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February 2024 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments

Contents

  • 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

FRIDAY FEB 2ND 10 AM

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 rich_a@riograndefarm.org 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

BY DONATION!



Worm Compost & Soil Health
Workshop

with Rich Adeyemi, Master Composter

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2024

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: rich_a@riograndefarm.org

________________________

BY DONATION!

Seed Saving: Plan Ahead

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2024
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

REGISTER HERE

_____________________

 

BY DONATION!

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!

REGISTER HERE


____________________

 

BY DONATION!

Introduction to Welding

SATURDAYS, MARCH 23 or APRIL 6
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!

REGISTER HERE

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.

January 2024 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments

January Newsletter Contents

New Year’s Resolution: Get Involved in Your Community Farm! 

  • Welcome to the 2024 Growing Season!
  • You’re Invited! Join the Board or a Board Committee
  • Make an Impact! Indigenous Scholarship Advisor
  • Explore Options! Indigenous Scholarships
  • Reserve Your Row! The Community Garden
  • Apply Today! The MicroFarm Program
  • Join Us in the New Year! Become a Cherished Member
  • Learn Skills or Show off! Volunteer On The Farm
  • Take A Class! Winter Offerings
  • Join Forces! Partner with The Farm
  • Cultivate Solutions! Grow Your Community Farm

Welcome to the 2024 Growing Season!

It’s no secret there are tremendous challenges to food security today. In addition to climate change  bringing extreme heat, drought, floods, wildfires, and new pests, there are systemic issues with the agricultural industry itself. Every step you take to engage with Rio Grande Community Farm helps to close the local food gap.

Of course age doesn’t matter! Until it does. The average age of a farmer in the US is 57-and-a-half years old, casting doubt on the future of food itself. We also agree that money doesn’t buy happiness! But recent rental prices for an eighth-acre of urban land in our Village of Los Ranchos is at least $2,400 per year. If you can purchase water rights for that parcel, it could add up to another $4,000 per year. Obtaining water rights in New Mexico at all is a hard question mark with 65,000 New Mexicans claiming water rights who may become defendants in lawsuits brought by the state. The State Engineer’s Office estimates that it will take 15 years to address everyone’s claims. If you are a woman or a Person Of Color, your systemic barriers have been even greater, such as facing discrimination when seeking farmer loans from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Rio Grande Community Farm has been increasing food security since 1997 by breaking down barriers to access and engagement in sustainable urban agriculture. We offer classes in regenerative farming to would-be growers of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and economic situations – cultivating a passion for land stewardship and wildlife conservation along the way. We offer affordable pesticide-free urban farmland in our two-acre Community Garden and from 1/8- to two-acre plots through our MicroFarm program for market production.

What an exciting year we have planned – from new classes in seed saving and climate adaptation to Indigenous scholarships and experiments with fungal-dominant compost, aquaculture, and agrovoltaics!  Our Stakeholder Survey is complete and we will soon be sharing the takeaways on what you want! This is the ideal year for you to take the next step in your relationship with your Community Farm: reserve that Community Garden row, join the Board of Directors or a committee, volunteer, or take that membership or partnership plunge!

In cooperation,

Robyn Wagoner, Executive Director
robyn@riograndefarm.org | (505) 308.4987

YOU’RE INVITED!

Join The Board of Directors or a Board Committee

If you have a passion for providing underserved and diverse communities with equitable access to urban farmland and education in sustainable agriculture, and a commitment to wildlife conservation and social justice, consider joining us as a volunteer Director or Committee Member!

Positions:

  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Director-at-Large
  • Committee Members-at-Large (helping with communications, fundraising, engagement, sustainability, programming, and more!)

Position Overview:
Collaboration, communication, policy development, fundraising, committee work, and on the ground support for events, classes, and volunteers are some of the required activities.

Qualifications:
Experience in non-profit governance is preferred but we will train a promising candidate. Please also live in the Albuquerque area and have at least two hours per week available for board business. Additionally, you will need regular access to email, and competence with digital communication technology.

Women, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, immigrant, and disabled community members are encouraged to apply.

How to Apply:
Interested individuals are invited to email board@riograndefarm.org with your resume or bio, two references, and a statement of interest based on the following questions:

  • To which position are you applying?
  • What is your relationship to agriculture in New Mexico?
  • Do you have experience with non-profits or being on a Board of Directors?
  • What do you want to bring to Rio Grande Community Farm?
  • What about Rio Grande Community Farm inspires you to want to join the Board of Directors (or a Committee of the Board)?

MAKE AN IMPACT!

Indigenous Scholarship Advisory Council

 Position:

We are currently seeking three passionate and dedicated Indigenous Scholarship Advisors to help develop and implement our Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships program. 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.

Position Overview:

This position plays a crucial role in identifying, supporting, and guiding Indigenous individuals from various tribes who have a keen interest in sustainable farming and face financial barriers to pursuing their agricultural goals. This is a volunteer position with a flexible time commitment, estimated at five hours per month.

  1. Act as a liaison between Rio Grande Community Farm and the Indigenous communities in urban Albuquerque to enhance the reach and impact of the scholarship program
  2.  Support the awardee in negotiations with the organization whenever requested and assist them in navigating organization resources.
  3.  Assist in development of program, award criteria, outreach materials.
  4.  Review scholarship applications and ensure they meet the eligibility criteria and collaborate with the selection committee to identify promising candidates.

Qualifications:

  • Indigenous background from any tribe.
  • Passion for promoting equity, particularly in the field of agriculture.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work collaboratively in a diverse and inclusive environment.
  • Previous experience in scholarships, advising, agriculture, non-profits, or community outreach is helpful.

How to Apply:

Interested individuals are invited to email their resume or bio, two references, and a brief cover letter outlining their interest and qualifications to info@riograndefarm.org by February 1st, 2024. Please include “Indigenous Scholarship Advisor” in the subject line.

EXPLORE OPPORTUNITIES!

Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships

Scholarship award period runs Feb 15 to Dec. 31, 2024. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. MDT February 1st, 2024. Award notifications will be sent Feb 15th, 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.

Administration of our Indigenous Scholarships will be guided by a dedicated Indigenous Scholarship Advisory Council to ensure culturally appropriate standards and methods of support for the award recipients as well as to improve the reach and impact of the scholarship program.

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

LEARN MORE AND APPLY

RESERVE YOUR ROW FOR 2024!

The Community Garden

Our two-acre Community Garden serves our city with an abundance of seeds, workshops, mentorship, and community events to give growers opportunities to cultivate their own produce and build a network of friends and collaborators.

GROWER CONTRIBUTION

  • Annual Fee: $135 / row per season ending Dec. 31, 2024.
  • Suggested Weekly Commitment:  4 – 9 hrs / week
  • Volunteer Contribution: 15 hrs / season

GROWER AMENITIES

  • 150 sq ft garden row
  • Access to a variety of hand tools
  • Routine irrigation for rows
  • Soil-building components such as manure
  • Free seeds and discounts on plant starts
  • Trellis, tomato cages, and other equipment
  • Hay for mulching

You also receive a Rio Grande Community Farm Membership that includes benefits such as free classes and early-bird discount on festivals.

 

LEARN MORE AND APPLY

________________

APPLY TODAY!

The MicroFarm Program

For those interested in growing on a market scale, we provide access to farmland plots from one-eighth to two acres and irrigation through our MicroFarm Program.

GROWER CONTRIBUTION

Each 1/8-acre plot fee is $135 per season ending Dec. 31, 2024.

GROWER AMENITIES

In addition to the plot of farmland, you receive acequia irrigation, subject to water availability. Well water is available as a secondary water source in case of drought or for establishing young crops on drip lines. You’ll also receive a Rio Grande Community Farm Membership that includes benefits such as  free classes, booth space at our events, and early-bird festival discounts.

LEARN MORE AND APPLY

JOIN US IN THE NEW YEAR!

Become a Cherished Member

As a non-profit organization, we rely on valued members like you to provide core support for our programs and operations. If you are passionate about providing affordable urban farmland and sustainable farming education for diverse and underserved communities while stewarding Los Poblanos Fields for conserving biodiversity and natural resources, consider becoming a new member or renewing your membership for 2024!

Membership Options

SEED (individual) $25/year
ACEQUIA (individual) $100/year
HEIRLOOM (individual) $500/year
FLOCK (Family of four) $1,000/year

Click the button below for detailed benefits at each level and email info@riograndefarm.org for questions.

Join today through our GiveButter site

LEARN SKILLS OR SHOW OFF!

Volunteer On The Farm

Improve your quality of life and join us on the Farm! We currently have both labor and administrative positions available.

