Olla Use for Home Gardening

Image from: permacultureideas.blogspot.com

Image from: permacultureideas.blogspot.com

Olla is a latin word meaning earthenware jar. Its first use in writing is in a medieval collection of ideas from 1535 called De Proprietibus Rerum:

“A crocke hyghte Olla, for water boylethe therin whan fyre is there vnder, and vapour passeth vpward, and the boll that ryseth on the water, and durethe by substaunce of the wynde and ayre, hyghte Bulla.”

Before and simultaneous with use of metal, earthenware has been a primary material for the containment and preparation of food across the world. The right combination of clay and water, then fire, can create one of the harder substances on earth that doesn’t degrade, and that transfers heat without burning. According to Marguerita Abreu, its qualities are in these ways as incredible as advanced, modern day materials (ceramic has, for example, greater resistance to abrasion than steel) and yet its making is so simple that humans have done so for 10,000 years (concerning pottery, whereas ceramic figurines were being made 25,000 years ago). Simple ceramic vessels have been used as tools for agriculture since the beginning of its practice, arising also roughly 10,000 years ago.

A Sri Lankan man fills an olla used to water a tree. Image from: permaculturenews.org

A Sri Lankan man fills an olla used to water a tree. Image from: permaculturenews.org

Gardeners around the world, like John Dromgoole of Texas, use ollas to efficiently bring water to plants and reduce the frequency of watering. A particular benefit mentioned by many is that because the olla is buried in the soil, water is introduced deep initially rather than having to seep down from the top, where it is easily caught by roots closer to the surface. This tends to encourage deeper root growth and therefore more plant strength as well as general above ground growth. And compared to hand watering, an olla can be filled just once or twice a week, dispersing water in the interim.  Further, if an olla is used and handled carefully and put away during freezes it can last hundreds of years.

Ollas in rows at Growing Awareness Urban Farm in Albuquerque, NM. Photo from: permaculturenews.org

Ollas in rows at Growing Awareness Urban Farm in Albuquerque, NM. Image from: permaculturenews.org

An example of an interesting variation comes from permaculturist Tom Bowes in Michigan. He connects a rain catchment system with his ollas so they’re filled by water runoff. In this way plants are watered by rainfall and for days afterward.

Another possible idea could be to mix a drip-tape system with an olla system, with tape providing for row crops and large ollas for perennial trees or bushes. Invariably you can create any kind of system you’d like.

If you’re interested in implementing an olla type watering system in Albuquerque you can purchase pre-made vessels from Growing Awareness Urban Farm. Growing Awareness Urban Farm runs a mini-farm in the city, at the East Central Ministries Church, and makes their own ollas for sale as well as sells seeds and produce at markets.

Another popular, resourceful, and probably cheaper method is to seal two machined terracotta pots together, plugging the bottom drain-hole, and filling from the top hole with a funnel.

Image fom: globalbuckets.org

Image fom: globalbuckets.org

Lastly, you can make ollas yourself! To do this you’ll need full access to a ceramics facility and be able to throw simple vessels on the wheel or else build them as a sculpture.

Good luck! Feel free to contact me with any questions at tyryder@unm.edu. In my process to throw my own ollas and use them in my garden I might be able to offer some pointers. The above-mentioned Albuquerque producers are also excellent resources for information.

-Posted by Tyson

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Red or Green?

A guide to enjoying New Mexico’s chile year-round

New Mexico’s official state question is “Red or Green?” Red and green chile are the cornerstones of New Mexican cuisine. Chile has a rich history in the Land of Enchantment, but few know of the origins of the chile they enjoy today. Chile made its way from the Caribbean to Spain with Columbus and into the New World with Don Juan de Onate. Over time, through careful selection and hybridization, it became the chile we know and love today.

According to the New Mexico Chile Association, New Mexico’s chile industry is in a steep decline because of foreign competition. To reverse this trend, New Mexicans can support their local culinary traditions and economy by buying chile locally. Taking this sustainable approach ensures that chile is grown under stricter domestic regulations and travels a shorter distance from the field to the plate. Promotions such as “Get Your Fix”  are helping to market New Mexico chile.

There are a number of local chile sources available to New Mexicans. Chile can be grown in backyard gardens, found at farmer’s markets, and can be ordered directly from a number of farms.  New Mexico’s chile farms range in size and use various farming practices; some are small organic farms and some are larger scale conventional farms.

