Growing the Heart of Texas Exploring the Role of Mexican-Americans in Food Production and Rural Communities


This is an interdisciplinary project funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Connections Grant. Its main objective was to develop four interdisciplinary classes that would offer agriculture students at Texas A&M University and other institutions a deeper recognition of the crucial social and economic roles played by Mexican-Americans in the agricultural production and food culture of Texas. This project integrates agricultural sciences (soil and crops, animal husbandry, horticulture) and the humanities field of Spanish language (second language pedagogy, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, narrative).

Project Co-Directors: Dr. Gabriela C. Zapata (Hispanic Studies), Dr. María Irene Moyna (Hispanic Studies), and Dr. Leonardo Lombardini (former faculty member in Horticultural Sciences). Collaborators: Graduate students: Zaida Aguilar, Laura Bernal, Amy King, and Julia Sainz (Hispanic Studies); undergraduate students: Joshua Johnson (Horticultural Sciences), Jacob Purcell (Horticultural Sciences), and Yvonne Reyes (Hispanic Studies).

Classes (CC-BY SA)

The Stories

In this course, students explore agricultural workers’ experiences through in-depth critical discourse analysis of fictional accounts written in English by Hispanic writers in Texas who have recorded their own and others’ experiences in the fields. Through their analysis, students discover how rural workers have defined those experiences and the impact that agriculture has had on them.

The land

A beginning Spanish for Agriculture language development class aimed at providing students with essential grammatical structures, linguistic functions, and vocabulary in the field of agriculture (basic plant anatomy, cultural practices, soil and crops, weather phenomena, hydrology, etc.) needed to communicate with Spanish-speaking workers.

The People

This class introduces students to the history of the Hispanic presence in Texas and its main cultural characteristics. The course also presents sociodemographic data, both historical and contemporary.

The Food

In this class, students have the opportunity to explore an issue related to agricultural sciences in which Hispanic workers play a major role: the food industry. The course focuses on the role played by Hispanics in food production, preparation, and consumption in Texas.

More on the Hispanic Experience in Texas

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Thank you for your help!

If you are involved in areas related to agriculture in Texas and want to be part of this project, please enter your information visiting this Web address: http://bit.ly/HeartTexasHelp. We will acknowledge all help received. Thank you! ¡Gracias!

Created By
Gabriela C. Zapata


Photo #1: Elgin tx post office mural. By Larry D. Moore, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Photo #2: By Fabrice Florin, licensed under CC-BY SA 2.0. Photo #3: Public domain Photo #4: Public domain Poster photo: By Bill Wittliff, 1971. Used with permission of Humanities Texas. This page was designed and created by Dr. Gabriela C. Zapata, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University. This site and the instructional materials linked to it are licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. However, other resources linked or embedded in it might be copyrighted, and, if so, they should be used in accordance to the authors' stipulations.