Mendoza Family Farms Gathering
On Mother’s Day evening 2022, the Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC) had the opportunity to participate in a gathering at Mendoza Family Farms in the East Valley. The goal of the event was to advance the Farms’ mission by serving their community.
Mendoza Family Farms exists to provide healthy food to the local community. It is located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation. By hosting both public and private events centered on healthy lifestyle choices and life skills, Mendoza Family Farms is committed to improving the quality of life for people within their communities. As a farmer, permaculturist, and teacher, Ed Mendoza is the visionary behind the farm.
CAC Advisory Board members Michelle Meyer and Mike Butzine are regular volunteers at Mendoza Farms and supported Ed Mendoza in planning and preparing for the event. In addition to supporting the Cultural Arts Coalition workshops, they helped set up the grounds, prepared for the community mural activity and brought in their neon sculptures for the band stand among their many contributions. Additionally, Michelle met with Muslimah Hameed and Melanie Ohm at Mendoza Family Farms in April to walk and talk about how the CAC might best support the gathering.
As can be imagined, growing and distributing healthy food is at the center of the life of this farm. On arrival, visitors were invited to partake of kombucha and a bowl of pozole with ingredients fresh from the farm. While other activities were taking place, delicious food was being served!
People of all ages joined the activities throughout the evening. In the image above, rain sticks made by artist Keith Johnson are the focus of the conversation. In the images that follow, Keith is recreating the sounds of the rainforest with a variety of collected and handmade instruments. The feathered hats were worn with pride. Keith's symphony of rain, crickets, birds, and frogs brought many smiles. One of the youngest participants most loved the bird sounds and frogs...and the hat!
It is human to represent our values, ideas, and beliefs in symbolic forms--music, visual, dance, storytelling. The Man in the Maze (below) stamped on the floor of the patio reminds us that these are ancient, enduring practices. Before the sunset, walls were filled with imagery, a millenia-old human practice of recording ideas and stories to be communicated with others. Many hands contributed to these murals.
As the evening settled in, joyful music provided by Romoncito & Co. rang out over the farm, inviting people to dance and elevating the energy.
The gathering was a time apart to consider personal wellbeing and enjoy community through the farm environment, physical exercise, good food, enriching activities and celebrative music.
Participants had the opportunity to create "Power Sticks" to set intentions for their own wellbeing and participation in community. Each person selected a remnant of a peach tree branch on the farm, then walked out over the land looking for objects of significance for them.
A variety of materials were available for people to use: wire, hemp, leather, fabrics and beads. In the middle of the art making and conversation, the youngest ones created beaded bracelets.
Written commitments to self were rolled into scrolls and attached to the Power Sticks. The beauty and meaning in the individual work celebrates the personal intentions. A few artists shared their work below.