Interchange of knowledge and seeds in Tlaxcala, Mexico: Sowing Community

October 2018 

For two days representatives of the Nahuatl, Otomi, Nuu Savi, Maya, Keri and Purhepecha Indigenous Nations gathered to share their wisdom and sacred instructions about the time of planting, based on the principle of sharing. Sharing their seeds, knowledge and all tasks related to cultivating, harvesting and preparing foods; strengthening the good relationship with Mother Earth, food sovereignty and well being.

For Indigenous peoples, one of the sacred instructions about the time of planting is to share. The origin of this is found perhaps in the actual origin of agriculture, and in the sharing of work among the whole community.

Cultivating the earth and planting seeds in the soil has led to a long history of “sowing community” among indigenous peoples, weaving bonds of identity around the vital need to feed ourselves. Not only to nourish our bodies, but to connect with the spirit of the seeds, of the water, and the air, which make it possible for our Mother Earth to provide us with sustenance.

With this sacred understanding, we organized and held this gathering, an exchange of seeds and knowledge: “Sowing Community” on the 13th and 14th of October 2018.

Participants included representatives of the Nahuatl people of the State of Mexico, Veracrúz, Puebla, San Luis Potosí and Tlaxcala; Otomies of the State of Mexico; Ñúu Savis from Oaxaca and Mayas from Campeche. We participated in a ceremony where Fire and Corn came together under the sound of the drum and aroma of coconut from the Keris of the Purhépecha People of Michoacán. Offering corn pinole we maintained our thoughts, words and actions with the same creative energy, with the same purpose: To light our spirits.

Ancient knowledge reminds us that before the word of humans, there was the word of Fire. And in the presence of the Fire we are responsible for what we speak. The Fire listens to us and collects all that information to share it.

In this respect offerings are made to fire honoring this legacy of knowledge, offering the fire to eat his logs of wood, corn tortillas, cup and songs to the spirit.

With the beat of the drums and the glow of Fire in our hearts we began the journey of learning through the plots of the community of Vicente Guerrero, Tlaxcala, admiring how every meter of soil in the Milpa was covered with different crops: tomato, squash, maguey and fruit trees guarding the terraces. Such abundance of food made the experience very hopeful.

There is a story that before the arrival of agroecology to the community, the children were malnourished and in the homes of the people there was no food— as even today is the situation for some of our people.

Instructions were shared about the selection of the seed from the plot— one must take good care of the earliest elotes (cobs of corn) that are more resistant to pests and diseases, coming from the plants with better flowering. This selection will help shorten the cycle of corn cultivation in the face of climate change to have more resistant seeds.

Participants also shared knowledge about the different moon cycles that provide the best situation for sowing, harvesting and for the work of cultivation. We learned about how to prevent soil erosion through terracing systems and how to prepare organic fertilizers to nourish not only the corn that we will then eat but the whole Mother Earth.

United like grains of maize in a cob, this gathering created strong ties and deep knowledge, which are seeds we now will sow in our own communities, watching the cycle pass as we wait for the next year to continue sharing seeds and knowledge.