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February 2024 Newsletter

By January 31, 2024News


  • Learn About Our Agrivoltaics Project
  • Unearthing the Educational Value of Farming for Your Child
  • Defining Regenerative Agriculture
  • A Case For Soil Health
  • The Potential of Rio Grande Community Farm
  • Discovering Farm Therapy
  • Seeking Board Committee Members
  • Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships and Advisor Opportunities
  • Winter Class Offerings
  • What to Watch: Food Fighter


Learn About Our Agrivoltaics Project at Agri-Nature Center Presentation

Agrivoltaics is a way of integrating solar energy technology with agriculture to benefit both outcomes. Rio Grande Community Farm is moving forward with our 2024-2025 agrivoltaics research in collaboration with Sandia National Labs, US Department of Energy, University of New Mexico (UNM), Sunsky Solar Solutions, and Circle Two LLC. In 2025, an experimental solar array will be temporarily installed in Field #4 to run our well pump house on renewable energy as it provides a shaded microclimate to protect delicate vegetables from the sun scorch of our heating climate. UNM will collect data on the impacts of this arrangement on the growth of the chosen crops.

If you want to learn more about the technology and take an optional farm tour to our site, you can join us at the Larry P. Abraham Agri-Nature Center on February 2nd for a presentation by Byron Kominek, owner of Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder County, Colorado. Byron also serves as Director of the non-profit Colorado Agrivoltaic Learning Center. He will give a presentation on his work and the technologies involved with time for audience Q&A and a walk to the Rio Grande Community Farm!

Unearthing The Educational Value of Farming For Your Child

By Anya Willis

In an age where technology often overshadows direct interaction with the natural world, guiding children towards agriculture opens a doorway to invaluable experiences. It’s a journey that transcends the mere act of farming, nurturing essential life skills and instilling profound knowledge that shapes their overall development. In this article we’ll look at the extensive benefits of involving young minds in agricultural activities.

Tangible Learning in Nature’s Classroom
Agriculture offers an interactive and tangible learning environment, immensely beneficial for young learners. It allows children to gain firsthand experience with the natural world, understanding the intricacies of plant life cycles and the fundamentals of food production. This living, breathing classroom is a haven for inquisitive minds. Look for a few age-appropriate projects you can start with your child in the garden and tackle them together, creating a bonding experience for your family. You can find helpful resources online that will aid you in choosing plants or finding the right tools for each job.
Fostering Responsibility and a Strong Work Ethic

Agriculture offers a practical setting where responsibility and work ethic transcend mere concepts to become part of daily life. Children, through their involvement in caring for plants or animals, come to realize the significance of their roles in the lives of these dependents, recognizing the necessity of their consistent care and effort. This hands-on experience deeply embeds a sense of duty and commitment in them, thereby laying the foundation for a robust work ethic that shapes their approach to responsibilities in all areas of life.
Encouraging Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Choices

Participating in the cultivation and harvesting of their own fruits and vegetables profoundly impacts children’s dietary choices. Immersion in agricultural activities heightens their preference for fresh, wholesome produce as they gain a firsthand understanding of the labor and care that goes into growing healthy food. This direct involvement in the process of food production not only encourages a healthier lifestyle but also instills a sense of pride and connection to their nourishment.
Collaboration and Teamwork in Farming

In the cooperative realms of farming and gardening, children learn the crucial roles of teamwork and effective communication. As they work in gardens or on farms, they grasp the significance of collaborating with others, dividing responsibilities, and uniting efforts towards shared objectives. These practical experiences not only enhance their social skills but also provide a deep understanding of what makes teamwork successful. If you believe your child is ready to start working the land, consider volunteering with them at Rio Grande Community Farm. This is an excellent way to teach your child the value of hard work while having fun.
A Gateway to STEM Education

Agriculture’s multidisciplinary nature, blending elements of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), offers children a unique, hands-on learning experience. This exposure not only enriches their educational journey but also potentially ignites a lasting interest in STEM fields, opening doors to future innovation and problem-solving opportunities. If your child shows an interest in farming as a future career path, talk to them about the various options they can choose from.
Valuing Hard Work and Persistence

Engaging in the physical labor of agriculture teaches children a practical and valuable lesson about the essence of hard work. They come to understand that both in farming and in life, true success and growth are the results of consistent effort and unwavering dedication. This hands-on experience not only cultivates resilience but also imparts a crucial life lesson that meaningful achievements are often the fruit of prolonged and dedicated labor, shaping their outlook towards future endeavors and challenges.
Life Skills and Personal Growth

Agriculture serves as a rich platform for the cultivation of vital life skills, where children engaged in farming activities not only learn the virtues of patience and perseverance but also experience the fulfillment that comes from achieving their goals. As a result, they are better prepared to confront the complexities of adulthood, armed with confidence and a grounded sense of accomplishment. Talk to your child about setting SMART goals, or goals that are realistic and measurable, as you embark on your farming journey together.

