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Best of 2000: Best Place To Learn Cactus Farming

Granjas Familiares
"División del Norte"
Colonia Las Torres,
Rinconada Dos, Tijuana

An hour east of downtown Tijuana, where the paved streets turn into rutted roads, and the houses run out and the mountain heaves up toward the sky, Don Gabino Moreno Santana tends his cactus fields. "I sell about 50 to 60 cases of nopales [cactus paddles] every week," He fingers a green shoot. "These are the ones," he says. "They grow quickly." It's a bumpy ride up, but here in the mountain lands above Tijuana, people are country-generous. And Don Gabino, who is president of the Granjas Familiares (Family Farms) land association, is happy to pass on knowledge. "You can plop these in -- just stick them in well-drained ground," he says, "and they'll grow." They produce the prickly paddles that you defang, then chop up to add to your Mexican salad, or grill and mix with your scrambled eggs, or stuff with cheese and fry, or turn into a salsa, or use as a traditional poultice for bruises or dressing for a wound. Then there are the fruit, the prickly pear (tuna). As Don Gabino will tell you, these cactus keep on giving: they're a great source of Vitamin C and fiber too.

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Granjas Familiares
"División del Norte"
Colonia Las Torres,
Rinconada Dos, Tijuana

An hour east of downtown Tijuana, where the paved streets turn into rutted roads, and the houses run out and the mountain heaves up toward the sky, Don Gabino Moreno Santana tends his cactus fields. "I sell about 50 to 60 cases of nopales [cactus paddles] every week," He fingers a green shoot. "These are the ones," he says. "They grow quickly." It's a bumpy ride up, but here in the mountain lands above Tijuana, people are country-generous. And Don Gabino, who is president of the Granjas Familiares (Family Farms) land association, is happy to pass on knowledge. "You can plop these in -- just stick them in well-drained ground," he says, "and they'll grow." They produce the prickly paddles that you defang, then chop up to add to your Mexican salad, or grill and mix with your scrambled eggs, or stuff with cheese and fry, or turn into a salsa, or use as a traditional poultice for bruises or dressing for a wound. Then there are the fruit, the prickly pear (tuna). As Don Gabino will tell you, these cactus keep on giving: they're a great source of Vitamin C and fiber too.

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