It's Staten Island soil, but the crops it harvests don't taste that way. That's because one Mexican man is growing spices and vegetables you would only find in Oaxaca, much to the delight of a Mexican population that's growing by leaps and bounds. NY1's Amanda Farinacci has the story.
There are nearly 3,000 miles between Oaxaca, Mexico, and Staten Island, but for Agustin Juarez, working the land on this two-acre site at Decker Farms is no different than the small farming town he grew up in.
"Papalo, pipicha, cilantro, clapanche, epasote, yerbasanta, many kinds of peppers," he said.
A farmer since he was a boy back in Mexico, Juarez settled in Staten Island's Port Richmond section 25 years ago.
The neighborhood is home to the borough's largest concentration of Mexican immigrants, a population that totals about 6,500.
Thanks to a city program that helped him build a farm business here 12 years ago, Juarez grows the spices and vegetables native to Oaxaca.
"I know what we use and what we eat, and I start grow over here," he said.
In his first year, Juarez produced just 500 pounds of food.
Now, by harvesting his land three times in the five-month growing season, he's able to produce more than 20,000 pounds of vegetables and spices.
He sells his crops every Saturday at the St. George Green Market.
One woman was stocking up on tomatillos, a staple of Mexican cooking.
"Salsa, mole verde y tacos," she said.
Many Mexican customers say Juarez's stand at the Green Market is the only place they shop when it's open because it's so difficult to find the homegrown items he sells.
Still, other customers say they come because they're trying to add a little diversity to their menus.
"I try different things from them. They tell me how to cook it," said one woman.
Grow NYC, a city program aimed at providing access to fresh, healthy food, operates the Green Market.
Juarez' stand, Staten Island Family Farm, is manned by his large extended family.
It is here, he says, working with his family and with the food he so loves that he feels the most at home.
"I feel like I am in my town, because in my house, all the time, we eat products from here. We feel good," he said.