An hour outside of Oaxaca City, just off the road heading to some of the region’s best mezcal-producing towns, we find a man embarking on a mission to cultivate wild agaves. Born to quaker parents in Mexico City, the man’s life has taken him through mexico and the USA, ultimately landing him deep within Mezcal country. We call him the ‘Carpenter’ in reference to his first career as a home builder, a career that withdrew as his passion for agave plants blossomed. For the past 10 years, the Carpenter has been working alongside various master mezcaleros, learning about the many wild agaves they use in an effort to insure a future for the plants.
Only very recently have efforts to cultivate wild agave species been seriously examined. It was once thought that wild agaves could only grow in their wild landscapes, and seed collection was futile. With the efforts of such horticulturalists as the Carpenter, there are a few programs effectively growing wild agaves, and replanting them in new landscapes. The success comes with an understanding of the need for bio-dynamic planting programs that allow multiple agaves species to grow in the same area, along with other non-agave plants. Weeds and grasses are also allowed to grow within the agave fields, to insure natural landscape and soil diversity. “We are understanding the importance of bio-diversity for these plants,” says the Carpenter, “The mycelium (micro-bacterial) system these plants create under the ground to support each other is really important to their ability to grow.”
Madre Mezcal has integrated these practices into our farm, and have an expanding sustainability program, that includes outreach and education concerning agave cultivation and environmental awareness.