THE BENEFITS OF WORKING OUTDOORS

According to science, spending time in nature offers benefits such as increased activity which burns calories and improves sleep, increases exposure to sunlight producing hormone (vitamin) D, boosts creativity, improves focus, increases self-esteem, reduces anxiety, anger, and stress, increases serotonin, and raises energy levels. Breathing in compounds from working in the earth (phytoncides) has even been determined to improve immune function!

LEARN MORE

WINTER OFFERINGS

Classes & Workshops:

 

BY DONATION!

Composting Workshop

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2024
(and second Saturdays of every month)
9:00 11:00 am  (weather dependent)Workshop with certified Master Composter, Rich Adeyemi. Which materials are safe to compost? When to turn? What ratios of carbon to nitrogen are best? How to deal with scavengers? All your questions answered!

Email to save your spot: rich_a@riograndefarm.org


 

BY DONATION!

Introduction to Welding

SATURDAYS
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!

REGISTER HERE


 

 

BY DONATION!

Seed Saving Workshop

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2024
11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Effective seed savings begins with long term planning so get started with your instructor Brett Bakker from from New Mexico Dept. of Agriculture, Organic Farm Certification Consultant, and former Seed Collector for Native Seeds/Search.

REGISTER HERE

Join Forces!

Partner With Us

As an outstanding member of Albuquerque’s local business community, you seek opportunities to contribute to public health and environmental sustainability. You value a secure local food system, a robust agricultural economy, and collective conservation of our natural resources.

Rio Grande Community Farm shares your values. We’ve been providing low and no-cost programming to build the local knowledge base on sustainable agriculture and strengthen Albuquerque’s connection to the land since 1997.

Partnering with us can provide visibility for your organization on our website, in our promotional materials, on our social media accounts, or at our events that collectively host 17,000 attendees annually. You receive partner stickers, and employee engagement and team building events. Most importantly, local consumers learn that you are investing in their health and the security of our shared local food system.

Partnering with you allows us to continue offering affordable access to urban farmland and farming education while conserving native biodiversity and natural resources. We rely on donations and collaborations to power our non-profit organization, and with a daily operating cost of $575.00, your contribution directly impacts our success.

PARTNER WITH US!

Rio Grande Community Farm is proud to have been awarded the Candid Platinum Transparency badge. Click to view our charity profile.

CULTIVATE SOLUTIONS!


Grow Your Community Farm

Your tax-deductible gift helps to provide:

• Community programs that educate growers of all ages in sustainable agriculture, land stewardship, climate resilience, equipment operation, composting, and farm-to-market strategies

• Access to urban farmland and irrigation for diverse and underserved community members

• Enhancing habitat and forage for native and migrating species

• Iconic local events that celebrate our unique agricultural heritage

• Research in sustainable methods including solar energy, aquaponics, and fungal dominant compost

• Interdisciplinary college internships

• Neighborhood Composting Program that processes 6,600 gallons of food waste annually

• A living wage for our farm workers and educators

Checkout our accomplishments!

Donate Today!

December 2023 Newsletter

By NewsOne Comment

December Newsletter Contents

  • You’re Invited! Winter Open House Dec 16th
  • Last Chance to Take Our Survey
  • Our New Aquaponics System
  • Winter Classes & Workshops
  • New Membership Benefits
  • What Is Eco-Social Work?
  • Principles Make a Good Farmer
  • Film Review: Sustainable
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You’re invited to

Rio Grande Community Farm’s

WINTER OPEN HOUSE

SAT DEC 16th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

 

Tour the Farm during our meet and greet with Board, Staff, Growers, and Volunteers!
  • Explore our barn, greenhouse, and small space garden demo
  • Pick your own organic herbs, microgreens, lettuces, and arugula
  • Learn about our purpose and programs
  • Craft with Devil’s Claw
  • Take a Hayride Farm Tour
  • Enter to win a 6″ organic Mexican Oregano plant
  • Enjoy hot cider
  • Watch the migrating water fowl
  • Take home cozy beanies and hoodies
  • Sign up for membership and volunteering
  • Participate in our community survey

ADDRESS: 1701 Montaño Rd NW (from Montaño Rd, turn onto Tierra Viva Pl NW.) Park in the parking lot and walk to the red barn. Dogs are not allowed in the fields and must be on leash. Dress warmly and we’ll see you there!

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Last Chance

Take Our Stakeholder Survey by Dec 31st

Please take our anonymous community survey and help guide us into the future.

Complete nuestra encuesta comunitaria anónima antes del 31 de diciembre de 2023 y ayúdenos a guiarnos hacia el futuro, por favor. Para obtener una versión en español de nuestra encuesta comunitaria anónima, comuníquese con nathan@riograndefarm.org
What can we do better? What do we do well? What are your individual needs and hopes for the Farm? We invite all of our stakeholders including Members, Volunteers, Event Attendees, Community Gardeners, MicroFarmers, Newsletter Subscribers, Benefactors, Partners, Neighbors, and current and past Staff and Board to anonymously share your experiences to help us better understand the communities we serve and our effectiveness in actualizing our Purpose. How can we better support underserved and diverse communities? How can we facilitate open communication? How can we further food justice? What advice can you share with us? Help guide us into the future. No identifying information will be shared.

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

(Estimated time: 5 – 10 minutes)
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Winter Offerings

Classes & Workshops:


THIS SATURDAY! FREE!


Compressors and Air Tools Workshop

 

Wondering about Compressors and Air Tools on your farm? Here’s the free hands-on workshop you’ve been needing! Register today!

Saturday, December 2nd

1 – 3:30 pm

Last Chance to Register Click Here
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FREE!


Composting Workshops

 

Master the art of composting in our New Mexico desert climate with Rio Grande Community Farm’s own certified Master Composter, Rich Adeyemi. Which materials are safe to compost? When to turn? What ratios of carbon to nitrogen are best? How to deal with scavengers? All your questions answered!

Second Saturday of Every Month

9 am – 11 am  (Weather dependent)

Email to save your spot: rich_a@riograndefarm.org

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FREE!

Build a New Zealand Style Compost Bin

Our Master Composter, Rich Adeyemi, guides you through the process for constructing this beautiful and functional composting system!

Saturday Dec. 9

9 am  11 am

Email to save your spot: rich_a@riograndefarm.org 

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Check it out!

Our New Aquaponics System

We are excited to announce the progress being made by students from University of New Mexico’s Engineers Without Borders. The innovative group has begun installation of the structures for our new greenhouse aquaponics system with floating grow beds!Aquaponics is a form of agriculture that blends aquaculture – raising fish in tanks of circulating water, and soilless plant culture, or hydroponics. The living fish fertilize the water upon which he living plants are floating and the plants purify the water for the fish.

Drop by and see the wonderful work they’re doing!

(Read more at aquaponicssource.com)
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Announcing

New Membership Benefits

After taking a break for recruiting members, Rio Grande Community Farm is announcing a new structure for our Membership Program with even more perks and benefits! Consider your membership as an easy way to support programs that provide affordable farmland and sustainable farming education for diverse and underserved communities, while stewarding the Los Poblanos Fields Open Space for resource conservation and native wildlife.

Levels of Membership & Benefits

SEED (individual) $25/year

  • 1 Membership card
  • 1 Sticker
  • 1 Tote
  • 1 Class
  • 1 Newsletter subscription
  • Earlybird discount on all festival tickets
  • First to know about all special events and offers

ACEQUIA (individual) $100/year

  • 1 Membership card
  • 2 Stickers
  • 1 Bandana
  • 2 Classes
  • 1 Newsletter subscription
  • 2 Festival tickets
  • First to know about all special events and offers

HEIRLOOM (individual) $500/year

  • 1 Membership card
  • 3 Stickers
  • 1 T-Shirt
  • 3 Classes
  • 1 Newsletter subscription
  • 4 Festival tickets
  • 1 Sponsored Community Garden row for a grower-in-need
  • First to know about all special events and offers

FLOCK (Family of four) $1,000/year

  • 4 Membership cards
  • 4 Stickers
  • 4 T-Shirts
  • 4 Classes
  • 4 Newsletter subscriptions
  • 8 Festival tickets
  • 1 Sponsored 1/8 acre MicroFarm plot for a grower-in-need
  • First to know about all special events and offers

All merchandise must be picked up at the Farm Office at 1701 Montaño Rd NW in Albuquerque, NM 87107 by appointment. Festival tickets will be made available at the box office. Show your card at all events and classes to claim your benefit.

Request an application with the contact form on our website here

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What in the world is

Ecological Social Work?


by Nathan Kunkle, Social Work Intern
Rio Grande Community Farm

There is an inherent connection between the health of humans and the health of the environment. Social workers have long dealt with environmental impacts on communities, particularly those that are marginalized. It is with this view that eco-social workers try to nurture a sustainable environment so that humans live their best lives within it. They do this work in various settings such as community organizations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. In these places they advocate, educate, and study with the hope that they can enrich communities and individuals through their work.