A few local growers:

The early fall months in New Mexico are redolent with the smell of freshly roasted green chile. August usually marks the beginning of the green chile harvesting season. Some green chiles are left on the plant to ripen into red chiles, which are usually harvested from mid-September until the first frost. This harvest period captures the bounty of the season. Providing a local chile supply to New Mexico’s chile-obsessed population year-round is a challenge that can be met by drying, freezing, or canning chile.

Preserving Green Chile
After they are harvested, green chiles are roasted in order to remove their tough outer skin. They can be roasted in an oven, range top, outdoor grill, or most often in a special roaster. Chiles should be roasted until the skin is blackened and blistered. The chiles are then peeled, and seeds and stems removed for freezing. Leaving a few seeds in the chile can add more “heat,” or spiciness to the chile. Wearing latex gloves during this process is recommended.

Green chile can be frozen whole or chopped, depending on how the chile will be used. Chopped chiles can easily be made into green chile sauce which is often used to “smother” a number of traditional New Mexican dishes. Using quality freezer bags or containers and eliminating as much air as possible adds to the longevity of frozen chile, which can be used for a year or more.  Always label frozen chile with the date it was frozen. It is important to heat the frozen chile to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before eating it to destroy any harmful germs which can be found in prepared frozen foods.

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Preserving Red Chile
Red chile is dried instead of roasted, as the skin of red chiles does not need to be removed.  The chiles must be placed in full sun with good air ventilation to dry, but they can also be dried in an oven or food dehydrator.  A common method of drying New Mexico red chiles is on a ristra.

Crushing dried red chiles in a food processor, blender, or spice mill is a good way to make a powder that can be used as a seasoning or incorporated into a sauce. Remember to remove the stems and seeds from dried chiles before processing them. If made correctly chile powder does not spoil, but it will lose potency over time. Keeping chile powder in the freezer can extend its longevity.

Dried chiles can also be reconstituted and incorporated into a sauce which can be frozen or canned. Red chile sauce can stain clothing and kitchen surfaces and appliances, so handle the sauce carefully.

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Canning Red and Green Chile
Both green and red chile sauces can be preserved by pressure canning. This helpful video can get you started. An alternative to canning your own chile is to buy canned chile from local producers such as Tio Frank’s.

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Whether it’s red or green, keeping New Mexico’s chile tradition local will lead to a more sustainable practice, and support the local economy. However you prefer to get your “chile fix,” preserving chile for year-round use captures the bounty of the chile season.

-Posted by Tammira

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The Importance of a Seed

I never fully comprehended the risks and dangers that farmers went through until I watched the documentary Food, Inc. I can remember the image of a humble older man (Maurice Parr) being interrogated by Monsanto in regard to seed patents. Watching this distraught seed cleaner having his livelihood become threatened made me choked up inside, and it chokes me up to this day.

Observing territorial struggles over seeds seemed disturbing and unfathomable. Maurice Parr represents the farming community, as many have faced issues concerning seed patents. When I think of farmers faced with similar circumstances, I think of the man I saw in the film. I think about the security of livelihoods that have been threatened and years of hard work sabotaged. In the age GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and food insecurity, seed sovereignty is strongly sought after by many farmers and growers. To a consumer, a seed can be an annoyance, but to a farmer–a seed is a right.

Local Artists: Mike 360, Release, and Vela. Photo by Anna

Local Artists: Mike 360, Release, and Vela. Photo by Anna

Reasons for Attaining Seed Sovereignty
Farmers and individuals consider seed sovereignty important for the following reasons: To protect seeds from environmental degradation and harmful agricultural practices, to ensure food security and diversity, and to uphold a rich culture of farming traditions that includes protecting native and heirloom varieties. Seed varieties can be endangered by monoculture, climate change, war, catastrophe, and governmental regulations. One primary concern in many seed sovereignty organizations is the pervasiveness of GMOs in the food chain. When a GMO seed inadvertently cross contaminates a farmer’s field by wind or bee pollination, it puts that farmer at risk for lawsuit. According the University of Chicago, seed sovereignty is being threatened with the advent of GMOs. The GMO seed patents are considered by some to be intellectual property.