Engaging children in agricultural activities is an investment in their future. It offers a holistic approach to learning, character building, and personal development. This experience not only connects them with the environment but also sows the seeds for a lifetime of healthy habits, responsible living, and a deep appreciation for the natural world.

Want to learn more about the Rio Grande Community Farm? Reach out to the team today and consider volunteering with your child to teach them the wonders of working with the land.

Defining Regenerative Agriculture

Rio Grande Community Farm utilizes many agricultural methods that have been in use for millennia by Indigenous societies, and which have been co-opted into codified and monetized systems including “organic” certification, “permaculture” design, or “agroforestry.” We respectfully acknowledge that any discussion of different methods of ecological food production begins with Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Every subsequent system published by colonists is primarily a retelling of what was already in practice before they arrived. Authors, agencies, and associations continually publish ever-shifting standards, practices, and tenets of what is collectively referred to as “sustainable” agriculture.

The Rodale Institute started using the term ‘regenerative agriculture’ in the early 1980s, and Rodale Publishing started producing books on regenerative agriculture in 1987, forming the Regenerative Agriculture Association.

In 2017, Regeneration International formed a 501(c)3 and with the support of high profile international Steering Committee that includes Vandana Shiva, Ronnie Cummings from Organic Consumer’s Association, and others. Regeneration International released a definition of regenerative agricultural systems as being those which improve the environment, soil, plants, animal welfare, health, and communities.

Using this definition, any methods (whether solely derived from Traditional Ecological Knowledge, academic science, certified organic growing methods, permaculture design practices, or agroforestry), that “improve” the above resources are considered “regenerative.” Any agricultural systems that damage the environment (soil, genes, or communities) or involve animal cruelty, are not classified as regenerative, but “degenerative.”

Rio Grande Community Farm has been growing pesticide-free on Los Poblanos Fields Open Space since 1997 and incorporates practices that qualify as regenerative, including no tillage of the soil, cover cropping, crop rotation, composting, mulching, companion planting, keeping living roots in the soil year-round, protecting biodiversity, and using Integrated Pest Management strategies to work with nature.

We honor all the ways in which this knowledge came to us, continues to expand, and gains in popularity as we strive to serve as a hub for sharing these vital practices.

A Case for Soil Health

by Rich Adeyemi
Head Farmer & Educator
Rio Grande Community Farm

“To help our Earth, we must start with the soil.” ~ Grace Gershuny

That time of the year is here again! The time when we dream of all the wonderful crops we will grow come spring. Many of us are busy poring over seed catalogs that came in the mail, fascinated by the new varieties that have just been added, choosing and ordering and excited about how our farms and gardens would look like and what they will bring forth. But there is something seemingly less exciting that we often overlook and do not dream about – the state of the environment where these seeds will grow.

The soil is our most important resource – the world’s hope for continuous food supply. Unfortunately, the soil is often taken for granted, “treated like dirt,” by the very people whose sustenance directly depends upon it. Each passing minute, the soil is assaulted, suffocated, contaminated, exploited, poisoned, mistreated and depleted.

In the midst of spring and summer, we move from one task to another and usually do not have time for the soil. I’m here to make a case for the soil because late winter is a good time to think about it.

My case for the soil is to encourage us to begin to take proactive steps toward:

1. Eliminating the toxins we add to the soil because they will end up in our bodies thereby increasing the risks of contracting chronic and terminal diseases. Choosing to grow food organically is one way to do this. This choice will inspire us to understand soil biology and ecology – to adopt practices that make us concerned about the future state of our health, that of our children, and of their children after them.

2. Preserving and conserving soil biodiversity. You will probably appreciate the soil more if you scoop a teaspoon of that world and put it under a magnifying lens until it collides with your own world. What you will see may amaze you – snails, mites, millipedes, worms, ants, and living webs of creeping fungus, each with their own niche to add flavor to that world. They remind us of what is going on beneath our feet so that we can be active participants in stewarding their precious lives.

