Pantaleon Florez III
Pantaleon Florez III directly and wholesale markets fruits, vegetables and herbs from a small farm in Lawrence, Kansas. His farm, Maseualkualli Farms, means “The Peoples’ Farms” in Nahuatl, the language of the Indigenous Uto-Aztecan people. The farm houses a seed breeding, reclamation and sovereignty program, as well as a policy and advocacy program to feed people in need by implementing food as a public work.
Florez grows and researches varieties of ancient heirloom corn, bean, squash, pea and peanut varieties from Mexico and South America. As part of Florez’s sociocultural and anthropological research, he conducted a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant project that compared no-till and Indigenous Mexican planting practices. He also experiments with Indigenous Mexican planting practices using ancient growing techniques from the Florentine Codex of 1552, a 16th-century Mesoamerican ethnographic book series.
Florez also serves as Lawrence Public Schools’ Farm 2 School coordinator. There he is working to integrate agricultural education into the school curriculum, assist other farmers in selling directly to the school district, and liaison with a state legislative working group to bolster Farm 2 School efforts in Kansas and regionally. As a ServSafe Manager certified chef, Florez cooks dishes using these ancient varieties for the communities he serves through his farm. He has ambitions to work with family and consumer science and culinary middle and high school classes to teach students about the history and process of the nixtamalization of corn.
“Currently, access to locally grown Indigenous Mexica and Latinx food products is relatively limited in Douglas County and northeast Kansas,” said Florez. “Market custom-ers, restaurant owners, cooks and grocers have seen more of what ancestral crops are possible to produce here in northeast Kansas through this research and my operation.”
He recently completed a Community Food Systems Fellowship through Vital Village Networks at Boston Medical, where he learned methods of community co-design and put tools of systems evaluation into practice. Florez’s work with Kansas-grown jicama will be featured alongside five other farmers in an art installation titled Kansas City Reciprocity by Sean Nash at the new Kansas City International Airport terminal. The sculptural painting celebrates the farmers’ commitment to food security, land stewardship, access, sustainability, ecological diversity and preservation of cultural heritage.
Selected by North Central Region SARE
Marie Flanagan, Communications Specialist
Photo courtesy Pantaleon Florez