Horno replastered at Dolores Huerta Gateway Park

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SOUTH VALLEY, N.M. — Albert Parra is a master adobe builder, and he let KOB 4 tag along to help replaster the horno at Dolores Huerta Gateway Park.

If you’re a little rusty on your New Mexico history, an horno is an earthen oven used to cook, and they can be found all over the world. The horno at the park has not been replastered in five years.

Parra said the pandemic delayed it. He said “earth building,” as he calls it, is a family thing, but he’s back to sharing his craft.

“What really gets me going is the sharing and the glee and the pride that it gives people, especially the young ones,” said Parra.

He and his good friend, Joaquin Lujan, started mixing the mud for the project. It’s clay that comes from the acequias that were cleaned out earlier this year.  

“The dirt has the right combination of dirt and sand which is a little greater portion of sand than clay,” said Parra. This ratio keeps it from cracking.

Then they had to add the straw, and that’s all it took for the adobe – mud and straw are a “recipe” used for generations. Once the mud was ready, it was time to get working.

Parra said you can start off moving it with the trowel to spread it around, but then the best way to do it just to get in there and smooth it out with your hands.

The replastering is just in time for the La Familia Growers Market Chile Ristra Festival, where the newly plastered horno will be put to use. The event will feature demonstrations using it, cooking bread, chile and elotes.