3. Recycling wastes (rather than just dumping them on the soil.) The magnitude of the pollution and contamination of our environment, particularly the soil, can be overwhelming for us. Perhaps we feel powerless to do anything about it. No one is powerless. Begin where you stand – whatever the size of the land you currently occupy. If you don’t know how, I’ll encourage you to join forces with those who are actively working to restore soil health through food waste recycling. Reach out today to get involved! Don’t sit on the fence, begin now, a little at a time.

4. Feeding the soil, not the plant. I hope you read that. Industrial farming practices are tailored towards feeding the plant at the expense of the soil. The conventional agricultural focus is on eradicating and/or eliminating anything termed to be “inhibiting” plant growth and yield because the goal is profit not posterity. You and I already know that this is not sustainable. We must move away from the profit motive and towards building soil health.

Consider what is already happening: extreme rainfall (or no rainfall at all in some cases); unusually strong winds; increased soil erosion; widespread pollution of surface and groundwater; increased soil compaction; loss of soil tilth, and reduced biological activity, to mention only a few of our environmental challenges. Many of these issues have been caused by the failure of our pervading agricultural practices to prioritize soil health.

Here are a few practices we can adopt to improve soil health:

  1. Start a Worm Bin

Irrespective of where you live or the size of your space – house, apartment, condominium, garage – you can turn your kitchen and garden wastes into a high fertility worm castings that can be added to your growing pots and garden soil. Time and space does not allow me to describe this practice in-depth, but you can attend our February 10th Worm Composting and Soil Health workshop where everything worms will be dissected. (RSVP to to attend)

…to be continued

What Exactly Is The Potential of Rio Grande Community Farm

by Bruce Milne
Board President  

Rio Grande Community Farm

Call it coincidence, but twice while hosting illustrious visitors to the farm I’ve heard them say, “This farm has a lot of potential.”  Maybe my craving for a good burrito was distracting me, but I failed to ask: Potential for what, exactly?

So, at our December open house we posed the question to our guests and here is what popped up. Someone wrote, “farmers’ market, women-farming, and Intro Women’s Gardening Group.”

Another suggested we become “a known center of rural ‘feel’ that provides a community that everyone loves.  Plus farms, ag-awareness, fun events!”

Nizar, a new micro-farmer from Palestine wrote, our “potential is to inspire people to connect with the processes that yield the crops we all depend upon ultimately for survival.  Along the way, community cohesion can be fostered and wonderful vegetables consumed.”

An anonymous contributor listed “strawberries, kiwi, blueberries … other stuff!”  Could climate change bring us kiwi?

The most holistic vision came from Geneva: “I believe the Rio Grande Community Farm can evolve into a center for sustainable agriculture and a model for an ideal urban-wildlife interface. The land’s ability to nurture human needs as well as the greater-than-human biodiversity can be an inspiration and source of spiritual connection as well.”

On balance these insights about potential resonate with our stated purpose: Providing diverse and underserved communities with equitable access to urban farmland and education in sustainable agriculture – prioritizing food justice, biodiversity, and climate resilience.

Going forward, the Board of Directors seeks a master plan and design for the farm to ensure that the infrastructure and practices are in place to fulfill our purpose.  Step one is to gather stakeholder input.  We want to hear from you!  Stay tuned for upcoming listening sessions and focus groups to build on these initial inputs.

Discovering Farm Therapy

by Nathan Kunkle
Social Work Intern

Rio Grande Community Farm

Many people find working outdoors in the fields to be therapeutic. Did you know that farming has been proven to be an effective treatment for various mental and physical health conditions? Farm therapy is a type of therapeutic practice that involves engaging individuals in agricultural and gardening activities to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This approach typically occurs on farms or gardens, where participants interact with plants, animals, and the natural environment. Although less well known than other types of outdoor therapy, such as wilderness or equine, farm therapy is becoming more common as its benefits become more widely enjoyed.

The activities involved in farm therapy can vary widely and may include planting and caring for crops, taking care of animals, and participating in outdoor activities. The aim is to use the farm environment as a therapeutic tool to address various physical and mental health issues.

Farm therapy is beneficial for a variety of populations, including individuals with stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and various developmental disorders. The hands-on nature of the activities, combined with the connection to nature, is believed to positively impact mood, cognition, and overall quality of life. Additionally, farm therapy provides opportunities for social interaction and skill development.

It’s important to note that farm therapy is just one of many therapeutic approaches, and its effectiveness may vary depending on the individual. As with any treatment, it is recommended to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable interventions for specific needs.

