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Paul Wright

The Maize Maze isn’t Made of Maize

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In 2018, the Maize Maze is back on, but in spite of it’s wonderful name, our maze won’t be made of maize. This 8-acre labyrinth will be cut into dense fields of sorghum.

Sorghum is an old-world grain that produces a cereal crop. Sorghum is used primarily as animal-feed, but also in the production of beer, ethanol, and a southern specialty: sorghum molasses.

Importantly for the use in a maze, sorghum also grows tall and dense, like a field of corn. In fact, sorghum mazes, and mazes made of other tall grasses, are sprouting all across the world, from Tazmania to Tennessee.

The Rio Grande Valley is getting its own taste of sorghum the last two weekends in October, complete with paletas, food trucks, and educational programming by Explora!, the Audubon Society, the ABQ biopark, and more!
Why sorghum?

“Sorghum uses less water, which is an important resource in the High Plains. Plus, it uses less fertilizer. Therefore, the environmental impact is much less compared with growing corn” says farmer Dale Artho in a 2015 interview with journalist Bill Speigel.

On the Rio Grande Community Farm, water is a precious resource. “A lot of the open space, including some of our land, is on the water bank, which means that, in drought conditions, water becomes increasingly unreliable,” says president Katherine Labate Wright.

Last year the farm was not able to host the Maize Maze, owing to the drought. Since water was scarce, the water bank limited RGCF’s water use.

Additionally, sorghum is a more heat-resistant crop than corn. With high summer temperatures and unreliable water, sorghum is a savvy farm’s way of adapting to the local, New Mexican climate.

Finally, as part of RGCF’s mission to create and encourage wildlife habitat, the sorghum was cut only once to bail, and the regrowth is being left as forage for migratory birds and other wildlife. This means that, while you’re exploring the twists and turns of the Maize Maze, you’re likely to find some feathered visitors feasting in the sorghum fields!

Planting New Roots

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Tres Hermanas Farm began in November 2016, through an Office of Refugee Resettlement Grant received by Lutheran Family Services Albuquerque Office. The program aims to connect refugee families with the land, water, seeds, tools and other resources needed to grow food. Tres Hermanas Farm is housed on three separate properties, the biggest and most productive of which is right here on the Rio Grande Community Farm. There are two other small, urban garden plots located in the International District.

Our partnership with Tres Hermanas has led to collaborations on workshops, cultural exchanges between refugee gardeners and RGCF community gardeners, increased production on RGCF land, a great diversity of produce being grown on a small area, and now, the organization of another year of the Maize Maze!

We couldn’t be more pleased having our friends from Burundi, the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chad growing food for their families and to sell at farmers’ markets, right here on the RIo Grande Community Farm. Join us for the Annual Maize Maze the last two weekends of October and take a tour of Tres Hermanas Farm!

The Maize Maze Presents: Farmstrong Race and Festival!

Join us October 27th 2018 for the Farmstrong Fall Festival and the Farmstrong 10k/5k/fun Run! Sign up now to reserve your spot at the Farmstrong Race; run through the golden fields of the Los Poblanos Open Space, enjoy the crisp fall air, and the beautiful migratory birds that spend the winter in our agricultural fields. After the race, explore the 8-acre Maize Maze and engage with the educational activities offered by Explora, the Bio Park and the Audubon Society. Live music will start at 1pm, and Steel Bender Brewyard will be serving in the beer garden all day long.

Music line up:

Food Trucks:

  • El Paisa Express
  • My Sweet Basil
  • The Supper Truck

Steel Bender Brewyard will be serving beer!

Bluefly Farms will be serving shrubs, sparkling water, and lavender infused treats!

Big Jim’s Farm will have pumpkins for sale!

Chispas Farm will have veggies for sale!

Farm Shark will be selling the finest pickles in town!

 

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