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San Antonio Food Bank To Utilize 45 Acres Of Farmland At Misson San Juan

The San Antonio Food Bank will now control 45 acres of farmland at Mission San Juan on the far south side of San Antonio.  As part of the land use agreement, the Food Bank and its volunteers will grow crops on land the missions use for demonstrations of its acequia system.

An acequia is a type of ditch used when the missions were founded in the 1730s to irrigate crops.

At Mission San Juan Capistrano, Tom Castanos, education coordinator for the Missions, pulls a small wooden gate open to allow water to rush through to tilled land.

“This technology predates Spain, but they in turn transplant that technology to the New World.”

This 5-acre tract of land is a Spanish colonial demonstration farm for classes and school field trips. Behind it is 40 more acres that will be managed by the Food Bank.

San Antonio Food Bank CEO Eric Cooper says this was technically the first grocery store in South Texas.

“It’s what put food on the table for so many. And in partnership with the National Park Service the San Antonio Food Bank is going to be bringing back the agricultural power of our Missions.”

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The Food Bank will use modern equipment on the large piece of land and the acequia system on the smaller tract. Marti Arce, is the superintendent of the Missions National Historical Park.

“We didn’t have the money to hire a full-time farmer. We don’t have the expertise so we needed to find a way to do it without money.”

The Food Bank plans to start using the farm land in the coming weeks after the soil dries from the recent rains. Crops could begin to flourish by the fall. The farmland could produce up to 500,000 pounds of produce each year.  The Food Bank is in need of volunteers to help with the farming of the land.