The Importance of Pollination for Seeds and our Food Source
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a toxic, spore-forming bacterium used in some farms to kill herbivores like Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth larvae). Although this bacteria is used to kill off specific pests, it can also be toxic to beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.   Karen W. Wright, UNM PhD candidate in Insect Evolution, states that “A GMO is something that cannot be contained. Once a living organism is released into the environment, it cannot be controlled.” GMOs affect plants such as heirloom corn grown in Mexico. In addition, Karen states that there are only two bee genera (Peponapis) that offer top pollination for the squash family (Cucurbitaceae). Farmers sometimes need to hire hand-pollinators if fields are not property pollinated or to protect certain crop varieties from being cross-pollinated by nearby fields. The use of Bt on farms is an environmental paradox because killing off larvae means killing off some of earth’s most beneficial pollinator insects—bees and butterflies.

Image from Science Kids

Image from Science Kids

Make Way for Monarchs is a progressive organization that advocates for milkweed and monarch restoration in 31 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program.

The implementation of GMO seeds may have initially been well-intended to alleviate hunger or to increase farm yields. Unfortunately, Bt technology and other GMOs have posed dangers to farmers’ livelihoods, contributed to environmental degradation, provided poor food quality, and has affected people’s health around the world.

Seed Savers and Farmers Unite

Image from CIP Americas

Image from CIP Americas

Protecting the Heritage of New Mexico Native Heirloom
The New Mexico Acequia Association has a beautiful mission. Their mission is to protect native seeds, such as traditional chile, crops, and animals while reviving the culture around aceqiuas in New Mexico. One of their primary purposes is to protect native seeds against Genetic Engineering. In March of 2006, a Seed Sovereignty Declaration was signed.The declaration was drafted by the members of the Traditional Native American Farmers Association and NMAA. These two organizations form the core of the New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance.

Save New Mexico Seeds is a helpful website that exists advocating to protect New Mexico’s native chile seeds against genetic modification and stands to protect the rights of farmers in our land. See what you can do to join locals in upholding a rich cultural heritage-the New Mexico Red and Green.

UltimateChile_7001

Seed Sovereignty Advocacy and Conservation
Communities are coming together on a local, national, and global level to take a stand for seed sovereignty. They are realizing that seed sovereignty plays a vital role in food security. A stronger connection to the land and stronger sense of food security can be done through seed sharing and conservation.

Local Advocates and Seed Banks

National and Global Organizations

Seed to Plate – How to ensure your own food security through seed sovereignty and what you can do to make a difference

Non-GMO Project Seal

  • Purchase packaged products labeled with Non-GMO Project verified seals.
  • Save your seeds after consuming authentically-grown, organic produce.
  • Plant your own small garden using the seeds you saved or heirloom, non-GMO seeds from other sources.
  • Support local farms using organic or sustainable agriculture.
  • Sign a pledge, join an association or contact your local legislators.

Bounty beyond belief

So now we know how important seed sovereignty is for us and what damage a GMO can do to the environment. When you eat something, remember–it all boils down to a tiny little seed. Seed sovereignty is a critical link for maintaining food security. Protecting our seeds means protecting life.

-Posted by Anna

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Grow Big or Grow Small

Many UNM students who live in the city live in apartments, townhouses, or small homes that do not offer a lot of yard space for gardening. But even for those lucky enough to live in a place with a large enough yard to garden in, obstacles may come up that are usually associated with poor soil quality. For those wanting to do some urban gardening in the Albuquerque Metro area, I offer some advice. victory garden

But why garden in the first place? The most prominent reason is, of course, safe and healthy food. The average American is becoming more cautious of what they consume. Food-borne illnesses and contamination and the additional additives and preservatives in our everyday foods is a growing problem in the states. The easy solution is to grow your own food so that you know that your friends and family are eating fresh and safe. During World Wars I and II the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany all had campaigns in their home countries encouraging their citizens to grow their own vegetables and fruits in ‘Victory Gardens,’ in order to alleviate the problem of food shortages.

There are many other reasons why one should start a garden. For instance, gardening activities offer both cardio and aerobic exercise. It can add beauty to any space and could also encourage artistic creativity. Finally, gardens can be very therapeutic. As a full time student who works full time as well, I get very little true relaxation time. Gardens provide a necessary retreat and escape from the demands of everyday life. The beauty of thriving plants instantly makes me feel better and everyday maintenance of the garden (such as pulling weeds or even just quietly watering) relieves stress. Eating the beautiful and healthy vegetables you just grew not only helps with your physical health, but also gives you a sense of achievement and success.

