Crazy Chile Farm to be featured on PBS

On Tuesday, October 4th, a PBS film crew visited the Crazy Chile Farm and the Church of the Transfiguration in Mesa. The purpose of this visit was to film a segment involving the farm and its volunteers. PBS is in the process of creating a thirteen-part series, to air nationally in 2023, that will give an “in-depth” view of the restoration of Native American food and agriculture. The Crazy Chile Farm was selected for its work with Yoeme blue maize and distribution of seeds to tribal communities in four southwestern states.

Bill Robinson, Director of the Crazy Chile Farm, and Rev. Canon Debbie Royals, Canon for Native American Ministry were both interviewed for this segment. Rev. Canon Royals is a Yoeme (Pascua Yaqui) tribal member and Episcopal Priest who leads the Diocesan Council for Native American Ministry and the newly formed Calling the Circle of the Four Winds Ministry. Transfiguration volunteer staff were also filmed working in the fields, alongside volunteers from Native Health (Dineh and Hopi), who packaged 200 bags of blue cornmeal for distribution to urban tribal families.

The host of the PBS series Capri Cafone is also the host of America the Bountiful, a food, and travel show that focuses on the regional food traditions of America’s heartland. She is also the Executive in Residence at the School of Public Affairs at American University, Washington, D.C., and a long-time “feature host” for PBS.

During filming, Bill Robinson discussed with Capri the importance of harvesting Yoeme blue maize as well as other tribal crops that have been lost due to colonization in the American southwest. Some of the crops they have produced have brought back native seeds from the edge of extinction. Now, these ancient indigenous crops can be rematriated to native farms and communities. Working with partners such as Native Seeds/SEARCH, in Tucson and Havasupai Farmers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the Crazy Chile Farm is working toward decolonization, one maize, and chile at a time.

Rev. Canon Debbie Royals also interviewed Capri as they prepared a traditional Yoeme blue corn flour cake in the Church of the Transfiguration Fellowship Hall’s kitchen. Rev. Royals explained that preparing food in the Yoeme culture doesn’t require measuring, and most of the “recipes” are not written down. Rev. Royals has spent years working on her grandmother’s recipe for blue corn cakes, just using her memory of the taste when she was young. Rev. Royals emphasized that by bringing these crops back to Native people, then the traditions and culture can flourish again.

The Crazy Chile Farm will be a 30-minute segment of a 13-part series on different aspects of traditional Native American food. It is expected to air next September and we will be informed of the actual schedule once it is finalized.

4 comments on “Crazy Chile Farm to be featured on PBS”

  1. Bill Robinson and his volunteers pour their heart and soul into the Crazy Chile Farm. Thanks to the Bishop for recognizing God’s work being done at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Mesa.

  2. As a former Rector of Church of the Transfiguration, I am simply blown away with the success of the Crazy Chile Farm. Simply love the story.

  3. Please give us Ia heads-up when this will air in 2023. As a former member of Transfiguration, I know Bill and have bought many good tasting yummies from the Farm.
    I am pleased to hear that PBS is featuring their work. Bill and his wife have long run collecting pennies, nickels and dimes for their feeding others who need help with food. They are people who truly follow Christ is so many, many wonderful ways. I wish we did something like that at Trinity.

  4. Talked with Ken Sobiech. Lives with his daughter in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin.Enclosing his address if someone would like to contact him. He still watches our church services.
    Ken Sobiech 432 Polczinski Circle, Oconto Falls, WI. 84154