I have been traveling in Mexico for the past month in order to practice Spanish, in addition to learning more about chile. Something I have found while here is that agave is used as a decoration everywhere, especially in the state of Jalisco. In the median for roads, on the side of the road, in parks, and everywhere else you can think of, agave are planted by the local government.
These agave are not for harvest, but simply for decoration. That being said, it does a great job for branding. One can’t visit there without thinking about tequila.
In New Mexico, we have lots of ristras, chile pods, and chile roasters all around during chile season. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have ever seen a chile plant growing in a public space in Albuquerque. I don’t understand why something so important in our local culture doesn’t receive more attention from local governments. Chile is not very hard to grow, in fact I have grown it in several different countries with different climates. We already have parks with grass and other plants, so it shouldn’t be terribly hard to include chile in this as well.
Naturally, I think that more mild varieties should be used, as children may eat the fruit of the plant if it is easily accessible. Still, the possible benefits to our community can be vast. It provides people a chance to see what kind of plant grows their favorite food. Many people don’t know much about chile, and can learn simply by seeing it. Additionally, chile plants will certainly be something tourists take pictures of. After all, chile is famous, and everyone who travels here knows that. If we provide more opportunities for people to show different aspects of our chile culture, more people will see and be interested in it.
New Mexico already has certain promotional sites such as New Mexico True, but having more visible chile plants will inspire more organic promotion of New Mexico and its chile tradition. Chile here is a real tangible aspect of society that we can show in its full form.
I believe that chile is one of the things that really unifies New Mexicans. If you are from here, whether you like Trump or Biden, or dislike both, you probably like chile. As long as you think New Mexican chile is superior to Colorado chile, we can all be friends. This aspect of our culture is one worth celebrating. It is one worth spreading. So now I ask, why don’t we grow more chile plants for decorative purposes?
When we open back up again this year, I will be sure to have some plants on hand in case anyone is curious how chile looks when it is growing. It is really quite enchanting watching the green chile turning to red.