- The Plate
Reviving a Centuries-Old Farm to Feed the Hungry
With help from a food bank and an ancient irrigation system, an 18th-century Spanish mission is set to farm its land again.
As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial, a new sort of mission is taking root at one of its West Texas parks, where four early 18th-century Spanish missions still dot the landscape along the San Antonio River.
More than churches, the missions once included housing, granaries, and farm and livestock fields that sustained small communities. Now, the surprisingly green acreage surrounding the Mission San Juan Capistrano—which underwent a period of cultivation lasting nearly 250 years—will soon grow food again thanks to a unique partnership and an ancient irrigation system.
This is a goal the park service has been working toward for more than 30 years, says Mardi Arce, superintendent of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. But she