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April 2024 Newsletter

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April Newsletter Contents

  • Correction To March Newsletter
  • Our Annual Spring Plant Sale Sat. April 13th
  • Welcome to John Wright, Board Treasurer
  • Board Secretary Call for Applications
  • Meet April, Our Scholarship Recipient
  • Round-up for The Farm at La Montañita Co-op in April
  • MicroFarmers at Downtown Growers’ Market May-Sept
  • Your Feedback Requested: Sustainability Improvements
  • New Signs Installed with Our Core Values
  • Volunteer Opportunities at The Farm
  • Upcoming Classes & Workshops
  • One Gardener to Another
  • Remote Sensing Project with CNM
  • The Case for Soil Health, Part II
  • The Spring Equinox
  • Invitation to Inform our Farm Design
  • Farming for Profit: Strategies to Create a Successful Farm
  • What to Watch: Seed – The Untold Story

Correction to March Newsletter

Depending upon what type of device you were using to view the March Newsletter, multiple photo groupings published may have appeared in a different order.

Below, our Indigenous Scholarship Advisory Council (SAC) is correctly identified. Follow the links provided for their individual bios and more info.

Indigenous Scholarship Advisory Council (ISAC)
Joshuaa Allison-Burbank
James Sumpter
Trevor Goodluck
Read ISAC bios here:
Time again for our annual fundraiser!

Spring Plant Sale

Saturday, April 13th
9 AM to 4 PM

1701 Montaño Rd NW Albq., NM 87107 (turn on Tierra Viva Pl and park in the lot on your left. Walk to the Red Barn on your right.)

Buy six tomato plants and take home a cherry tomato for free!

Hustle and bustle around the Rio Grande Community Farm greenhouse with staff and volunteers cultivating and nurturing 3,000 baby veggie starts – all without pesticides – to provide our community with delicious, healthy, local produce this season! Our Spring Plant Sale has grown into a much anticipated annual fundraising event, and this year will not disappoint.

Note: There are no online pre-sales this year, and our young plants are sold on a first come basis.

Join us in our barnyard

  • Take home your favorite heirloom tomatoes, native chiles, colorful chard, prolific eggplants, aromatic herbs, edible flowers and more (see our Spring Plant Sale Catalog)
  • Ask Albuquerque Master Gardeners your plant care questions
  • Try the unique offerings produced by our MicroFarmers
  • Tour our new SunChaser Solar Education Trailer
  • Pick up some quality used tools for sale from local farmers
  • Engage in focus groups about our Farm Design project
  • Sign up for a Community Garden row or Microfarm plot, become a member or volunteer, or even teach a class!

Our Spring Plant Sale is integral to financing our programs to provide diverse and underserved communities with equitable access to urban farmland and education in sustainable agriculture.

Remember: While Saturday the 13th is also the first day of the Downtown Growers Market, our Spring Plant Sale only happens once a year. If you plan to come to both events, try dropping by the Growers Market between 8 and 9 am so you don’t miss out on the amazing variety of lovingly tended plant starts from our greenhouse and offer your support for our work!

Check out the Spring Plant Sale Catalog here.

Meet April, Our Community Garden Scholarship Recipient

I am April M. from Fort Defiance, AZ. Through the Community Garden, I hope to teach myself and my family the basics of having a garden. I also seek to strengthen my connection with my children and Mother Earth with gardening. This also will serve as a third place for me to unwind from work and city living. I hope to grow produce that we can eat together as a family or a snack we take to school/work. This experience will allow my family and I to learn life long skills.

[Rio Grande Community Farm is honored to support April in her goals! ~Ed.]

Welcome John Wright,  Board Treasurer

John was previously Executive Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Study Committee and NM2050 (a youth agriculture internship program.) He has worked with several non-profits including the North Valley Coalition of Neighborhoods where he was a board member for two years. John also worked at Rio Grande High School where he started the school’s garden and later worked with other teachers in operating an agricultural internship program.

John was inspired to apply for the Treasurer position at Rio Grande Community Farm because of he has family connections to Native American Pueblos and supports the Community Farm’s efforts to attract Native Americans to participate.