Empowering Our Community

Seeking Board Committee Members

If you love your community and your Community the Farm, you may want to consider volunteering on one or more empowered board committees to develop and actively implement policies to achieve our purpose. We’re seeking volunteer members-at-large to represent our community.

Board Committees:

  • Communications Committee
  • Ecological Planning Committee
  • Engagement Committee
  • Fundraising Committee
  • Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee
  • Organizational Development Committee
  • Programs Committee

Make An Impact

Seeking Indigenous Scholarship Advisors

The Indigenous Scholarship Advisor position offers a unique opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of urban Indigenous individuals pursuing opportunities in sustainable agriculture. We are currently seeking three passionate and dedicated Indigenous Scholarship Advisors to help develop and implement our Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships program. This is a volunteer position with an estimated 10 hours over one year. Applications are due by February 10th, 2024.
Learn More Here

Explore New Opportunities

Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. MDT February 15, 2024. Award notifications will be sent Feb 20th, 2024. Scholarship award period runs Feb 20 to Dec. 31, 2024.

Rio Grande Community Farm’s is offering two Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships for 2024: one for our Community Garden and one for our MicroFarm Program. Both are awarded to Native American growers in-need who are living in urban Albuquerque, New Mexico and are seeking farmland for growing in a sustainable and pesticide-free manner in a diverse community environment.

These scholarships are made possible by donations from our cherished Members: Diane Marshall, Timothy Schollenberger, Olivia Schollenberger, and Nicole Baty.

Learn More Here

Classes & Workshops


Worm Compost & Soil Health

with Rich Adeyemi, Master Composter


9:00 11:00 am  (weather dependent)

Irrespective of where you live or the size of your space – house, apartment, condominium, garage – you can turn your kitchen and garden wastes into high fertility worm castings that can be added to your growing pots and garden soil. Attend our workshop where everything worms will be dissected.

RSVP to:



Seed Saving: Plan Ahead

11:00 am – 2:00 pm

With Brett Bakker, VP Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, former Native Seeds/SEARCH, and NMDA Organic Certification Program.

Effective seed savings begins with advance planning for maximum diversity and minimal unwanted cross-pollination. Start your growing season off right with this late winter workshop – a must for serious growers!
“Over the past 40 years, I’ve had the good fortune to learn seed saving from many patient NM elders and viejitos and, as is expected, this knowledge must be shared.” ~ Brett Bakker
Give what you can to help cover workshop costs. Masks encouraged and appreciated. Co-hosted by the Village of Los Ranchos Larry P. Abraham Agri-Nature Center 4920 Rio Grande Blvd NW Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM 87107





Knife Sharpening Workshop

SATURDAYS, MARCH 2 or 16, 2024
11:30 am
12:30 pm

Dull knives are not just frustrating and ineffective, they can be downright dangerous! Bring a knife you need to sharpen and come to the Red Barn at Rio Grande Community Farm where Andrew Jo of Space Dog Farm will teach you how to use a whetstone to regain your edge!





Introduction to Welding

2:00 4:00 pm

The hands-on welding workshop you’ve been wanting! Your instructor is Bert Gillespie, a retired professional welder who has worked underseas, building sky scrapers, teaching welding at community colleges, and doing specialized work at Sandia Labs. Bert will teach this class each Saturday until everyone has learned what they want to know!


What to Watch

Food Fighter

Film Review by Nathan Kunkle
Social Work Intern
Rio Grande Community arm

Ronni Kahn was once a successful corporate events company head, actively contributing to Australia’s annual $20 billion food waste. She soon realized the absurdity of discarding perfectly edible food and founded OzHarvest in 2004. This food rescue charity allowed her to trade in capitalism for social activism. The organization works with over 3,000 commercial outlets to save food that would otherwise end up in landfills, where it would produce harmful greenhouse gases. Since its establishment, OzHarvest has delivered more than 90 million meals to more than 1,300 charities.

Ronni has confronted politicians and large companies to expose the inconvenient truth that four million tons of edible food are wasted in Australia every year while millions of Aussies suffer from food insecurity. A self-identified “accidental activist,” Ronni is committed to reducing food waste and has made it her life’s work. Her journey is documented in the 2019 film Food Fighter, where she collaborates with the United Nations, meets with royalty, and even searches through dumpsters while holding the government accountable for its actions on this issue. This inspiring documentary portrays one woman’s fight against the global food waste crisis. It is streaming on several services, including the Food Matters TV channel on Prime Video.  Watch the trailer on YouTube Here.

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