Mexico's indigenous Tarahumara live in the deepest canyon on the continent, growing traditional varieties of corn and beans. Tarahumara make their own clothes and sandals, which consist of used tire tread wrapped to their feet with leather straps. Through rugged canyon trails and thorny sagebrush, the Tarahumara travel virtually barefoot, the soles of their feet thick with calluses. Despite their primitive footwear, they are widely regarded as some of the greatest endurance athletes. Tarahumara runners wearing tire-tread sandals have defeated the world’s most highly trained ultramarathoners.
Running is integral to their daily lives. Women trek dozens of miles daily gathering firewood and food—often with infants strapped to their backs. Three-year-old children run barefoot through the canyons herding goats. For centuries, the Tarahumara have run deeper into their canyons, enabling them to escape the influences of conquistadors, missionaries, and militias and continue living traditionally.
However, in the past few decades, roads have penetrated deeper into the canyons, drug mafias have murdered Tarahumara leaders, drought has decimated crops, and timber companies are illegally seizing and logging their ancestral lands.
Barefoot Farm assists the Tarahumara's efforts to protect their ancestral lands and traditional farming culture by providing seeds, tools, and support. We have spent many years with the Tarahumara, modeling our own farm after their practices. We have also built relationships with the people, enabling us to provide direct assistance to Tarahumara farmers and communities.
We also provide a cultural exchange and work program for Tarahumara. Leaders from Tarahumara communities travel to Barefoot Farm each summer to raise money and awareness for their villages in the Copper Canyons.