December Volunteer of the Month: Jorge Morales


As a kid in Oaxaca, Mexico, Jorge first learned how to care for the land by helping his dad harvest alfalfa and corn on the weekends, and care for farm animals. Now, after living in San Jose for the past 8 years, he tends his own plot in the Cornucopia community garden in the front of Prusch Park, and shares his talents and his passion for agriculture with Veggielution.

(I’m going to plant my own corn,
to make my own tortillas!”

A few years ago, after a friend from his danza group started talking about GMO corn, Jorge began to think more about his food – what was in it and where it came from – and developed an interest in organic gardening. He says that before he started learning about GMOs and other negative aspects of our current food system, he was “completely lost” when it came to food – eating unhealthily and not feeling a connection to what he was consuming.

After sharing a community garden plot with another friend for awhile, and finding it difficult to agree on what to plant, Jorge got his own plot in Prusch Park. He plants corn, beans, chia, amaranth, and other medicinal plants – all crops that hold traditional value in Mexican culture and cuisine. For Jorge, growing his own food is more than just a hobby; it is a way to connect with the land, and to contribute to his own health and well-being. With the ubiquity of GMO corn, it can be overwhelming trying to find corn products in the grocery he can trust, and so Jorge decided, “yo voy a sembrar mi propio maíz, para hacer mis propias tortillas!” (I'm going to plant my own corn, to make my own tortillas!”

Gardening in the front of Prusch Park, Jorge had known for awhile that there was something back here, way at the back of the park, but it wasn't until he saw Veggielution from the freeway that he realized exactly what. In July 2013, Jorge came to volunteer at Veggielution for the first time, learning how to prune eggplants with the farm crew. Since then he comes to help out at the farm whenever he can, sharing his knowledge and learning from us too. He loves that there's always something different to do at the farm, and that he can learn and work the land like he did when he was a kid. Jorge remembers harvesting the milpa (Three Sisters Garden) when he was 8 or 9 years old, making a game out of finding the corn cobs and pumpkins that other people couldn't see. He hunted chapulines (grasshoppers) to sell, developing a strategy for where to find them and when it was best to try and catch them. Jorge says that since moving to San Jose, the park has meant everything to him; through danza, the community garden, and Veggielution, he has been able to make friends, maintain traditions, and re-connect with what was so important to him growing up: the land.