The ongoing climate crisis has amplified the need for this scope of practice and in recent years there has been more awareness of ecological social work. It is becoming more important for social workers to engage with clients and communities on this subject while advocating for environmental justice.

Ecological social work aims to understand the intersection of people, communities, social issues, and the environment. Practitioners use a variety of interventions to help clients with diverse problems by helping them connect to the earth through farming or gardening. As a social work intern, it is my belief that Rio Grande Community Farm is involved in ecological social work practice by doing everything it states in its purpose –

“Providing diverse and underserved communities with equitable access to urban farmland and education in sustainable agriculture – prioritizing food justice, biodiversity, and climate resilience.”  

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Hardcore principles are

What Makes a Good Farmer

by Rich Adeyemi
Head Farmer & Educator
Rio Grande Community Farm

The term “good” is relative, but in this context I mean the characteristic of being strong in principles. A farmer has a tremendous responsibility to the ecosystems and communities with which they interact. In a world where the pressure of putting profit over people is pervasive, it will take a person with hardcore principles to continually do what is right when no one is watching. Having laid the foundation, let me try and build on it. Here are some of the characteristic traits of a good and principled farmer:

  • A good farmer needs to have hardcore principles to care about the environment and the soil and the community they feed.

They should have taken a pledge to never use any material in their garden that could cause harm to life. A good farmer uses cultivation methods that are environmentally healthy. It is worthy of note that human diseases cannot be destroyed at the source without good farmers working hard for the health of their communities.

  • A good farmer loves their soil. Soil is their product. Fruits and vegetables and grains are incidental by-products. A good farmer is conscious of the fact that they are the steward of soil and land and their principles tower above sales and profit.

A good farmer makes the soil productive  by constantly introducing a variety of helpful microbial cultures thereby making plants healthy and resistant to disease and pests. They do this because they understand the inevitable connection between the soil and those who consume what it produces. They understand that the health of the consumer is a direct product of the health of the soil.

  • A good farmer also cares deeply about the children in their community.

They know that due to the small size and weight of these children, they are maximally impacted by toxins. A good farmer knows that children have an infectious enthusiasm for nature, a gift that, when cultivated at a young age, will last for the rest of their lives. Hence, a good farmer invests some of their time and energy in igniting that love.

What other hardcore principles make a good farmer? We would love to hear your thoughts! Let us know at info@riograndefarm.org

November 2023 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments

 

Welcome to New and Old Friends of Rio Grande Community Farm!

Whether you attended our Maize Maze Fall Festival, our Lavender In The Village festival, our Spring Plant Sale, or our Classes, or if you are one of our Community Gardeners or MicroFarmers, or neighbors, or if you signed up to volunteer or receive membership information, this newsletter is for you!

You are receiving this issue of our monthly newsletter as an invitation to subscribe if you enjoy what you’re reading. You can also unsubscribe from this list  or  update subscription preferences.

To learn more about the Farm and all the ways your participation is vital to what we do, read on.
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Rio Grande Community Farm Proudly Announces Our Updated Statement of Purpose

On October 17th, 2023, the Rio Grande Community Farm’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a new Statement of Purpose to replace our former Mission Statement.

Our Former Mission Statement:
“To connect people, earth, water and wildlife in an urban setting by farming sustainably, enhancing wildlife habitat, educating our community and providing fresh, healthy food to diverse populations in Albuquerque.”

Our New Statement of Purpose:
“Providing diverse and underserved communities with equitable access to urban farmland and education in sustainable agriculture prioritizing food justice, biodiversity, and climate resilience.”

Inspiration
By replacing the term “mission” with “purpose,” we are decolonizing our organizational language. By placing those we serve in the beginning of our Purpose Statement, we are centering their needs. By specifying that we provide equitable access to resources, we are establishing an inclusive culture. By prioritizing food justice, biodiversity, and climate resilience in our education program, we are focusing upon the three keystone factors that define sustainable agriculture.

Join us on our more focused direction as we explore new ways to collaborate more deeply with our community!
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Rio Grande Community Farm Stakeholder Survey

Please take our anonymous community survey by December 31st, 2023 and help guide us into the future.

Para obtener una versión en español de nuestra encuesta comunitaria anónima, comuníquese con nathan@riograndefarm.org

What can we do better? What do we do well? What are your individual needs and hopes for the Farm? We invite all of our stakeholders including Members, Volunteers, Event Attendees, Community Gardeners, MicroFarmers, Newsletter Subscribers, Benefactors, Partners, Neighbors, and current and past Staff and Board to anonymously share your experiences to help us better understand the communities we serve and our effectiveness in actualizing our Purpose. How can we better support underserved and diverse communities? How can we facilitate open communication? How can we further food justice? What advice can you share with us? Help guide us into the future. No identifying information will be shared.

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

(Estimated time: 5 – 10 minutes)

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Giving Tuesday is November 28, 2023

When considering where to make your tax-deductible donation for #GivingTuesday  this month, please consider supporting your local community farm.

In 2022, Rio Grande Community Farm

  • Hosted four events serving 11,000 people at a cost below $10 per person including our Spring Plant Sale, Lavender In The Village, Harvest Dinner, and Maize Maze Fall Festival.
  • Served over 100 Community Gardeners including Albuquerque Master Gardeners and an in-patient rehab.
  • Cultivated 38 Micro Farmers, including a seed saver, a flower grower, a grower of plants to dye natural fabrics, a food justice group, four farmers producing for the Downtown Growers Market, four veterans, and six growers identifying as neurodiverse.
  • Administered two Farm Incubator Programs, Lutheran Family Services Refugee Agriculture Partnership Program, and Mountain Dojo Mountain Celestial Farm Neurodiverse Agriculture Program
  • Coordinated 127 volunteers who provided 10,000 hours of service to our community.
  • Established 116 fruit trees in partnership with Sikh Gurdwara and Interfaith Coalition.
  • Provided 1200 bales of hay purchased by eight local farmers.
  • Collaborated with four students from University of New Mexico Mechanical Engineering Solar Lab.
  • Served three-hundred and sixty-six children aged six  to 17 in Summer Farm Camp programs
  • Conserved 6.75 acres of our urban farmland for wildlife forage and habitat.

   Help us reach our new goal of $20,000 to support our important work for a full month

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Classes & Workshops

FREE!
Successful Winter Gardening

Offered either Saturday or Sunday for working families. Farm Coordinator Kelvin Schenk will demonstrate how to use cold frames, Dan’s mini hoop house, and the winter greenhouse. Other techniques include a livestock tank or low tunnel with frost cloth; hay bale grow beds with hoops; and enclosed tomato cages with grow cloth. Discover plants that do well in Albuquerque in protected growing environments!

Saturday, November 4th or Sunday, November 12th 
1 pm 3 pm

Sign up on the City of Albuquerque website under Lectures & Workshops
Click on Lectures and Workshops to see drop down menu for individual classes. For problems registering, call Ellie at 505-768-4959

FREE!
Composting Workshops

Master the art of composting in our New Mexico desert climate with our certified Master Composter, Rich Adeyemi. Which materials are safe to compost? When to turn? What ratios of carbon to nitrogen are best? How to deal with scavengers? All your questions answered!

Recurring Second Saturdays of Every Month
9:00 am  11:00 am  (Weather dependent)
To save your spot, email rich_a@riograndefarm.org

FREE!
Compressors & Air Tools Hands-on Workshop

Registration is mandatory. Only 15 spots available.

Saturday, Dec 2nd

1 pm-3:30 pm

Register at: https://shorturl.at/hAJTY

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Thoughts on Rio Grande Community Farm’s Land Acknowledgement

by Nathan Kunkle (He, him)
Social Work Intern at Rio Grande Community Farm 

 

A land acknowledgement is a formal declaration that aims to honor the historical and traditional connections of Indigenous communities to land now used by schools, government agencies, businesses, and non-profits.  They are presented in writing, spoken word or visuals and represent solidarity and acceptance that Indigenous communities never ceded their land and are its rightful stewards.On our website homepage, we have a land acknowledgement posted. While these statements have become a more common practice in recent years, they are still new to many of us.  

It is important to remember that while land acknowledgements may act as a step in a  positive direction, we must recognize the extensive issues related to colonization and dispossession. These announcements should not be seen as a substitute for policies, initiatives, and actions that address the systemic issues facing Indigenous communities. They should be part of a broader commitment to meaningful change and allyship.  