We are grateful for John’s service to our community!

The Board Secretary position is still open and we encourage prospective applicants to visit our website for information on the application process.

Round-up for Rio Grande Community Farm at La Montañita Food Co-op in April

Throughout the month of April, shoppers at La Montañita Food Co-op will have the opportunity to Round-up for Change on every purchase to help fund programs and operations at Rio Grande Community Farm!

La Montañita has supported local New Mexico sustainable agriculture since they began selling dried beans in bags on the floor of an abandoned Walgreens in 1976. In almost fifty years, they have grown to serving 17,000 families and operate four stores in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Gallup offering produce grown with methods that include certified organic, non-GMO, free-range, Integrated Pest Management, pesticide-free, and certified Free Trade.

In these times of growing competition for our natural food dollars, from behemoths like Whole Foods owned by Amazon billionaire, Jeff Bezos, and Sprouts owned by Walmart billionaires, the Walton family, please do everything you can to support our local community food cooperative and keep our money at home for a thriving New Mexico! Any perceived cost savings from buying from multinational corporations or online warehouses are counteracted by the destruction of the environment, worker abuse, lobbying corruption of health and safety standards, and diversion of local dollars into out-of-state fortunes than never, ever trickle down.
Learn more about co-ops here.

There is something you can do! Don’t forget to Round-up for Change to benefit Rio Grande Community Farm at The Co-op in April!

Find a La Montañita Food Co-op near you.


MicroFarmers at The Downtown Growers’ Market

Rio Grande Community Farm’s MicroFarm Program is thrilled to be included in this year’s Albuquerque Downtown Growers’ Market! Check out the beautiful produce from our MicroFarmers each last Saturday of the month between May and September!
See you at Robinson Park from 8:00 am to noon!

Proposed Sustainability Improvements: Your Feedback Requested

In collaboration with the City of Albuquerque, we have proposed sustainability improvements at the Rio Grande Community Farm that will allow us to transition to solar energy, cut CO2 emissions by 450 metric tons over the next four years, and improve our customer experience with sanitation. If you haven’t given us your feedback about the proposals, we encourage you to do so today!
Learn more on our website

Do you approve of these proposed improvements?
We would love to hear your thoughts and encourage you to respond to our survey where you will find more detailed information. You can also donate to support this game changing project due for completion in 2025.

Respond to our survey here

New Signs Installed

Colorful new signs at North and South entrances to The Farm include our organization’s new Purpose Statement and Core Values: COMMUNITY, EDUCATION, SUSTAINABILITY, and CELEBRATION! There is a QR code that takes visitors to our website, as well as our phone number and address for improved communication.

Volunteer Opportunities for April

If you have wanted to Volunteer at Rio Grande Community Farm, Spring is a great time to get started! Consider helping on these projects in April:4/5: Plant peas, carrots, and radishes

4/3: Plant a cover crop in the orchards
4/9 and 10: Spray Johnson-Su fungal-dominant compost on Fields
4/13: Annual Spring Plant Sale (everyone)
Plant new and feed established orchard trees and hedgerows
4/30: Harvest carrots, green garlic, radishes, asparagus, and leafy greens

Meet at 10:00 am at 1701 Montaño Rd NW Albuquerque, NM 87107 (turn on Tierra Viva Pl NW and park in the lot on your left. Walk to the Red Barn on your right.) All activities end at noon.

  • Please bring gloves, hat with a brim, sunblock, and water bottle.
  • Please read and follow these safety guidelines.

Volunteer Program
As a Volunteer for Rio Grande Community Farm, you can participate on a regular weekly schedule basis, or opt to be contacted by the project. After 24 hours of service, you become a Member with associated benefits! If you would like someone to reach out to you, please fill out our Volunteer Interest Survey.

Classes & Workshops

With Rich Adeyemi, Head Farmer & Educator

Two modules (4 hours in April and 4 hours in May) for a total of 8 hours of in-depth instruction to inspire and challenge you to begin or scale-up your own garden!

