CASA students explore the cultural process of making chicos


By: Mariah Pepe

In meeting with the mission, vision, and goals of Adams State, as a Hispanic Serving Institution, CASA House is planning events to "keep local and valley traditions" alive. Their focus is to educate students of the historical and cultural traditions within our San Luis Valley.

As part of this goal, Oneyda Maestas, Director of the CASA House, took five students on a trip to the Martinez farm in San Pablo, Colorado, which is five miles south of San Luis. Carlos Martinez, a former student, invited the group to see his family’s farm, which has been passed down between generations. Each generation learns the strategic process of making chicos, as the farm is strictly run by the family.

On the trip, the students participated in building a fire, sealing the horno or oven, and husking corn. “The Chico making process was a firsthand look into the longstanding tradition of community and family within the valley. The entire process from picking the helotes to preparing the horno and finally the de-kernelling was a great example of how to build community support networks using the natural cycle of mother nature to bring community and family together in order to make healthy and local food. This yearly cycle connects different generations, emphasizing the importance of hard work and respect for the land. The trip to the Martinez family farm gave me firsthand look of one of the many deep traditions that continue to thrive in the San Luis Valley,” said Nathan Crites-Herren, a student participant.

For the continuing academic year, CASA students are planning a variety of Hispanic Heritage events, including butchering a sheep for the CASA House freezer, inviting "sheep-herder" guest speakers, hosting a tour of La Magre, visiting the Cave of Colors in Questa, NM, and participating in the San Jeronimo days in Taos, New Mexico, as well as making homemade flour tortillas, tamales, empanadas, and other traditional foods.