 

Our land acknowledgement at Rio Grande Community Farm reads,

“We respectfully acknowledge that the lands we farm are ancestral lands of countless, but not nameless, Indigenous Nations, communities, families, and individuals. We offer our respects to the Pueblos that surround Albuquerque today as stewards of these lands since time immemorial: Tsugwevaga (the Pueblo of Isleta), Tuf Shur Tia (the Pueblo of Sandia), Tamaya (the Pueblo of Santa Ana), Ka-Waikah (the Pueblo of Laguna), Haak’oh (the Pueblo of Acoma), and Tsiya (the Pueblo of Zia.) May we all work together to honor these lands that sustain us.”

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Navigating the New Normal of Split Growing Seasons

by Bruce Milne, Board President
Rio Grande Community Farm

If you’ve been a grower over the last decade, then you probably have seen your plants stop growing in the middle of the summer and then pick up again. All the water in the world doesn’t help because the problem is due to excessive heat. Back in the 1980s there was a single peak in July. Now we have two bouts, one in spring and then again in late summer. You aren’t hallucinating, the hiatus is real, and I have the data to explain why.  Even better, below I share a planting schedule ideal for the new hot world.

As an ecologist, I wanted to translate temperature into something more meaningful to crops so that I could test whether the splitting of the growing season, as predicted from climate change models, was happening yet. My analysis is grounded in a very useful model of plant growth and respiration from Duffy and others’ (2021 Sci. Adv. 2021; 7: eaay1052) compilation of 1500 instrument-years of global ecosystem data.  I hacked their model (in a good way) to measure temperature effects on vegetation on Los Poblanos Fields Open Space, as captured by the MODIS satellite, thanks to the Worldview Snapshots application (https://wvs.earthdata.nasa.gov),  part of the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). Temperatures were reported by the Farm’s own trusty weather station.

The analysis enabled me to diagnose the daily temperatures and find indeed that the growing season for cool season plants such as vegetables, alfalfa, and trees is split in two. In between the two bouts, we have temperatures more suitable to warm season plants such as corn, sorghum, amaranth, and purslane known around here as verdolagas, yummy! Actually, in 2023 there was one day too hot even for them.  What happens is that plant respiration gets so high that it cancels photosynthesis, literally starving the plant. Cool season plants start starving at 77 degrees F and warm season at 87 degrees F. These are the average temperatures over the entire day, not the daily maximum.

My wife Diane, who is also a plant ecologist, thought I should skip to the chase and share the fruits of my analysis to guide your crop selection and planting schedule next year. First of all, remember that in Albuquerque you can easily plant five times a year. Anytime from October through January you can plant garlic to harvest in June. The second opportunity is early April. In recent years our last frost has been between April 7 and 15, which begins the first bout of cool season growing. Perfect for greens, radishes, onions, potatoes, and carrots. Plant a second rep of veggies in late May and harvest them before the heat sets in.  For the hot season in the middle, celebrate July 4th by planting squash, beans, sunchokes, sweet potatoes, and corn – I’ve reaped bounties from all of these. Then, as fall approaches, hop on the second cool season with more chard and arugula.

In agriculture we use growing degree days, GDD, to measure the thermal requirements of crops. A growing degree day is the number of degrees above a given base temperature; base temperature is the minimum temperature for growth. For example, take April 30 at 19 degrees Celsius. Subtract the base of 10 degrees to get 9 growing degree days for that day. By doing this every day from the last frost forward we get the accumulated GDD. Each crop reaches milestones of flowering, fruiting, and ripening on a schedule of GDD. For example, corn requires a minimum of 800 GDD up to as much as 2700 GDD. Spring vegetables such as radish will be ready to pick with around 400 GDD.

To adapt to our new normal of split seasons, I prepared a chart of GDD schedules.  These begin and end at various times depending on whether we are interested in cool season crops or warm season. The chart anticipates which crops we can raise given their GDD requirements.

The chart shows how many GDDs (base of 10 degrees C) accumulated since a given starting day. The green bars at the bottom indicate the two cool seasons while the pink bar is the hot season, according to the Duffy model.  For example, as of September 30, the hot season had produced 778 GDD, just barely enough to support corn (maize). It would make sense to plant some corn in June to get it started and then let it rip in the heat. If you wanted dry beans, no problem, over the course of the first cool season and over the entire season, there was plenty of energy available and you probably would have dodged the stress of the hot season. With luck you might have been able to grow three crops of radish or similar crops such as lettuce and arugula.

Everything I’ve written here pertains strictly to the effects of temperature. There are other avenues for adapting your practice, including plant genetics, soil health, moisture management, and fertility. Nonetheless, the Duffy model explained almost 60% of the variation in vegetation responses, indicating that a better understanding of temperature is central to navigating the ever-changing new normal.

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It’s a Wrap: Fall Festival Maize Maze

Our Success is Your Success!

There was a fantastic turn out October 21st and 22nd for our 25th annual Maize Maze Fall Festival fundraiser at Los Poblanos Fields Open Space! Thanks to everyone who participated, we raised over  $17,000 to fund Farm operations and programs including affordable Community Garden rows, MicroFarmer Program, Pollinator Garden, and classes like Cutting and Propagation, and our free monthly Composting Workshop!

Where’s the Maize?

As part of our climate change adaptation program this year, our maze was grown from sorghum (pictured above) – a close relative of corn. Both species of grass are members of the subfamily Panicoideae in the family Gramineae. Sorghum is a gluten-free, non-tGMO ancient grain which is eaten all over Africa and Asia. Sorghum has slightly more protein and less fat than maize and grows well in spite of the extreme heat and drought conditions we experienced this year. When the festival is over, we knock the sorghum down and watch the deer, doves, migrating Sandhill cranes, geese, and ducks feasting in the field! Twenty-five percent of our land is conserved for wildlife forage and habitat! The stalks will act as a cover crop to the ground beneath. The decaying carbon rich material helps retain moisture and becomes a micro climate for invertebrates.Then mold, fungus, and microscopic life feed on the plant material, breaking it down into rich new soil.

Salsa Showdown Winner

Chantelle Wagner won our second Sunday Salsa Showdown with a classic spicy chile blend with great texture that was not too tomato heavy. Thank you to Sadie’s of New Mexico for donating the contest prizes!

It Took a Village

The weather was beautiful, the music was awesome, the food was scrumptious, and the crowd had a blast! Deep appreciation for Scott Rasband for growing our sorghum and leasing us his eight acre field for this event! Huge thanks to our tractor drivers: Head Farmer, Rich Adeyemi, Farm Coordinator, Kelvin Schenk, and Board Member, Chris Sylvan, for keeping the hayrides moving all across the Open Space fields. A heartfelt thank you to our promoters Dean and Loriana of Blue River Productions for organizing another successful event for the Farm! Our deepest appreciation for our neighbors at the Larry P. Abraham Agri-Nature Center for the exciting sheep shearing and cider pressing on Saturday, and to Big Jim Farms for the ristra stringing classes and donating from their pumpkin sales! Enthusiastic appreciation goes out to Enchanted Cinematography for the drone video of this year’s maze linked here. Thank you our wonderful vendors, hard working staff,  brilliant musicians, ans generous volunteers for making the day possible! A big shout out to Rio Grande High School’s football team and coaches for their tireless work until the very end. See you all again next year!
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Five Considerations for
Growing Food At Home
Part II

by Rich Adeyemi

In the last installment, we looked at the first consideration for growing food at home: Space. Read Part I linked here.

2. Style of Garden

Before you start a home garden think through on the kind of garden that will suit your person. Just because you saw a garden somewhere that you love does not mean that it will suit you. When designing a home garden, you need to decide how much time you will want to spend working in the garden daily or weekly,what you would prefer to grow, the scale of production – whether it will be subsistence, commercial or both. These will determine the size and layout of the garden and the features you will put in place. I will suggest you visit other home gardens to look at their design, structure and materials used to see what you can incorporate into your style. Examples of garden styles include: keyhole, herb, container, bag, rooftop, raised bed, balcony etc.

Keyhole garden
A keyhole garden is a form of round raised bed with a keyhole-like cutout in the middle to allow a person to sit or squat while they worked the garden around them. The keyhole shape make room for easy accessibility to every part of the bed. Keyhole garden is suitable for dry, semi-arid climates with poor or compacted soil. This type of garden is ideal for the elderly and people with limited mobility.

Bag gardening
Bag gardening is an inexpensive but high yielding food security technology to maximize land and water use. It is a production medium used within the frame of vertical agriculture. It enables gardeners to maximize the use of ground space by using both the top of the bag as well as its sides for cultivation.

Because of its vertical nature, bag garden is most ideal for leafy vegetables (such as lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard etc.), and herbs on both the top and sides of the bag. Leafy vegetables usually allow for several harvests at different times on one single plant.

