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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Argentina Ortega

La Sabrosita Bakery

At the age of 19, Argentina Ortega left Sensuntepeque, El Salvador, and moved to the United States for a better life. Shuttling back and forth between El Salvador, Southern California, and Houston, she took baking classes and began earning a living working in a bakery. On the side, she sewed handmade draperies. In 2005, Argentina settled in Richmond to be with her three sons: Mario, Eduardo, and Jorge Dawson. With a small business loan, she purchased La Sabrosita Bakery, a tiny space on Holy Street. At the time, the bakery had a poor reputation with only a handful of clients. Working day and night, she turned the business around, making the deliveries herself in her little car, driving hours beyond Richmond to Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Norfolk, and the Eastern Shore. Gradually, she built an incredible reputation and customer base. In 2009, her sons’ construction business slowed to a halt, so the four became partners and opened in a larger space on Midlothian Turnpike, where the business sits today. Her customers hail from all corners of the world, and hundreds of deliveries are made each week, stretching beyond Virginia into Washington, Maryland, and North Carolina. Argentina no longer makes deliveries herself; a small fleet of semi-trucks makes them for her.

Date of interview:
2012-12-10 16:50

Sara Wood

Sara Wood

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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