Now, how to go about with your garden? First of all, I am a big believer in vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is a term used for worm bin composting. I am a proponent of worm bin composting because:

  1. You can scale it to any size, whether it be a fully functional urban food forest or a small garden. You may have a few vegetable plants outside planted in poor soil or a few indoor potted plants that just need a little kick. Worm bin composting can be scaled down or up to suit your needs in replenishing or adding nutrients to soil.
  2. It’s low maintenance. The more common composting methods require a little bit more space and maintenance. A vermicomposting bin can be located in a small area, even in a shelf, in a garage or closet. Not only that, but the primary upkeep involves feeding the worms any vegetable or fruit scraps – they do the rest!

Here is a simple online guide to vermicomposting, but I recommend reading, “Worms Eat My Garbage,” by Mary Applehof, for more in-depth information about worm bin composting.

Secondly, go organic. With small scale gardening, I personally believe that there is absolutely no reason not to go completely organic. This means no chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or herbicides. You’ll have to keep a vigilant eye on your garden though. Also, experimentation is a huge part of organic gardening. Sometimes plants get a greater yield with more or less sun so you might have to move them around. You might want to start companion planting with the Three Sisters, which does well in New Mexico. Embrace experimentation and play around before you resort to a nuclear deterrent such as chemical pesticides.

And finally, grow what you will eat. It is much more motivating and satisfying eating something you’ll enjoy, that you also grew yourself. If you like eating salads, grow greens. If you really enjoy fresh herbs, plant some cilantro or parsley. If you start growing something you won’t even enjoy eating, you just spent a season growing compost material!

Now, how to grow a garden in a small space? Container gardening and vertical gardening is the answer for small space gardening.

 

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-Posted by Billy

 

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Seasonal Super Foods!

Spinacia oleracea

Spinach is hands-down my favorite vegetable. I love using spinach in everything from soups to salads, sandwiches and stir fries.  Spinach is a staple vegetable in my kitchen and I figured it’s time that take a closer look at where it comes from.  It turns out that about 90% of U.S. spinach is grown in Arizona and California.

Being a sustainability minor I try to incorporate as many sustainable practices into my life as I can, so naturally, I want to learn how to use spinach in a sustainable manner.  One component regarding sustainable food is getting food from your local foodshed.  Albuquerque’s foodshed is defined as food that comes from within a 300-mile radius.  A community that supports their local foodshed benefits from fresher produce, knowing where their food comes from, and investing in their local economy.

Eat Local
We can support Albuquerque’s local foodshed by using our dollars as our vote.  Every dollar that we spend is our vote on where we want food to come from.  I support the local growers’ markets here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe as well as La Montanita Coop. I try to incorporate as many local foods in my diet as possible, but I feel like I can do more.

Eating seasonally is my next big challenge.  With today’s technology people can grow pretty much anything anytime of year and ship it anywhere in the world.  This is convenient and has allowed us to enjoy any food any time we want regardless of the season, however, the resources that go into this process are far from sustainable. Eating produce within our foodshed that is in season reduces the stress on resources used to grow foods that are not in season.  This is an overall more holistic and sustainable way to support our foodshed and the health of the environment.

Image credit: Dreaming New Mexico

Image credit: Dreaming New Mexico

The History of Spinach 
Spinach originated in the Middle Eastern region of AnatoliaThe green made its way through Nepal, China and into the Mediterranean. Spinach was first introduced to Europe in the 15th century and was grown in the United States before the 19th century.  The Latin name, Spinacia oleracea means prickly seed (spinacia) and edible plant (oleracea).

Why Is Spinach so Awesome?
Spinach is packed with nutrients.  Spinach is high in vitamins A, C, thiamin, folic acid, potassium, iron, lutein, zeaxanthin, carotenoids, and glycoclycerolipids. Spinach has been found to help fight cancers, inflammation and is rich in antioxidants.

The following is a list some of the nutritional benefits found in spinach:

Image credit: World's Healthiest Foods

Image credit: World’s Healthiest Foods

  • Vitamins A and C
    -Cardiovascular health
  • Thiamin
    -Nervous system health
  • Folic Acid
    -DNA synthesis, cellular reproduction, fights depression
  • Potassium
    -Bone health, heart health
  • Lutein
    -Good for your eyes
  • Zeaxanthin
    -Good for your eyes
  • Carotenoids
    -Immune system health
  • Gycoclycerolipids
    -Decreases inflammation

Growing Spinach
Spinach is a cool weather crop, making it a perfect late winter/early spring or summer/early fall crop. Spinach has a potential growing season from February through November.