Raised beds
Growing in beds maximizes the amount of growing space relative to walking space. For example, a 4 x 8 vegetable bed has 32 square feet of growing space, while a single row with walking spaces in between would only have about 16 square feet.

Vertical gardening
Vertical gardening enables you to make the most of your garden space by growing vegetables and fruits and colorful flowers up on a trellis, on garden netting, in a tower of pots, and over garden structures, while enjoying the benefits of easier maintenance, healthier plants, effortless harvesting, and higher yields.

3. Site Assessment

When starting a new garden or revamping an existing garden, it pays to your take time to familiarize yourself with the site. The fact that it is where you live does not mean you are familiar with some important factors that will contribute to the success of a home garden. Here are some factors to put into consideration when assessing your site:

  • Observe the soil structure and the existing vegetation for vital clues about soil condition and fertility. Is the vegetation on it healthy? Does it remain dry or soggy after rain? Is it free of debris and stones?
  • Observe the position of sunlight throughout the day. Most plants require full sunlight to grow; vegetables need at least 5 – 6 hours of sunlight per day. However, some vegetables and crops like some shade. Identify the hot spots and coolareas. The hot areas may require some trees for shading and cooling the garden during the hot season. Take note of the prevailing wind direction to see what will be suitable to act as windbreaks. Take note of these features.
  • Watch out for cables, pipes and drains and take note of where they are. You don’t want to plant where an underground cable or water pipe is laid just in case you need access to them some day.

(To be continued in the December’ 2023 Newsletter)

NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE

By NewsNo Comments

CLICK THE LINK TO READ:

JANUARY 2024
DECEMBER 2023
NOVEMBER 2023
OCTOBER 2023

NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2023

Five Considerations for Growing Food At Home

by Rich Adeyemi

Growing food at home is becoming more and more popular. This is because there is a growing awareness among consumers about food and its relationship to human and environmental health and well being. Hence, most people now want foods that are grown without harmful chemicals. They want foods that are fresh and nutritious and they want foods that are packaged without deceptive labels. In a world where the human population is constantly increasing, finding growers and companies that satisfy the above demands is a tall order. As a result, more people are opting to grow their own food, at home.

Home gardens involve utilizing the spaces around a house (front yard, backyard, patio, porch, rooftop or windowsill) to grow food, particularly vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. Growing food at home eliminates the need to travel long distances to get food. It reduces “food miles,” which is the distance food travels from farm to table. Foods with fewer food miles have been proven to retain about 95% of their nutritional value and flavor. What’s more, growing food at home beautifies your home landscape.

Getting Started

Starting a home garden can be intimidating, especially for those with no gardening experience. It can also take a lot of time and hard work, but, once established, home gardens can flourish with minimal labor or inputs. Careful planning is important for a successful home garden. Here are the most important considerations when starting a home garden:

1. Space
It is important to note that it no longer matters whether you have actual land. What really matters is identifying the space you do have. Houses with no land that have spaces (such as a porch, concrete floor, rooftop etc.) can build home gardens too. The amount of available space around your house will determine what techniques can be used and how many vegetables and other food crops can be produced. Your home garden can maximize the efficient use of every available space by deploying innovative technologies.

Vertical garden – For those with limited land or space, this method of gardening enables you to grow up and not out. You grow up on a trellis, on garden netting, in a tower of pots, and over garden structures.

Container garden – If you desire to have ready access to fresh food but have no land in which to grow, container gardening may be suitable for you. A container garden is grown completely in hardware such as pots, grow bags, bottles or an elevated wooden bed. (To be continued next month.)

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Maize Maze Fall Festival

Another fun-packed harvest season weekend at Rio Grande Community Farm with our signature Maize Maze, Sunday Salsa Showdown, local entertainment, hayrides, farm activities, and crafts!

On Saturday, our neighbors at the Village of Los Ranchos Larry P. Abraham Agri-Nature Center will offer free sheep shearing demos and more with your paid admission!

Our neighbors at Big Jim Farms are donating 10% of pumpkin sales to Rio Grande Community Farm! They are also offering their popular Chile Ristra Stringing classes at the event for an additional fee at checkout.
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Image: Larry and Rowena Sisneros

Row’s Pepper Takes First Prize at New Mexico State Fair

by Nathan Kunkle

A big congratulations to our very own Rowena Sisneros for her New Mexico State Fair First Place win! The green Serrano peppers (capsicum annuum “serrano”) she entered in the “Field, Garden, & Orchard Crops” competition took home the top prize. We could not be prouder.

Rowena first found out about the Farm from a pamphlet at the New Mexico State Fair several years ago – talk about full circle! After going through training with the Albuquerque Master Gardener program, she started working her own plot in the Community Garden. Besides the Vitamin D, connection to the earth, and wonderful produce, she has really enjoyed getting to know other growers. The community within the Farm has been important for her.

Rowena has been growing delicious produce and beautiful flowers on her plot for two years now, a long way from where she was born and raised on one of the Hundred Islands in the Philippines. Growing some produce she had missed from home such as bottle gourds and long beans has allowed her to reconnect with her heritage in a special way. Rowena excitedly showed me the bitter melon, lemongrass, a specific type of okra, and other produce primarily grown in Asia that her good friend grows a few plots over. We also spoke a bit about Filipino cuisine and how she would love to cook for us at community potluck! We can hardly wait!

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Aceqias: The Legacy Lives On

Film Review by Nathan Kunkle 

Is water a commodity or is it an integral part of our community? Should we sell it or should we share it?  Local filmmaker, Arcie Chapa, explores these questions in her documentary, “Acequias: The Legacy Lives On”. Chapa takes you on an impressive visual journey through New Mexico’s 700 acequias while sharing the history of these important and complex water systems.  Over hundreds of years, acequias have survived colonization and exploitation, all while connecting the people of New Mexico to earth, its water, and one another.  Traditions of the acequia live on in communities all over the state, but there are new threats to their existence as climate change pushes on.

“Acequias: The Legacy Lives On” is currently available to watch for free through PBS.  You can access it here.

September 2023 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments

New Educational Offerings:
Small Space Gardening, Cut & Propagate, Composting Workshops, and Successful Winter Gardening

We’re excited to announce four free and low-cost learning opportunities beginning in September!

COMPOSTING WORKSHOP

Master the art of composting in our New Mexico desert climate with our certified Master Composter, Rich Adeyemi. Which materials are safe to compost? When to turn? What ratios of carbon to nitrogen are best? How to deal with scavengers? All your questions answered!

Second Saturdays of Every Month
Beginning on Sept. 9th

9:00 am  11:00 am  (Weather dependent)
FREE!
To save your spot, email rich_a@riograndefarm.org

CUT & PROPAGATE CLASS

Learn how to save money and save your favorite genetics by propagating plants from cuttings! Gather in our beautiful Pollinator Garden to learn best practices from our Farm Coordinator, Kelvin Schenk.

Saturday, September 16th
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Fee:
$5
To save your spot, email garden@riograndefarm.org

SMALL SPACE GARDENING SERIES

Imagine that every day, just by walking out of your home into your yard, you can have access to enough fresh and nourishing food to meet the needs of your family. Imagine, also, that this is happening from a very small space. Rich Adeyemi will share multiple techniques, demonstration gardens, irrigation and water management, small space composting, and more!

Consecutive Saturdays
Sept. 30th, Oct. 7th,  Oct. 14th
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Fee: $25
(covers all three classes)
To save your spot, email rich_a@riograndefarm.org

SUCCESSFUL WINTER GARDENING CLASS

Offered either Saturday or Sunday for working families. Kelvin Schenk will demonstrate how to use cold frames, Dan’s mini hoop house, and the winter greenhouse. Other techniques include a livestock tank or low tunnel with frost cloth; hay bale grow beds with hoops;and  enclosed tomato cages with grow cloth. Discover plants that do well in Albuquerque in protected growing environments!

Saturday, October 7th or Sunday, October 15th 
4 pm 6 pm
FREE!
To save your spot, email garden@riograndefarm.org

 


Fall Festival & Maize Maze Dates

Saturday and Sunday October 21 and 22 the Fall Festival and Maize Maze Return!

Another fun-packed harvest season weekend at Rio Grande Community Farm with our signature Maize Maze, The Second Annual Salsa Showdown, local entertainment, hayrides, farm activities, and crafts. This year, we are collaborating with our neighbors at the Village of Los Ranchos Larry P. Abraham Agri-Nature Center, and Big Jim Farms to offer sheep shearing, pumpkin picking, and chile roasting! Boutique events at community businesses will precede the festival.
Save the dates! Tickets available soon!