Module I: The Essentials
SAT April 6 & SUN April 7, 2024
4:00 6:00 PM

-Why Grow Your Own Food?
-Local Food System vs Industrial Food System
-Garden Design & Style
-Gardener’s Growing Zone
-Preparing to Grow – Time, Tools, & Working with Nature

Module II: The Building Blocks
(Prerequisite: Module I)
SAT May 3 & SUN May 4, 2024
4:00 6:00 PM

-Crop Planning & Crop Calendar
-Seed Starting and Nursery Management
-Pest & Weed Management in Urban Gardens
-Optimizing Soil Health
-Garden Irrigation Techniques


SATURDAY, April 13, 2024

9:00 am 4:00 pm

When you pick up some beautiful pesticide-free flower and vegetable starts at our annual Spring Plant Sale, our resident Albuquerque Master Gardeners welcome your plant care questions! From 1701 Montaño Rd NW, turn on on Tierra Viva Pl NW and park in the parking lot to your left.


With Chief Engineer, Brian Naughton

9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Radiant floor heating, hot water, and electrical systems are on display in this experimental trailer collaboration between New Mexico Solar Energy Association, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and the ACE Leadership High School. Check it out at our Spring Plant Sale event!

One Gardener to Another

By AJ Armijo
Community Gardener
Rio Grande Community Farm

Since the beginning of 2020, I have been container gardening on my small patio in a very fancy, expensive vertical grower, a couple of raised beds, and inside with hydroponic growers with mixed success. I found the process enjoyable, from selecting seeds, growing seedlings, hardening them off, and then transplanting them to their respective homes. Some did better than others, which left me a little frustrated and searching for ideas or answers on what I could do better or what other gardening methods might be more successful and cost-effective.

The simple conclusion was that I needed a garden space that would allow me to grow directly in the ground so I could compare. Then, in January of 2023, I saw the sign to rent a garden plot one day when driving by the Rio Grande Community Farm and immediately investigated. It was exactly what I was looking for. At orientation, I was so excited with what the Community Garden offered as a grower and the beautiful environment, along with the potential to grow, that I felt like one garden plot (150 sq ft) needed to be bigger for all my ideas – I immediately rented two garden plots for a fraction of the price of my expensive vertical garden and hydroponic growers.

Growing in the Community Garden this past year has come with plenty of challenges (as all gardens do), but it has lived up to my expectations and then some. I’ve met many interesting people who came to the Community Garden from all over the country and world who all share a common interest in gardening, as well as love and appreciation for the open fields, the wildlife it attracts, including the sand hill cranes, and other birds, and the photogenic Sandia Mountains to the East. I’ve had many conversations with curious walkers, birders, and explorers eager to ask me questions about the community garden, what I’m growing in my garden plots, and the different things they see around the Community Farm. Fellow gardeners have given me lots of helpful advice from their experiences and plants, materials, and fruits and vegetables from their harvests.

I’ve learned quite a lot this past year, from the importance of planning and succession planting to the value of keeping plants cool and watered properly and keeping up with weeding and using flowers like calendula and marigolds for organic pest management that work in harmony with nature. Besides dedication, commitment, and hard work, the biggest lesson the garden has taught me is to appreciate and find creative ways to use all my harvest. Along with preserving and eliminating waste in the process, I learned how to can, dehydrate, pickle, preserve, and freeze like our grandparents used to. This has expanded my interest in the idea of food sovereignty and an even greater appreciation for the Community Farm and how they provide a public space in which I can practice these beliefs and goals either through the smaller-scale community garden plots or the larger grower space available through the MicroFarm Program (1/8 acre or 5445 sq ft) which can allow a grower to produce commercially.

I hope that others, especially those who are still growing in small spaces, containers, or simply on their own, will come and see all that the Rio Grande Community Farm provides and get involved in one of the many, many different programs or fundraising opportunities offered year-round by the Community Farm, because there is a lot to learn and grow, and new friends to make along the way.

