Meet the Village: Mario Vallejo – Farmer

Farmer Mario Vallejo
Mario is a legend in The Ecology Center village. He has been a caretaker of the land his entire life with 30 of those years tending the earth here in San Juan Capistrano.
What’s your role in the village?
I run the tractor operation on the farm which entails tillage, bed prep, irrigation (t-tape set-up) and cultivation. I also lead much of the planting and hand cultivation (weeding) of our vegetables. 

Tell us about a memory in your life that shaped you becoming a farmer?
Starting at 5 years old, I began working in the fields with my father. I loved it. We would work from sunrise to sunset, 5am-7pm. He taught me to cultivate and care for plants. We grew mixed vegetables that we would bring to market weekly. I arrived to the US when I was 19, in 1978. 

Mario driving the tractor on the farm.

How and where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from the land – la tierra. I am 100% de la tierra, from the land. I come from the farm and forever (si dios quiere) will be on the farm. 

Tell us about a moment when you experienced the power of community?
Community to me are farmers coming together to care for the crops. I’ve been part of many farms. I have been part of this land, here in San Juan Capistrano for 30 years. 

What’s your favorite meal to make?
I love beans, chile, onion, and tomatoes. I can eat beans every day.