Rio Grande Community Farm’s Agrivoltaics Research Project

Rio Grande Community Farm is pleased to be a site for breakthrough research in adaptive regenerative agriculture and over the next two years we will be helping to advance new technologies in agrivoltaics – a symbiosis between agriculture and solar power. Next spring, we will be working with engineers from Sandia National Laboratories and our volunteer Brian Naughton, to utilize a grant from US Department of Energy, to temporarily erect several poles with hanging solar panels (a ganged-PV system) near our well house. This microgrid system has been proven at Sandia Labs to produce substantive power while maintaining structural integrity up to 90 mph wind gusts. As our climate changes and heat intensifies, plants are suffering more instances of sun scorch and the soil moisture is rapidly depleted. The agrivoltaics system would shade crops during the hottest part of the day, and provide microgrid plus energy storage, producing power for our well pump and to charge farm equipment such as electric tractors. University of New Mexico will be testing the soil and crops grown under the solar panels and compare them to soil and crops grown in full sun. Humic acid, soil moisture, and photosynthesis will be measured. If there are positive results, these systems could be used to power difficult to reach neighborhoods in rural and mountain communities like Jemez. Stay tuned for updates on this fascinating topic!


MicroFarmer Profile:

The Mountain Dojo Farm

Since its establishment in 1997, Rio Grande Community Farm has expanded to help a wide variety of different populations. In addition to serving over 100 Community Garden row holders, it works in tandem with nearly 40 MicroFarmers to help them grow an expansive array of crops. It also hosts several organizations like the Tres Hermanas Farms Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, and many veteran farmers. This month we will be spotlighting one of these organizations, The Mountain Dojo. Come along as we document their humble beginnings in the agricultural space, discuss their philosophy, and delve into how Rio Grande Community Farm is helping them educate neurodivergent populations on agricultural practices.

The Mountain Dojo is a versatile organization founded by Stefanie and Logan Graner-Gillespie, as an inclusive, creative space for people of all backgrounds. In addition to offering classes in dance, aerobics, martial arts, yoga, and music they also work with Celestial Mountain Farm (a cooperative of neurodivergent folks) to produce homemade salves, soaps, and other products. This is especially impressive considering that neither Stefanie nor Logan come from an agricultural background. While the two have only been practicing micro-farming for the past several years, The Mountain Dojo’s origins begin much earlier.

The son of a construction worker and special education teacher, Logan grew up in the Albuquerque area. When he was around six years old, he took up Taekwondo (a Korean martial art that roughly translates to “The way of the fist and foot”) and has pursued it as a lifelong practice. When he was old enough, Logan left to go to college in Florida and joined a professional Taekwondo team in Miami. Several years layer he returned to Albuquerque and met Stefanie. Always looking for new, less structured ways of teaching martial arts, the two later collaborated to develop a new exciting way to teach martial arts: kung fu operas. The idea came from martial artists like Jackie Chan who trained in opera houses in Hong Kong to hone their craft.

Like many other organizations, COVID-19 made Logan and Stefanie change how they did business, and in the spring of 2020, the two had to completely rethink what direction they wanted for The Mountain Dojo. Unable to work in a traditional theater environment, the two resolved to do more activities that could be conducted outdoors. It was during this time-period that they started maintaining a garden at their 319 Mountain Rd location. Thanks to this garden, The Celestial Farm Co-op was born.

The Co-op is now in its 3rd agricultural season. Logan was always looking for new ways to incorporate martial arts principles into everyday tasks, so micro-farming was the next step in this thought process. Many martial arts weapons and techniques evolved from agrarian practices. For example, in Japan during the 1600s, weapons were banned for Okinawan peasants by the feudal government. In order to defend themselves, fighting styles were developed around iconic weapons like the nunchaku/nun-chucks (which was originally used as a flail for threshing rice) and the Kama (a pair of hand scythes) that allowed them to defend themselves. Last year, they outgrew their garden and decided to start working with Rio Grande Community Farm. Although neither Logan nor Stefanie had any previous agricultural experience, with the help of Rio Grande Community Farm, they are learning more each year. In addition to giving them an increasing amount of space to experiment with different crops, Rio Grande Community Farm offers regular educational opportunities, access to irrigation, compost and tools.

While Logan currently serves as the organization’s program director (performing tasks like managing operations and scheduling), the neurodivergent members of the Celestial Mountain Farm Co-op meet on a regular basis to have a discussion about the income the Co-op makes as a whole. Then they decide whether they want to pay it out to members in equal shares or invest the money back into the Co-op. As somebody who grew up regularly helping his mom in her special education classroom, making sure neurodivergent and disabled population are treated equally and with respect has always been of paramount importance to Logan. When asked if there are any misconceptions people may have about the neurodivergent populations, Logan said,
“There’s no such things as a typical brain.
Everybody has their own gift.”

Although the face of The Mountain Dojo has changed over the years, their work to provide an inclusive space to teach and foster creativity remains the same. It’s hard to say how The Mountain Dojo will look five years from now, but their devotion to their craft is inspirational. Rio Grande Community Farm will be there to provide the resources they need to learn and thrive.

 

 

 

 

 

Greenhouse Gas Sources by Sector – Project DrawdownClimate Impacts of (returning to) Regenerative Agriculture

At Rio Grande Community Farm, we employ regenerative agricultural methods that conserve water and soil and which have long been practiced by Indigenous Peoples. We honor these First Peoples as the source of wisdom behind all schools of conservation agriculture including permaculture, organic agriculture, and regenerative agriculture (1).

Scientists have now researched how conventional food, agriculture, and land use are responsible for 24% of global heating. Conventional and industrial farming remove forests; repeatedly disturb and deplete the soil; waste water; and utilize harmful fertilizers and pesticides to cultivate a monoculture (fields of one single crop). In the US, monocropping accounts for 440 million acres of farmland. Unfortunately, even crops that are certified organically grown can be raised in destructive monocultures on heavily-tilled soil (2, 3, 4).

Evidence is mounting that regenerative farming, permaculture, aquaculture, and agriforestry methods are cooling Earth by sequestering carbon in soils and trees; increasing productivity in smaller spaces; managing water more wisely; and reducing the use of artificial fertilizers whose production releases large quantities of nitrous oxide (a powerful greenhouse gas.) These more sustainable methods include covering the soil with mulch and cover crops; keeping living roots in the soil year-round; intercropping (cultivating a variety of companion crops within the same plot); refraining from tilling the soil; providing natural fertilizers, and using crop rotation and Integrated Pest Management systems instead of pesticides. Other benefits of regenerative methods include improved soil tilth and fertility with decreased erosion,  protection of fresh water resources, improved economic well-being, increased habitat, biodiversity, and crop productivity (5, 6).

Rio Grande Community Farm is located on Los Poblanos Fields Open Space and  demonstrates adaptive, regenerative methods on land leased from The City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Open Space Division (OSD). We are currently on an annual lease which prevents us from cultivating perennials or participating in long-term agriforestry projects. We continue to work with OSD to negotiate our contract and cultivate a trusting relationship so we may one day be allowed to develop options for long-term projects that can include earthworks, areas designated for permanent wildlife corridors, and multispecies native food forests.

In closing, we will share a link to Project Drawdown, an action-based set of instructions documented in a well-researched book by the same name that details 100 steps we can all take to reduce the drivers of global heating. This quote from their section on conservation agriculture illustrates that agricultural knowledge has traveled in a circle returning to the wisdom of aboriginal cultures who have practiced in this way for millennia and who continue to innovate.

“Scientists estimate that 8 percent of the carbon in the upper layers of Earth’s soils has been released into the atmosphere over the past centuries. Bringing that carbon back home through regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities to address human and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers.”

Sources:
1. https://nfu.org/2020/10/12/the-indigenous-origins-of-regenerative-agriculture/

2. Lockeretz, W. (1978). The Lessons of the Dust Bowl: Several decades before the current concern with environmental problems, dust storms ravaged the Great Plains, and the threat of more dust storms still hangs over us. American Scientist, 66(5), 560–569. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27848850

3. https://abcnews.go.com/International/monoculture-farming-modern-day-agriculture-killing-bees-scientists/story

4. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/hidden-costs-industrial-agriculture

5. https://drawdown.org/solutions/regenerative-annual-cropping

6. https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-priorities/provide-food-and-water-sustainably/food-and-water-stories/climate-friendly-food-faqs-regenerative-ag-101

Farewell & Greetings

Seasons of change are upon us and as we bid a fond farewell of gratitude to those who have brought us to where we are, and likewise extend a warm welcome of appreciation to those who will take us into the future.

Farewell, Andy! An appreciative thank you to Andrew Jo who will be leaving his position as Secretary of the Rio Grande Community Farm Board of Directors due to a busy schedule with his own agricultural projects! Andrew is full of passion and heart and we are thrilled that he will continue his work with the Farm as a regular volunteer! You will see his aMAZing work designing and cutting our Maize Maze on October 21st and 22nd!

