Blue corn is an ancient heirloom and it is up to 30% higher in protein than an average variety. In the United States, it is often associated with the Pueblo nations of the Southwest where it was grown for centuries before the arrival of the Spanish in 1540. Even today, New Mexican cuisine wouldn’t be the same without the iconic blue tortillas and chips that are also used in various other regions south of the border. Last winter, Vit Kaspar made a trip to New Mexico where he obtained some seed from the Red Willow Farm run by the indigenous people of Taos. This corn has an extremely reduced growing season due to the short summers in its region of origin, at the high elevation of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It was therefore expected to be potentially suitable for fall planting in South Texas. The preliminary trial resulted in a harvest within 60-65 days and yielded high quality kernels. After processing the shucked corn with lime (nixtamal), experimental tortillas were prepared at the Starr County Extension office. The Blue corn is now part of the Starr County Community Seed Bank and it will be made available to the public.
In an effort to reduce the amount of summer weeds that grow and fill the gardens while the students are away on summer break, we tilled the larger gardens in June and planted “Lab-lab”, an African bean plant traditionally used here in deer feed plots on hunting ranches. The bean grows well in the heat and after being watered for two or three weeks requires no additional watering. Due to its aggressive vining growth, “Lab-lab” fills in the row quickly and attains canopy cover within a few weeks and easily out grows most summer weeds here except the dreaded pigweed. We planted Lablab extensively at R.T. Barrera Elementary, and Grulla High School. Though we have had a hotter summer than expected, the Lablab grew swiftly. The plant did a great job beating the grassy weeds and caused to gardens to have very few weeds this summer. We are currently conducting “kill” tillage, a shallow tillage meant to kill all the weeds and plants in the garden and leave them near the soil surface while avoiding “planting” the weeds seeds with a deeper till. With a little rain in the next two weeks, the weed seeds will germinate, but can easily be killed with an additional tillage just prior to planting.
LEARN. GROW, Eat & Go!
TEXAS CHILDREN HAVE HIGH OBESITY RATES: In 5 Texas sites, a sample of 3rd grade students revealed that 45% – 54% of students were overweight or obese.
RISK OF OBESITY INCLUDE: lower school attendance, increased risk of being teased, bullied, and developing Type 2 Diabetes during childhood.
This program is youth gardening program that engages 3rd graders in a 14 week program where they plant a fall and spring garden, have recipe demonstrations and tasting activities. The students are also challenged to a two – eight week activity called Walk Across Texas. The physical activity project is designed to encourage family, school staff and volunteers to become involved.
Join us on Thursday, March 17th from 3:00-5:00 at the San Carlos Community Center for our monthly farmer’s market kick off event! There will be Zumba, fruit and vegetable vendors from the community, moon jumps for the kids, games and activities!
Touting a new program as the first in Texas to be directed at reducing preventable diseases, Texas A&M University officials on Tuesday announced their Healthy Texas Initiative, which will first launch with a focus on South Texas. The initiative, which was announced at the Capitol, will be operated through A&M’s newly created Texas A&M Institute for Public Health Improvement. Also involved in the program are the Texas A&M Health Science Center and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
To date, we have had roughly six coalition meetings within each of the four target communities the grant is working closely with and working diligently to pursue each agenda posed collectively by coalition members. Using reoccurring themes identified, trainings are set to take place to address the broad range of issues and help remedy current environmental barriers. The next training the WOW coalition will be presenting will feature Tom Hushen who is an expert in manipulating environmental design to aid in crime prevention. This very exciting 3 day course will address human behavior, planning, zoning, safety, walk through field assessments, and much more! The WOW grant team will be extending the invitation to all interested community members and expand to include city management/urban planning & development for all of Hidalgo County.