A Love for the Land in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley
During the month of December, StoryCorps Mobile partnered with KMBH 88.1 in McAllen, Texas, to record the diverse voices of the Rio Grande Valley. Many of the families that came to record have lived in the Valley for hundreds of years, and were eager to tell the tales of their ancestors. Others, like Diana Garcia-Padilla and her husband Saul, moved to the Valley later in life and have made South Texas home. Through StoryCorps’ partnership with the Border Studies Archive at the University of Texas Pan-American, Diana and Saul came to the booth to talk about the creation of their dream farm, Yahweh’s All Natural Farm and Garden.
Originally from Canatlan, Mexico, Saul Padilla grew up on a farm and built a close connection to the land. When the couple first met in Indiana, Diana knew there was something special about him. As she told Saul, “When I met you were wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy clothes, and I thought…this guy doesn’t even belong in this place.” The pair started dating, and Diana loved that Saul grew vegetables and flowers for her. When Diana was working in South Texas and happened upon an old farm in Harlingen, she knew it was the place for them.
In 2004, Diana and Saul relocated from Indiana to Harlingen, started a small organic garden, and were asked to bring their vegetables to the local farmer’s market. After selling out quickly, they realized that there was a demand in the Rio Grande Valley for all natural produce grown without the use of pesticides. What started as a love for working the land turned into economic opportunity as the couple decided to dedicate their time to developing Yahweh’s All Natural Farm and Garden.
The work wasn’t always easy, but Diana and Saul were committed to caring for their land and animals in a natural way. As Diana said, “When we got there, the soil didn’t have any microorganisms; we didn’t see any worms or anything in the ground. Then we started putting good things in the ground…and we started seeing worms, and bats, and the things that work together.”
Yahweh’s now consists of a total of 35 acres filled with goats, lambs, chickens, peacocks, cows, rescued horses, and rescued dogs. The couple tend three acres of vegetables and an orchard of pecans, bananas, oranges, and grapefruits. Diana and Saul’s community supported agriculture program has grown to 57 members, all of whom invest in the farm and share in its all-natural produce. In addition, they are developing the HOPE Project, which will allow Diana and Saul to teach community members the skills necessary to farm naturally.
During their StoryCorps recording, Diana and Saul both described Yahweh’s All Natural Farm and Garden as “a dream come true.” As Saul said, “I come from a very poor family, and you should see my mom and dad’s faces when they come and see all we have.” Diana added, “It’s about teaching people that poor is just a word. Because we’re rich…We just have to figure out a way to use the best things that we have and share that with other people.”