 

 

Farewell, Jamie! We wave a bitter sweet hours revoir to our transformative Executive Director of the past three years, Jamie Welles, who has served the organization brilliantly! In addition to developing our operational model and successful MicroFarmer Program, Jamie secured grants that allowed us to provide our farm workers with some of the highest pay in New Mexico. She hired Rich Adeyemi, our new Head Farmer and Educator, and laid the groundwork for the expansion that led to our Farm Equipment Loan program and solvent operating budget. Jamie built strong relationships with The Village of Los Ranchos and Albuquerque Open Space Division. She established the Farm as an important contributor to public welfare and education. We will always be grateful and wish her a wonderful retirement!

 

Farewell, Micelio! Bidding a heartfelt adios to Micelio Loera-Ramirez who brought a powerful drive for food justice to the position of Farm Educator! Micelio is on to a new adventure in transforming our food systems! All the best to you Micelio and gracias por todo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings, Rich! In July, Rich became our full-time Head Farmer and Educator! A certified Master Composter, Rich has been working as one of our Farm Educators and leading our Composting Program since February. Here he is working in our greenhouse. Rich brings such love and enthusiasm to his work after he was forced to abandon his own farm in Nigeria where civil unrest prevented him from growing food for his family. We congratulate him on his well-deserved promotion! Sign up for Rich’s new classes on Composting and Small Space Gardening by emailing: rich_a@riograndefarm.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings, Nathan! A big howdy to Nathan Kunkle, our Social Work Intern from New Mexico Highlands University! Nathan is a compassionate and inspiring advocate for social justice and a former chef who has chosen the Farm to complete his practicum. We are excited to work with Nathan to help us develop new ways to serve our diverse community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings, Robyn! Join us in welcoming Robyn Wagoner as our new Executive Director! A 30-year New Mexico resident, Robyn comes to us with two decades of experience in the non-profit food justice sector with Northwest Permaculture Convergence and Olympia Food Co-op. She holds a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, and has earned certifications in Permacuture Design and Cultural Competency. Robyn is working to increase the visibility of the Farm and our many accomplishments while building our reputation as leaders in community supported agriculture and biodiversity conservation. Don’t hesitate to contact her with your thoughts about how the Farm can best serve our community by emailing: robyn@riograndefarm.org

 

 

 

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Mixed-race woman with a tattoo on her arm smiling wearing a white hat holding a drink and Black man in a light blue shirt and sunglasses standing close to her. hey are outside in the sunshine and in the background there are white tents with crowds of people.

Lavender In the Village 2023

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A heartfelt thank you to everyone who attended for your joyful presence at this year’s Lavender in the Village festival and all of the boutique events during the week of July 17-23, 2023!

This annual celebration of the versatile lavender plant is hosted by The Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and Rio Grande Community Farm (RGCF). All festival proceeds are benefiting the farm and your generous contributions will fund:

• Purchase of farm equipment shared between the RGCF, the Larry P. Abraham Agri-Nature Center, and other members of the community equipment loan pool.
• Necessary staff and materials to maintain the RGCF Compost Program and to provide workshops on hot pile and fungal-dominate composting.
• Hardware to enhance worker safety at RGCF.

You can learn more about the impact of your donations of time, equipment, and financial support to Rio Grande Community Farm by visiting:

RioGrandeFarm.org

and by reading our Rio Grande Community Farm 2022 Impact Report

A flag in a field

May 2023 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments

DIY Scavenger Hunt

Are you looking for a fun way to explore your community farm? Try the official Rio Grande Community Farm scavenger hunt! It’s a great activity for families, friends, or anyone who loves to discover new things.  As you walk the trails, jot down what you find that fits each clue.

  1. Rows of alliums (see the artificial intelligence article below for definition) growing in a field near the well house.
  2. The Gallegos Lateral, an historic and unusual east-to-west acequia that helps water the crops.
  3. Squirrels, which scurry around in the big brush piles. Do they have a tail or no tail?
  4. The well house, where we get some of our water for irrigation (the water is only 26 feet down). How many fruit trees are in the orchard to the east side, toward the mountains?
  5. The hoop house, where we grow some of our crops. Notice the Johnson Su compost system tanks in front.
  6. Nesting birds, which love the quarter-acre pollinator garden.
  7. Cattle egrets, which are looking for cattle that don’t exist! What color are their legs?
  8. Artistic signs identifying Ashokra Farms and Space Dog Farms.
  9. The sculptural geodesic hut/sculpture made of recycled pallets, near the community garden, serving 97 people this year.
  10. Cattle tanks, which never provide water for cows because… no cows here! Can you figure out what the tanks are for?
  11. Plowed fields? Hint: We never plow! Instead, look for our cover crops — their roots do the plowing and feed beneficial bacteria and fungi, saving us fertilizer and help to fight drought.

As you search, take the time to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the farm — the sky, the breeze, bird calls, curious bugs, shady spots to rest, the thumping of your feet on the ground, maybe even a friendly gopher snake.  You may discover things you’ve never seen before and learn more about how we grow our crops. We hope you have a memorable experience at Rio Grande Community Farm.

Imagine, it isn’t hard to do…

Our Solar-powered Farm

We’re excited to announce that we’re seeking $5,000 in donations to complete our mobile solar generating system! Volunteer Brian Naughton, farm manager Kelvin Schenk, and a team of UNM engineering and CNM solar photovoltaics students refurbished the frame and wheels from an old manure spreader, added some donated racking from Tamarack Solar, and surplus solar panels to get halfway towards our vision of a mobile solar power trailer. We’ll use it to power summer farm camp, the Lavender Festival, and bands at the Maize Maze. The 4-panel (1200 Watts total) solar trailer is awaiting funding to add a controller, batteries, and an inverter. Once completed, it will power the audio system at events, charge the electric-BCS walk-behind tractor in Field 4 for our micro-farmers, power the electric grain thresher, recharge power tools, power lights and ventilation in the hoophouses, and more.

Volunteer Brian Naughton in front of the RGCF Solar Trailer

“Farms used to be 100% solar powered, converting sunlight into food for humans and animals to grow a surplus for others. I think we can get back to 100% solar powered farming with new technologies like solar panels and electric tractors for a more resilient local food source. That’s my motivation for these projects”, says Brian.

There are many other active solar-powered projects. The cistern at the wellhouse has 2 panels (200 Watts total) to run the automatic watering system for the fungal compost system and a Dewalt battery charging station for farm power tools — peacefully quiet, no pollution. The real-time weather station data from instruments at the barn are also solar powered. Finally, we are in the final planning stages for a barnyard solar structure that could generate up to 20 kilowatts of power for the barn, office, greenhouse (goodbye propane heater!) and a future electric tractor. We’re committed to sustainable energy solutions, and hope you’ll join us in supporting our efforts to build out our solar trailer generating system and other solar-powered projects! Your much-appreciated donation can be placed here. Thank you  so much!

Ultimate Garden Planning

(with Help from Artificial Intelligence)

Spring is here, and it’s the perfect time to plan and plant your garden! Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a first timer, we have some tips to help you make the most of your garden for years to come. By the way, New Mexico is great for planting three, four, even five times a year.  We’ve seen astounding yields of beans, sweet potatoes, and sun chokes that weren’t planted until July fourth.

In this article you’ll see how to use artificial intelligence to design a crop rotation plan. The accompanying image of lettuce and allium beds was generated from scratch by Dalle-2, another AI tool, beginning with a swarm of random pixels!

Aliums and Lettuce—generated by DAL-E AI

Last month we considered basic factors when planning your garden, namely sunlight, soil type, drainage, and choosing plants that are well-suited to our growing conditions; you can still see recommended plants on this website.

If you are a serial gardener (year after year), consider making a crop rotation plan. Crop rotation helps break disease cycles and leverages certain crops to help the ones that follow, kind of like paying it forward.  For example, by moving tomatoes around you can break the root nematode cycle.  By planting greens after a year of legumes your future salad will get plenty of nitrogen, thanks to the beans.

First, map your garden space into sub-units, which could be plots or rows, with separate beds within. You’ll use the same geometry year after year, but the plants will shift around. Number each bed. Then, make a list of your main types or crops:

  • Tomato family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, tomatillos)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, garbanzos)
  • Greens (lettuce, chard, spinach)
  • Cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, pumpkins)
  • Alliums (onions, garlic, chives)
  • Grasses (primarily corn or maize)
  • Herbs (mint, basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley, thyme, etc.)

Here’s the fun and ridiculously easy part. Go to openai.com and use Chat-GPT to create your rotation plan. Warm up with the following example “prompt” and get the AI’s response within seconds. For your actual garden, just modify the prompt to fit your needs. Notice how grammatically sloppy the prompt is, yet it works nonetheless! You can ask it to format for a spreadsheet as well.