Please check out The National Garden Bureau for a more in-depth guide on how to grow and harvest spinach.

Where to Buy Local Spinach
If you do not have a garden or space to grow greens, you can support our local economy and foodshed by shopping from local distributers and retailers.  Local spinach can be found at the La Montanita Coop or many of New Mexico’s local growers markets.

Spinach Recipe
Here is one of my favorite soups that has spinach as one of the main ingredients.

Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas with Lemon

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons oil or ghee
1 small yellow onion
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger, from a 3-inch piece
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 pound baby spinach
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Cooking instructions:

  1. Heat oil/ghee in large pot, add onion and cook until brown. Add sun dried tomatoes, fresh ginger, lemon zest, red pepper and garlic. Cook for 3 more minutes.
  2. Add chickpeas and cook until brown.
  3. Stir in spinach a little bit at a time.
  4. Add coconut milk, salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice.
  5. Bring to a simmer then turn down heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Season to taste and enjoy!
Image credit: Jaymi Heimbuch

Image credit: Jaymi Heimbuch

Here is a link to 30 more awesome spinach recipes. Happy Eating!

-Posted by Taylor

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Strengthening Our FoodCorps

“And what do plants eat?’
-“Carrots!”
-“Mud!”

The kindergarteners through second graders at Kirtland Elementary in Albuquerque, NM were perhaps a little confused about how to answer this particular question. Nonetheless, they were all quite excited to be transplanting their grasses, after singing the Growing Song of course, which had been renamed by the students to include names such as “Grassy the Grass,” “Angelique,” and “Soaring Eagle.”

These students are a part of the after school program that FoodCorps member Tyler Wilson manages. Tyler works with students, from kindergarten through sixth grade during the school day, teaching them about climate change, seasonal planting, permaculture and other sustainable and agriculture focused curriculum. The after-school Gardening Club extends the work Tyler is doing in the classroom, and allows kids the opportunity to work in the school’s garden.

Kirtland Elementary School Garden. Photo by author

Kirtland Elementary School Garden. Photo by author

FoodCorps, a branch of AmeriCorps, focuses on connecting young students with healthy agricultural practices. They’ve had an incredibly successful impact nationally and we are lucky in New Mexico to be one of fifteen states that hosts a FoodCorps initiative. With 1 in 3 children experiencing hunger throughout the state, NM is a perfect candidate for this kind of program.

UNM students' artwork decorates the garden. Photo by author

UNM students’ artwork decorates the garden. Photo by author

FoodCorps’ main goal is to integrate the importance of health and sustainable agriculture with education in the young minds of students. Depending on the school and the FoodCorps member in charge, the curriculum can vary from permaculture to watershed management to implementing a seed library for the students. Tyler got his degree in Biology, and therefore uses his area of expertise to help him create his lesson plans. His students have learned how to map areas with different climates and now that the planting season is in full swing, the kids are learning about native and non-native plants and how to care for them in the garden. Tyler is particularly excited about the garlic that is growing. The garlic scapes (flowers) can be harvested by pulling them straight off the top of the plant, and what child doesn’t love pulling really, really hard?

Tyler has built up rock walls to sustainably maintain the garden. Photo by author

Tyler has built up rock walls to sustainably maintain the garden. Photo by author

Being a FoodCorps service member is not a job to be taken lightly. The organization looks for those who are passionate about educating our future generations about health, and who will be committed to working hard with large numbers of easily distracted young kids. Creativity and perseverance are musts, and recently, the NM FoodCorps branch is hoping to hire more local members, i.e. people who’ve lived or grown up in New Mexico.

Currently, the only native New Mexican FoodCorps member works in Santo Domingo Pueblo, where he grew up. Tyler is originally from Oregon and he points out the difficulties and advantages of having outsiders come into the system. “Having people from different states coming in is wonderful if they have the knowledge and qualifications, which many of them do. But then they leave, they move on, and a lot of that knowledge goes with them.”

