow pictures below). The new site where we gathered has been named Teocentli Calli, meaning "home of the ancestral corn" in Nahuatl.
The occasion was a planting of the Three Sisters crops: corn, beans, and squash. In traditional Mesoamerican milpa agriculture, these three crops are so named because of their harmonious qualities. The corn grows tall and strong so that the beans are able to climb it. The beans fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, which is beneficial to the corn, and the squash is used as a ground cover; monopolizing the sunlight so that weeds don't grow, repelling pests with its prickly trichomes, and retaining moisture in the soil by protecting it from wind and sun.
After the songs, dances and words of gratitude, each person planted a few seeds of an heirloom variety called Pink Hopi corn, followed by a potluck in the sunshine. The beans and squash will be planted in a week or so once the corn has established itself.
I am thankful to have shared this ceremony with the 50 or so people gathered that day. There seemed to be no rushed agenda, but a quiet wonder and an acknowledgment of the symbolic actions being performed. In the middle of a bustling city, this ceremony felt somehow like a blessed and effortless act. The sense of connection to each other and the earth left me joyful and eager to continue cultivating these relationships.