Your prompt

“Provide a crop rotation plan for these types of crops, tomato family legumes greens cucurbits alliums, assuming two years and 5 beds.”

Chat-GPT’s response

“Here’s a sample crop rotation plan for a two-year period and five beds, assuming the crops are from the tomato family, legumes, greens, cucurbits, and alliums:

Year 1
  • Bed 1: Tomatoes
  • Bed 2: Legumes (e.g., beans, peas)
  • Bed 3: Greens (e.g., lettuce, spinach)
  • Bed 4: Cucurbits (e.g. squash, cucumbers)
  • Bed 5: Alliums (e.g. onions, garlic)
Year 2
  • Bed 1: Legumes
  • Bed 2: Greens
  • Bed 3: Cucurbits
  • Bed 4: Alliums
  • Bed 5: Tomatoes

In this rotation plan, the crops are rotated so that plants from the same family are not grown in the same bed two years in a row. This helps to reduce the buildup of soil-borne diseases and pests that can affect these crops. Additionally, legumes are included in the rotation to help fix nitrogen in the soil, which is beneficial for the other crops. … It’s always a good idea to do some research on the specific crops you’re growing and their specific needs to create the most effective crop rotation plan for your garden.”

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a successful spring planting season. Happy gardening!

Volunteer Opportunities in May

  1. May 10, Landscaping Around the Greenhouse, 10 am – noon. RSVP kelvin@riograndefarm.org
  2. Rich, of the Bernalillo Master Composters, will lead a hands-on session, Building a Compost Pile, May 13, 8 am to 10 am at the community garden, 1630 Solar. RSVP rich_a@riograndefarm.org
  3. Inter-cropping in Hedgerows for Biodiversity, May 17 and June 14, 6 pm-8 pm at the community garden  RSVP YURI@RIOGRANDEFARM.ORG

Last year, volunteers provided over 10,000 hours of service that really made the farm sing.  We are so grateful for everyone who spent time on the farm. If you love to be outdoors and want to get your hands dirty, please join us on the farm. We host volunteers by appointment. During your time volunteering, you may be asked to weed, water, plant and harvest, or work on a special project. We welcome individuals and groups for one-time visits as well as ongoing commitments; however, volunteers must be 18 years or older or be accompanied by an adult. Sign up here.

Rio Grande Community Farms – Since 1997
Los Poblanos Open Space (north side of Montaño, west of 4th Street)

Riograndefarm.org
Trails are open dawn to dusk every day. For sanitation reasons, no pets in farm fields please.

Permitted farm vehicles on site will display special hang tags.

Old Ford tractor

April 2023 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments

Welcome to the Farm!

Jamie Welles, Executive Director

I am so grateful for your support of the community farm and our mission of sustainable urban agriculture, environmental education, and wildlife. In the three years I have been Executive Director, RGCF has become a leader for regenerative farming techniques. We’ve expanded to 38 micro-farmers this year, who grow produce, herbs, flowers, and seeds. This year we are serving over 100 garden row-holders. We’re proud to host Tres Hermanas Farms Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, the Mountain Dojo neuro-divergent group, and veteran farmers.  With your support we hired two new Farm Educators, Yurida Loera-Ramirez, who goes by Yuri, and Rich Adeyemi. They have really helped Kelvin, our Farm Coordinator, out and are wonderful additions to lead workshops and grow our summer camp program to over 350 youth.

We now have three different types of composting: hot pile, windrow, and Johnson Su bioreactors. Come visit and see how we’re adding compost buckets to our 116 fruit trees to provide nutrients naturally. Rich has been involved with the Bernalillo County Master Composters and is bringing more knowledge and workshops to our community farm.

Thanks to the City, RGCF made great improvements to the greenhouse this year – replacing the roofing gear system, lighting, and fans. We have also installed new cooling system media, durable rolling tables and built a large germination box. All this makes starting plants easier and gives us more square footage for plants. Yuri has the greenhouse looking awesome.

Thank you all who have helped with donations and volunteering. With you, the farm is able to become what it is today and what it will become tomorrow. Please come see us at the Plant Sale and Spring Festival, April 15th from 9 am-5 pm and meet Rich and Yuri.

Farmstrong spring Festival

Get ready for our annual seedling sale and Farmstrong Festival at Rio Grande Community Farm!

We’re excited to offer a wide variety of vegetable seedlings, including hundreds of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and salad greens all grown right here, pesticide-free, as we’ve been doing for 26 years. Come by and get your spring and summer starts!

Come out April 15th from 9 – 5 for your plants at our FarmStrong Spring Festival, with live bands, a marketplace with 19 vendors selling handmade items, and plenty of delicious food and beer garden. Boogie to your favorite bands, including Que Onda, The High Desert Playboys Duo, Swing Magique, Zink and the Oxides, and Rodney Bowe.  It’s going to be a fun-filled family-friendly event — bring your friends. Be sure to check out the local vendors including Jo’s Farms, Enchantment Press, Kimber Ross Studios, Artemisia Herbs,Bloomers, Crystal Rhapsody, Loaded Lemon Abq, Laughing Hare Hot Glass, New Mexico Sticker Company/Metal The Brand, Sugar Bee’s Sweets, El TACO STOP, and Enchanting Kreativity.

Parking is free at the Los Poblanos Fields Open Space
(Montaño Rd., NW and Tierra Viva Place, NW).

From there walk east to the gazebo under the big cottonwood tree.

Admission is $5 per head, kids 3 and under are free

As a non-profit organization, we appreciate your joining us for one of our main fundraising events. You will be supporting our work in sustainable urban agriculture, environmental education, and wildlife habitat enhancement.  This year we expect to serve 12,000 visitors, 350 youth at summer farm camp, 100 folks in our community garden, and 38 awesome micro-farmers operating on 1/8 to 1-acre plots.

Nasturtium

What you’ll find at the plant sale!

Are you planning to start a garden in your backyard, on your apartment patio, or even indoors? We have a variety of seedlings that are perfect for any size and type of garden. For those with limited space, try our compact varieties such as cherry tomatoes, herbs, and peppers, which can thrive in small containers on apartment patios or even indoors near a sunny window. Schools and community gardens can benefit from our larger varieties such as pumpkins, squash, and watermelons, which are great for group activities and harvesting in the fall. Whatever your gardening situation, we have the perfect seedlings to help you get started and grow your own fresh produce

Cherry tomatoes

Five ways to ensure juicy tomatoes (and crunchy radishes)!

At Rio Grande Community Farms, we like to think like a plant.  Our seedlings say, “Watch out for frost” and “Keep my roots in healthy soil”.  In your garden you’ll have plenty of sun and water to give your plants, so their needs boil down to healthy soils (thank you compost!)  and protection from late frosts. Thankfully, our team has already selected strong varieties for you and kept out the poisons you might get with plants from big box stores.

Harden off your seedlings: Before planting your seedlings outside, it’s important to gradually expose them to outdoor conditions. This process, called hardening off, acclimates the plants to changes in temperature, sunlight, and wind. Start by placing your seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend outside over the course of a week or two.  Double check soil moisture in the pots because they can dry out faster in Albuquerque’s breezes.

Protect against frost: If frost is a concern, cover your seedlings with frost blankets or other protective coverings on nights when frost is expected.

Choose the right planting location: Make sure to choose a spot that receives adequate sunlight (more than 6 hours a day), has good drainage, and is protected from strong winds. Avoid planting in low-lying areas where cold air can accumulate, as this can increase the risk of frost damage.

Amend soil as needed:  When you put your seedlings in the ground, or a larger pot on our patio, be sure to add compost or other organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility.  Why not consider testing your soil to determine its pH and nutrient levels? No need to overdo the fertilizer, which can burn leaves or even stall fruiting. Several times over the season, top dress with an inch or two of compost to create the optimal growing conditions and reduce water stress; avoid bare soil. Adding fertility is crucial for potted plants because frequent watering flushes out precious nitrogen fertilizer.

Water regularly: Seedlings require consistent moisture to thrive, so make sure to water them regularly. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other issues.

By following these tips, your seedlings will have the best possible chance of success, even if our last frost surprises us.

Keep it Green #RGCF @riograndecommunityfarm

Keep it Green

By News2 Comments

Andy Jo, the creator of this sign, is the proprietor of Space Dog Farms and one of the RGCF small farmers in the open space. He hid the sign somewhere on the farm… Find the sign and tag a picture of yourself on Instagram with @riograndecommunityfarm and the #RGCF hashtag (help us reclaim it!), and we’ll send you a Rio Grande Community Farm Sticker.

Keep it Green sign, in context.