Remote Sensing Project with CNM

Rio Grande Community Farm is fortunate to be partnering with Morgan Cartwright from CNM’s programs on Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Geographic Information Technology who will be performing multiple flights of our fields with a Mavic 3M drone equipped with a multi spectral camera that allows for analyzing such information as vegetative health and growth cycles via a Normalized Differential Red-Edge Index (NDRE), a Soil Adjusted Index (Savi/ATSAVI), and several other important indices.

Mavic 3M Drone
The raw data (Multispectral imagery) and processed data (reflectance maps and colorized indices) will be freely available for educational use at CNM as well as anyone else interested in obtaining a copy. Morgan plans to use this data both as a means to help educate other students on the agronomic and agricultural uses of multispectral data and as a final project for his last class in remote sensing.
Morgan will be flying the drone monthly throughout the growing season to measure temporal changes. He will launch at noon (Multispectral nadir 90° perpendicular to the ground) because the imagery works best with the fewest shadows cast by the sun. The Community Farm can use this data to observe climate impacts, growth cycles, spot treat areas for soil nutrients, water stress, vermin/pest related stress, and other factors. Another educational collaboration we deeply value!

A Case for Soil Health, Part II

by Rich Adeyemi
Head Farmer & Educator
Master Composter
Rio Grande Community Farm

The following article is a continuation of the article published in the February 2024 Newsletter (Part I accessed here.)

Compost, mulch, green manure, animal manure, and leaf mold are a few practices we can adopt to improve soil health:

Composting is a natural process in which microorganisms and earthworms convert organic matter from plants and animals into a rich plant food called humus. Humus, when complete, looks like soil and is rich in vital nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen.

The composting process occurs in nature as dead leaves and other plant material combine with animal waste, soil, air, and water to form a natural fertilizer that enriches top soils and promotes plant growth. While this process occurs naturally in the environment, you can make your own compost using everyday biodegradable waste generated in your household. Materials such as shredded paper, cardboard, dry leaves, egg shell, coffee grounds, food scraps, grass clippings, and animal manure can all be composted. Composting is a cheaper and safer alternative to building soil health than chemical fertilizers. Composting plays very important roles in building soil health, some of which include:

  • Improving soil structure – heavy and clay-like soil drains better with the addition of compost while loose and sandy soil can bind together, thereby enhancing their abilities to hold on to moisture and nutrients. Whatever your soil structure, compost is a great additive for improving it.
  • Increasing soil biodiversity – Naturally, a good soil is a diverse environment teeming with decomposers (fungi, bacteria, worms, tiny creatures), producers and consumers living together in an interconnected web. Compost is also a perfect environment for these organisms. When compost is added to the soil, the biodiversity of the soil is enhanced. Compost provides ideal conditions for soil microorganisms to multiply because it offers them abundant raw materials to work on and an increased air and moisture in the soil.
  • Moderating soil pH – Is your soil too acidic or too alkaline? Compost is a perfect additive that serves as buffer to your soil.
  • Improving fertility – I’m yet to meet a farmer or gardener that doesn’t talk about how to improve soil fertility. While there are many options – some good and some dangerous – compost is a cheap, safe and easy to make option that anyone can make irrespective of space. Although not all compost are created equally depending on what went into its making, most compost offers some of the essential micronutrients that feed the soil, which in turn feeds the plant.

Mulch is mostly used to keep weeds at bay and protect soil from temperature extremes. It acts as a soil insulator, protecting the soil from rapid changes in temperature and moisture. Mulch keeps temperature a little cooler in summer and a little warmer in winter. If you live in dry climate, mulching is vitally important to preserve soil moisture. While mulch is a source of soil organic matter and nutrients as they decompose, it is also good to supplement the nutrient in mulch by pushing back the mulch to create an opening and then spread some compost or other organic soil amendment beneath it.

Mulch can sometimes create problems if not applied appropriately. Always endeavor to leave some gap between mulch and the base of plants to encourage air circulation and prevent stem rot. In addition, pests like field mice and slugs that like to feed on plant stems and leaves loves the hidden dark underside of mulch so leave the gap in order to monitor what is going on around your plants.

