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Organic Produce in Merida

Organic Produce in Merida

19 January 2010 Daily Life 16

We've been hearing about Don Jorge's organic farm from various friends for awhile, but had no time to go check it out and do it justice with an article. Luckily for us (and for you!), there is Beryl Gorbman, a friend and writer who lives in Merida. The following is her report on the man who grows organic vegetables here in Merida. Enjoy!...

 

“Don George” (Jorge Armando Solis Hoyos) is a 78-year-old Maya who was born and raised in Merida. His parents were from Peto. Don George says that he quit school early and worked in his parents’ milpa in Merida. Times were hard, he said. If there was no water, there was no food and no money.

When Don George was 18, he went to the USA and labored as a bracero in the fields around Riverside, California. After forty years, he had enough, and came home to Merida to grow produce here. He works with his sons, Victor and Felipe.

Don Jorge speaks a few words of English. For instance when he shouts at his dog to stop barking, he says, Shut Up.

Son Victor works a double shift. He sells the produce at the Merida market early in the day and about 3:30 pm arrives at the ejido to help with the vegetables.

I stopped by there today and bought mint, cilantro, young lettuce, and radishes that I watched him pick from the ground. On a wooden table, he had onions (purple and white), habanero and xcatic chiles, tomatoes and sour oranges from another field he operates. Other seasonal crops include: cebollina, watermelon, cucumber, melons, epazote, basil, squashes, mangos, arugula, various chiles, etc.

Don George and his sons are proud that they use no chemicals (well, almost none). The two acres (one hectare) are lovingly and endlessly tended by both of them. When I visited, they were cooking frijoles in a blackened metal pot on an outdoor woodfire. Roasted Xcatic chiles with lime and garlic were standing by to be added.

They use animal dung for fertilizer. At the Xmatkuil Fair, they bought a truckload of dung, the product of Percheron horses and donkeys. A mountain of kaka.

This wonderful little farm is on ejidal land, south of town on the Xmatkuil road, on the Merida side of the periferico. Go straight down Calle 50 from town, pass Circuito, and get the the left turn lane to turn left at Calle 137. Go one block east on Calle 137 and it’s at the end of the first block, on the right. They have another, larger terreno located nearby.

I’ve been trying to find organic wheat seeds that I can germinate for manna bread, and Felipe says he will hunt them down for me.

Father and son deliver produce in town, so I gave them my address and asked them to come by when they’re in the Sta. Ana area. As Don George was tying up my bags of produce, he smiled and said that this is how it should be – that the people who grow food sell it directly to the the people who eat it.

Love this peaceful place.

Beryl's Blog with this story and others about living in Merida can be found at www.gorbman.com.

Comments

  • Carolyn Baersch 9 months ago

    Looking for Jorge and Margo. Huntington Beach, California. Met Jorge. Lost contact 1998. Please email me and let me know. Thanks so much...

  • luiza 2 years ago

    That is just awesome ! What a blessing to be able to find ways to buy healthy produce directly from growers who take pride on farming .

  • Elizabeth 6 years ago

    Great article. I cant wait to visit him. I see everyone talking about the seeds and I was wondering if you are using non-GMO seeds. I would hate for the gross Monsanto group use their legal team to strong arm a lovely hardworking farmer such as this man. Be aware not to use GMO seeds. Just because seeds are organic does not mean they are not GMO. Any info is greatly appreciated.

  • Brin 7 years ago

    I have been to Don Jorge's farm a few times and an effort is made to reduce chemical use but it is also up to us as consumers to accept that bunch of lovely radishes with a few nibbles out of the red part... they may not always be as beautiful as the toxic ones. Until Don Jorge hears from all of us that we understand and accept the odd blemish, he will feel the pressure to spray on the bug juice.
    In the meantime, while we are waiting for certified local produce we can encourage this shift of consciousness at the Don Jorge huerto by supporting his efforts in the right direction... we will at least be buying really fresh local produce and if there are enough of us asking those hard questions about pesticide use and buying that spinach in spite of the jagged edged leaves he may soon be able to afford to cater to our demands. But he needs to make a living!
    Also, he is delighted to plant a row of your favourite veg if you bring him the seed. Does anybody have organic seed for peaches and cream corn? I'm missing that sweet corn!

  • dj sarver 7 years ago

    I am coming in december. I have fabulous lemons. If you want some seeds, post where I can call or bring them when we come.

  • Working Gringos 7 years ago

    Don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but one of our readers visited Don Jorge's place and asked him what he does if the bugs start eating his vegetables. He proceeded to list for her a number of pesticides that he uses on those occasions.

    There is a SLOW Food Market every Saturday morning. The participants do their level best to bring and sell only organic foods. Growing organically is difficult in the tropics, and has not been the norm here for many years, but it is slowly taking hold. Don Jorge's vegetables are still some of the best and freshest around, but sadly, not as organic as some of you might like.

    Poco a poco, more organic products are becoming available here!

  • Corrine Gogal 7 years ago

    I will be living in Progreso as of September and eventually buying a place in Merida to live. I will be in Merida often and will definitely want to buy my produce from Don and his sons. You said that Victor sells the produce at the Merida Market early in the day. I would be interested in knowing exactly where in the market I could track them down to buy it there instead of going out to the "farm" to get it. I'd appreciate any information as to how I would find them in the market? Thanks.

  • P.Puhma Abraham 7 years ago

    Thank you so very much for your article, we need more info on natural foods!

  • Mary Lou Martin 7 years ago

    Does anyone have any lemon seeds they could give to Don? I'd give anything to have a lemon tree, or barring that, to be able to buy lemons.

    Mary Lou Martin

    P.S. Beryl - we're sort of in the Santa Anna area, on 37 between 60 and 62. Give us a call sometime 285-1631. I'd love to chat.

  • Jose A Herrera 7 years ago

    Enjoyed your "Organic Produce in Merida" article. Made me laugh out loud about the mountain of kaka information... so how can you grow organic vegetables without kaka??
    I am going to visit el senor Don Jorge. I love organic vegetables!! Thank You !

  • Nicole 7 years ago

    Do you have more information on the few chemicals he does use? That would be very helpful. Thanks!

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