The garden coming alive! Photo by author

The garden coming alive! Photo by author

Tyler believes that a place-based education is essential, not only for people looking to work with FoodCorps, but for all schools and all ages. “When you apply for the National application, they look for people who’ve submitted a ‘good’ application; people who are either just out of college or close to finishing, people who are good at writing because that is always helpful in any application process, and people who’ve maybe had some hands on experience. But, those qualifications don’t always match up with the people who have all of the local knowledge, the people who have grown up working with the climate and soil and weather and really know the land. So it can be good and bad.” Integrating culture into the system is vital for educating youngsters about healthy food and lifestyles.  “These kids are smart,” says Tyler. “They have the intelligence, they just need to get their hands dirty.”

A compost supports the sustainable practices used in the garden. Photo by author

A compost supports the sustainable practices used in the garden. Photo by author

Each year, the state demands more English and more Math. Tyler’s solution: use the garden as a resource. Nature has endless lessons to plant in young minds and with student and teacher support, the garden can flourish. As a FoodCorps member, Tyler feels welcomed and supported by the faculty and students. “The kids all say hi and seem excited to see me,” he grins. It is those connections that validate the FoodCorps mission. Connecting the community to healthy food and to each other are the goals the program strives for.

Tyler Wilson, FoodCorps Service member. Photo by author

Tyler Wilson, FoodCorps Service member. Photo by author

-Posted by Olivia

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A Life in the Day of a Farmer

Human beings share experience with one another; it is an essential psychological process that allows us as a people to continue our evolution in the world. In these uncertain times, humans must reconnect across the divide that an industrialized global economy is creating. We have in a sense already begun to notice this reactionary movement that has gained momentum by promoting a sustainable, organic food system. This movement has enabled the farmer and his crop to reconnect into his local food web, and with the local consumer of his food.

We, as the consumer of this local food, gain vital knowledge by understanding that food is not created in the supermarket but in the soil, and thus a land ethic in sustainability is formulated. We profit when a sustainable agricultural practice is used to ensure food for not only our generation but also for our kids and grandkids. We have to be involved though; we must be active in our pursuit of this vision because it has been proven time and time again that our elected representatives are unable to do so.

Stuart Findley is one of these visionaries, and I met him on a Saturday in spring to discuss his attitudes on life, the Corrales Growers’ Market community, and of course his beautiful, organic farm located in the Northern Bosque in Corrales, NM. Stew is a grizzled veteran of the sustainable farming movement in Corrales, and some might say it runs in his blood. After taking a 30 year hiatus to fly C-147s internationally from Bangkok to Afghanistan, Stuart decided to reclaim his yard from the weeds and rejoin the Corrales Growers’ Market to partake in the budding organic food movement here in the Southwest.

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Luckily for Findley and other Corrales farmers, the zoning of Corrales, which only allows for commercial businesses along the main road, creates the perfect environment for farmers to maintain land for farming in the middle of the urban sprawl of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. Because of this, the Corrales Growers’ Market that Stuart sells his goods at is one of the larger farmer markets in the region and attracts a variety of vendors and customers. In the 2013 summer and autumn season, there were over 60 vendors that would show up at the Sunday markets.

Findley Farms was fully ready for the Spring 2014 season and was a bonanza of peas, beans, asparagus, oregano, tomatoes, carrots, rhubarb and other delicious vegetables, each in a different stage of growth or planting, some still even in their starting sets.  The design of the landscape was kept simple. The soil had been freshly turned with cow manure and was rich with nitrogen when I arrived. Alongside this garden was located a small orchard with a variety of apples, apricots, and pears.

I interviewed Stuart hoping to find out more about why he is so interested in being a part of the sustainable movement here in Corrales. Stuart himself is an odd mix of the old cowboy bravado mixed with a healthy liberal background; he staunchly believes the sustainable farmer is the true hero in America. His answers echo his ideology but he emphasized several points about his personal experiences with sustainable agriculture. Findley feels that the key to a sustainable future in the United States lays in citizen knowledge of the dangers that industrial farming practices pose to the environment and our health. A grassroots movement of independent organic farmers is the only way to engage the community and consumer in healthier habits.

Lessons can be learned by reaching out to our community and finding integral people who provide the most vital sustenance to us. We can encourage our local representatives to engage in this healthy dialogue by contacting them by letter or email; you just have to find out who represents you in your district. There are also several different sites that can both increase your knowledge of agricultural issues and also give you the opportunity to volunteer. Change happens when the citizens of the community become involved in the issues that are affecting them.

-Posted by Felipe

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