Mulching materials are readily available, and in some cases, for free. Wood chips, cardboard, fall leaves, dry grass clippings, newspaper, pine needles, wood bark, hay, and straw are all excellent materials for mulching.

Green Manures/Cover Crops
Green manures are plants grown for the purpose of feeding soil organism rather than for human or animal consumption or ornament. They are beneficial to soil health and have the characteristics of fixing nitrogen in the soil, soil protection from exposure to wind, sun and rain, erosion prevention, suppression of troublesome weeds, provision of soil organic matter where it is needed and resting the soil to recover from cultivation thereby enhancing fertility.

Choosing a green manure to grow depend on some factors which include: your soil type (green manure differs in climate adaptability and soil conditions), what you want to achieve (for example weed suppression or nitrogen fixation or both), how long you want the soil covered (some mature more quickly than others), what you will plant after the green manure, and the time of the year.
To avoid a problematic situation, do not allow green manures to go to seed before you turn them under or cut them down otherwise they can turn out to become weed. Bear in mind also that perennial green manures may regrow after cutting them down, but they can be eliminated either by hoeing the root out or applying mulch to the soil.

Animal Manure
Traditionally, animal manures are considered and used as source of soil fertility. They can be applied fresh directly to the soil depending on the animal it came from (rabbit is a good example) or can be composted before application. Before using animal manure on your soil, consider what animal it came from, the condition in which the animal was raised, how it was stored before you got it, and the age of the manure. If you raise animal and use their manure on your farm, consider composting them or allow them to rot well before use. By all means, avoid manures from intensive “factory” farms because those animals are usually injected with pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. Although these materials will readily decompose, they will have short-term effect on your soil biology. Instead, try to get from “free range” and less intensive livestock farms, and local stables.

In general, it is best to compost or allow fresh manure to rot well before use because they contain a high concentration of minerals which can harm the soil, pollute groundwater and/or burn plants.

For those who wish to avoid animal products, note that it is not a requisite for building soil health. Soil health can equally be built using the other means described above.

Leaf Mold
Leaf mold is the rich, dark material that is left when leaves that fall from trees in autumn are allowed to decay on the ground. Forest floors are perfect examples of soil that is rich with leaf mold which is an excellent soil conditioner. Just as in nature, leaf mold can actually be made on your farm or in your garden. All you need is a supply of fall leaves, a container to hold the leaves from blowing away, water, air, and time. To produce leaf mold, soak the leaves in water to make them moist, stuff the leaves into a container or stack them on the ground somewhere and leave the pile to decay. The decomposition may take between nine months to two years before you can produce a usable batch.

Common containers used for making leaf mold include wire mesh folded around four wooden posts to form a container, barrels, and large trash bags. Make sure that holes are poked in the barrel and the trash bags to allow for free flow of air. If you live in an arid area, make sure that you cover the inner wall of the wire mesh with a tarp poked with holes to avoid excessive dryness. You can check the pile from time to time to ensure it doesn’t dry out. If it does dry out, spritz it with water which will allow the microbes to do their job.

Leaf mold can be used as moisture-retaining mulch, it can be added to loam soil for use as top dressing in the garden or container plants.

The Spring Equinox

by Nathan Kunkle

Rio Grande Community Farm Social Work Intern

The Spring Equinox, which fell on March 19 this year, signals the shift from winter to spring. This change brings longer days and warmer weather, which is excellent news for farmers and nature. Farmers have long seen the Spring Equinox as a crucial time to start planting and growing crops. As the days lengthen and the sun’s rays intensify, temperatures rise. This change signals plants that they must awaken from their winter slumber and begin their growth cycle. This process is crucial for plants as it helps them determine the right time to flower and bear fruit, a phenomenon directly influenced by the sun’s increasing strength.

It’s a significant event in the agricultural calendar that signals farmers to start preparing their fields for planting. The longer daylight hours give plants more energy for growth, and the warmer temperatures and thawing soils create favorable conditions for sowing and transplanting seedlings. This tradition is not new; many agricultural societies, including the ancient Maya and Egyptians, used the spring equinox to plan their planting and farming rituals, underscoring its historical importance.

