Red and yellow peppers on a green bush with lots of other green leaves surrounding it.

Oral History: Rufina Medina Lopez

Rufina Medina Lopez Introduction

Born in Puebla, in the 1960’s, Rufina Medina Lopez lost her father when very young. Her mother struggled to support her ten children through agriculture and food work. Working the fields as a child, Rufina remembers planting and eating native alaches, chipiles, and quintoniles, which helped heal her chronic anemia. Eventually coming to the Bronx with her family in 1986, Rufina married, but soon found herself with an abusive, alcoholic husband who isolated her from family and community. In 1996, while walking through her Bronx neighborhood, she discovered Garden of Youth – where residents grow organic fruits and vegetables, connect with nature, and build community. Rufina says the event “gave her life” – she escaped her relationship and now finds purpose growing and preparing her traditional Mexican foods, sharing with those who gather to chat, celebrate, and eat. And as her mother taught her, she never turns away anyone who is hungry.

Interview Date: September 4, 2021

Profession: Gardener and Food Vendor

Birthplace: Puebla, Mexico

Head shot of Rufina Medina

Rufina Medina Lopez

Full Length Video