Family traditions and ancestral flavors
When Laura Perez and Fanny Guadalupe-Blauer created the program “Sabores de Mi Patria” in 2019, they were thinking about family traditions — specifically about how their Indigenous American ancestors planted crops.
Their program, which translates to “Flavors of my Homeland,” is a collaboration between Wasatch Community Gardens and Artes de México in Utah and teaches ancient agricultural practices to young people to help them connect with their heritage. The program guides the students from preparing, blessing and planting seeds all the way through to the harvest.
Last September, Laura and Fanny sat down at StoryCorps’s mobile tour stop in Salt Lake City to talk about their shared Mexican-American culture, the ways they connect with their heritage and how “Sabores de Mi Patria" has helped them strengthen their community.
Learn more about “Sabores de Mi Patria" on PBS Utah's "Modern Gardner."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Fanny Guadalupe-Blauer: I remember when we started the project. It was because of the Mayan culture (exhibition) at the Natural History Museum of Utah (that focused on) the … relationship with community gardens, and I thought, "How do we identify with all this food that we eat?"
Laura Perez: The workshops (have helped me learn) more about myself, my culture. I'm trying to fit into these boxes of I'm either a Mexican or I'm American but this project has really helped me realize that I'm just me. I don't have to fit in a box.
FGP: I see that with so many kids and families, the moment that we plant the seeds, or when we harvest what we have been growing, there is a transformation. People start talking about their history, their stories. This makes me cry because I've been denying my native language for a while, and I come from a family of farmers. I never thought I would do this again in this country.
What do you do with the students? And how do you approach this project to bring back identity and to feel proud of your roots?
LP: When we took the students to the garden for the harvest celebration. I was listening to them, and they would say, "Oh, hey, this smells like my grandma's house." Or, "My grandma has this in her house." This idea of growing your own food, you're putting your roots where you want.
FGP: I like to think of my ancestors, particularly my great-grandmother. What would you tell your ancestors if they could see what you're doing?
LP: My parents made this decision to come here to the U.S. and I've heard (from family members) when we go back (to visit), like "Oh, you're an American." It's like, "No, we haven't lost that." I try to remind my parents, too, that I'm not going to forget where they came from, and their sacrifices. I also don't want to forget about my abuelitos, or mis abuelitos. I want to know also that I can let my future kids, my future nieces and nephews know where we came from, and not to forget who we are.