Across the globe, festivals such as Nowruz in Iran, Holi in India, and Ostara in pagan traditions mark the renewal of life and fertility. These celebrations often include rituals and ceremonies centered around planting, growth, and abundance. Interestingly, even in modern times, farmers rely on the changing seasons and celestial events like the spring equinox to guide their planting schedules and crop management practices, showcasing the enduring relevance of these age-old traditions.

Inform Our Farm Design

We would love the input of our community about what you would like to see taking place on the Rio Grande Community Farm in terms of land use and programming as we embark on planning for a cohesive Farm Design that supports our long-range organizational strategy. We have developed a community survey to gather your recommendations for this project so get creative with it!


Farming for Profit: Strategies to Create a Successful and Sustainable Farm

 by Anya Willis

If you’ve been dreaming of turning your love of farming into a business, there’s never been a better time to make it a reality. With the growing demand for locally sourced, organic produce and sustainable farming practices, starting a farm is not only a great way to live off the land, but also a lucrative business venture. But before you quit your day job and start plowing the fields, there are some key steps to take toward building a successful farm and monetizing it.

Start a Business

Formalizing your small farm as a business from the start can offer several advantages. It provides a clear structure for your operations and can make it easier to manage finances, taxes, and legal matters. Additionally, registering your business can open up opportunities for grants, loans, and other forms of financial assistance designed specifically for agricultural businesses.

Creating a limited liability company for your farm is a strategic move to safeguard your personal assets from your business obligations. An LLC offers legal protection by separating your personal finances from those of your business, ensuring that your personal property remains secure in the event of business liabilities or debts. Additionally, an LLC confers an advantageous tax structure, often resulting in favorable tax treatment that can benefit your financial health.

Look for Ways to Optimize Your Land

Treehugger notes that the first step in creating a successful farm is to optimise your land for crops and animals. Whether you’re starting from scratch with raw land or working with an existing property, it’s important to assess the soil quality, water source, and topography of your land to determine what crops or livestock will work best. Once you’ve determined what types of plants and animals will thrive on your land, invest in high-quality seeds, plants, and animals to ensure a healthy harvest.

Farm Survey Before Purchasing

Before purchasing raw land for a farm, it is recommended to get the property surveyed. This can help avoid boundary disputes with neighbors and identify any potential hazards or limitations of the land. A surveyor can provide a detailed report outlining the boundaries of your land as well as any potential issues that may arise.

Study Business Practices

Going back to school to earn a business degree online offers a unique opportunity to enhance your business acumen without stepping away from your current commitments. For those operating a farm, this means you can continue your agricultural activities while gaining valuable knowledge and skills that can help grow your business. Online education provides the flexibility needed to balance work, family, and studies, allowing you to learn at your own pace and on your own schedule.

Whether you’re looking to improve your marketing strategies, financial management, or operational efficiencies, an online business degree can equip you with the tools necessary for success. For anyone looking to advance their career and business capabilities without sacrificing their current lifestyle, this path is worth it to explore further.

Produce Eggs for Sale and Consumption

Chickens and More points out that raising chickens for eggs on your small farm can be a rewarding and practical endeavor. Not only will you have a steady supply of fresh, organic eggs, but chickens also help control pests and provide rich manure that can improve soil health. Before starting, it’s important to research the best breeds for egg production and understand their care requirements. Building a secure coop and providing a balanced diet are essential for their health and productivity. Regular health checks and proper hygiene practices can help prevent diseases and ensure a healthy flock.

Get Familiar with Marketing Practices

Marketing your farm effectively is crucial for attracting customers and building your brand. One creative and impactful idea is to create posters to hang around town, which can catch the eye of potential customers and spread the word about your farm’s products and services. With the vast array of online templates available, designing an eye-catching poster has become more accessible than ever.

After selecting a template that resonates with your farm’s aesthetic, you can personalize it by adding your own logo, choosing fonts that reflect your brand, and most importantly, you can use images to enhance its appeal. This customization allows you to convey the unique qualities of your farm, be it fresh produce, organic practices, or community events. A well-designed poster not only serves as an effective marketing tool but also strengthens your farm’s identity in the local community.

