The average age of the Mexican Small Scale Producer has increased from 52 in 2002 to 65 in 2013. This is now a familiar story; the lack of job opportunities in the local territories force young people to leave their home in search for a better living. Migration from rural areas of Mexico is in an all time high, with almost 2 out of every 1000 inhabitants leaving their homelands in search for a better paid job in the United States or Canada. Ironically, most of the time the jobs that are able to find are related to agriculture or food production.

Being a young food producer in Mexico is an act of resistance. All of the young people you will meet in the next few lines are local leaders and multitalented youth entrepreneurs, many of them have an university degree, and they are playing an essential role in their food communities, changing the way they and those around them relate to their food. Some of them have several jobs to make ends meet, but all of them know the importance that good, clean and fair food has for the future of this planet.

Juan Diego Hernández Cortés, 36.
Diego is a salt producer from Zapotitlán Salinas, Puebla. He works in the salt flats since he was only 5 years old. He also works as a tour guide at his community’s botanical garden, which has given him knowledge of the natural resources from the Tehuacán - Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve. Father of a 6-year-old girl, he wishes to see salt production increase and for this centuries old practice to be transmitted to the next generation.

Martha Irene Jiménez Morales, 26.
Martha and her family are agroecological nopal producers from Milpa Alta, Distrito Federal; a rural region of Mexico’s capital. She’s an accountant, but at a very young age she understood she would dedicate herself to the production of this vegetable, painted on the national flag, just as her parents and grandparents did before her. She is responsible of sales and offers their nopal in the biggest food market of the country.

Angel García Ortiz, 33.
Angel belongs to “Del Magueyal” group from Españita, Tlaxcala, a family-owned business dedicated to foraging, processing and adding value to at least 14 different products obtained from the maguey plant; from maguey worms to maguey syrup. He and his family are the keepers of ancient wheat varieties, a staple in Tlaxcala’s agriculture. He also build a bike-machines and is a developer of a community workshop.

Laura Elisa Ortega Medina, 20.
Born in Morelia, Michoacán, Laura studies educational psychology in Mexico City. She coordinates SFYN D.F., one of the most active chapters in the country. She is a foodie and lover of gastronomy, in her spare time she volunteers in many NGO’s to learn how to create a better future through taste education. She becomes enthusiastic of farmer’s markets, where she likes to meet the producers themselves.

Arnulfo Melo Rosas, 37.
Arnulfo is a traditional milpa farmer from Milpa Alta, D.F. He studied accounting and worked for a major firm, but he decided that connecting himself to his family’s past in agriculture was the best for him. He is now the “comisario ejidal”, responsible for his community’s land and resources. As a health promoter, he engages his community into healthy eating of locally produced food and encourages other farmers to return to traditional agriculture.

Cecilia Barocio Hernández, 25.
Ceci is from Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala; the capital city of the state. She’s an environmental scientist and coordinator of SFYN Tlaxcala, the largest and most active group in the country. She experienced the Slow Food philosophy while studying abroad in Italy. She now works part time for SFYN Tlaxcala and for a local NGO that seeks out socio-environmental experiences to share with people interested in knowing another Tlaxcala.

Santiago Lorenzo Martinez, 32.
Santiago is a member of the Tseltal indigenous community; his playground is the Lacandon rainforest, where he lives, in Amador Hernandez, Chiapas. He is a traditional mayan farmer and a local health promoter and activist. He inherited his forefathers’ land, and sees it as his birthright. That’s why he organizes events and workshops to bring together his community around local and global issues that affect them directly.

Alicia Rojas Velasco, 22.
Alicia lives in Santa Maria Cuquila, Oaxaca. She belongs to the Mixteco indigenous group, and currently studies to become an agronomist. She specializes herself in small scale backyard production, and tries to bring about a change in her community, by applying traditional knowledge and biodiversity to local small scale production units in the neighboring communities. She facilitates local experience exchanges and workshops.

Juan Olmedo De La Sota-Riva, 28.
Juan lives in Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala, but he works in the Barranca de Metztitlán Biosphere Reserve, in the state of Hidalgo, where he manages a small scale farm that combines goat milk and cheese production with maguey syrup production. He, as agroecologist, is responsible for production and husbandry, furthermore, he is the legal representative of a rural enterprise group called “Del Rincón”.

Janette Lagunas Raya, 29.
Janette lives in Morelia, Michoacán. She created “Bichos Delicious”, a small scale company that forages, buys and processes grasshoppers from marginalized regions of her state, providing self employment and pest control. She is in charge of the production and sales; she gets to create new products such as candy bars, snacks and even tortillas. Bugs are not part of her local food culture, finding local markets is a challenge.

Eduardo Correa Palacios, 31.
Eduardo lives in Tlalnepantla, Estado de México; a suburban district of México City. He is the national coordinator for SFYN México, and was responsible for hand-picking the delegation that would be representing México in Terra Madre Giovani - We Feed The Planet. He is a gastronome in formation and has been developing the network in México since 2013, He has the highest hopes placed for the future of food.

This group of fine young people will bring their hopes and dreams for a better world through food and biodiversity, as long as all of their ideas, doubts and tribulations. They are eager learners and dedicated workers, and undoubtedly they will proudly represent their communities, friends and families, without even knowing that they also represent a better future for everybody.

See you in Milan!

Eduardo Correa Palacios - SFYN México National Coordinator