Join a Co-op

One of the best ways to increase the visibility of your farm and connect with other farmers in your area is to join a co-op. A co-op is a group of farmers who band together to sell their products collectively, sharing marketing and distribution costs and increasing their overall bargaining power. This can be especially useful for smaller farms that may not have the resources to market or distribute their products independently.

Start Utilizing Sustainable Practices

The farming industry is beginning to recognize the vital importance of sustainability, as more consumers seek out environmentally friendly products. Utilizing sustainable practices such as crop rotation, natural pest control, and water conservation can significantly reduce your impact on the environment while also appealing to sustainability-minded customers. Embracing these practices can help ensure the long-term success of your farming business.

Offer Your Farm for Events

Another way to monetize your farm is by offering it as a venue for events such as weddings, corporate retreats, and festivals. This can provide an additional stream of income while also showcasing your farm to potential customers. Make sure to consider any necessary permits or zoning restrictions before hosting events on your property.

Creating a successful farm and turning it into a profitable business requires careful planning, hard work, and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt. By starting a business, optimizing your land for crops and animals, marketing with brochures, and thinking creatively about seasonal opportunities, you can build a thriving farm that meets the growing demand for locally sourced, organic products.


What To Watch

Seed: The Untold Story

By Nathan Kunkle

Let’s confront a startling reality: 94% of the world’s seed varieties have vanished in the last century. The documentary ‘Seed: The Untold Story’ delves deep into the industrialization of agriculture and its profound impact on seed sovereignty. It vividly portrays how the dominance of large corporations in seed production has led to the erosion of traditional seed varieties and the marginalization of small-scale farmers. This has set off a decline in biodiversity and the spread of monoculture, with far-reaching implications for our food and environment.

The film presents a compelling narrative of individuals fighting to reclaim seed sovereignty and preserve heirloom varieties. Their stories can reshape our perspectives on food and the environment. It is a rallying cry to support sustainable and local farming practices.

‘Seed’ is a captivating and informative exploration of seed sovereignty’s significance and the pressing need for a more equitable and ecological food system. It underscores individuals’ transformative potential to initiate change and delivers a powerful call to action, urging viewers to positively impact their communities. The film is available to stream for free on Peacock or for purchase on other streaming apps. Here is the trailer.

March 2024 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments


  • Rio Grande Community Farm Offered More Land
  • Invitation to Inform our Farm Design
  • Meet Our Esteemed Indigenous Scholarship Council
  • Proposed Sustainability Improvements at The Farm
  • Your Feedback on Proposed Imrovements Requested
  • SunChaser Solar Education Trailer Comes Home
  • Volunteer Opportunities at The Farm
  • Upcoming Classes & Workshops
  • Spring Flower Subscriptions with Lucky Dirt Farms
  • Discovering New Mexico’s Agricultural History
  • Green Oasis: Revolutionizing Your Garden for Water Efficiency
  • What to Watch: Living in A Food Desert

Rio Grande Community Farm Offered More Land

In February, the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division called a meeting with Board President Bruce Milne and Executive Director Robyn Wagoner to discuss awarding Rio Grande Community Farm 20 additional acres of Los Poblanos Open Space land. After the Community Farm presented our tentative plans for the new fields and our planned improvements to the exiting land and facilities over the next five years, the Dave Simon, Director of the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department, was clear that he was confident the Community Farm was the best group for the job!

Invitation to Inform Our Farm Design
Our new contract increases the lands we manage from 27 to 47 acres and we would love the input of our community about what you would like to see taking place on the Rio Grande Community Farm in terms of land use and programming as we embark on planning for a cohesive Farm Design that supports our long-range organizational strategy. We have developed a community survey to gather your recommendations for this project so get creative with it!


Meet Our Esteemed Indigenous Scholarship Advisory Council (ISAC)

Rio Grande Community Farm is excited to introduce our Indigenous Scholarship Advisory Council. The Council will guide our Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships Program, offering support and recommendations for administering the scholarships, representing our scholarship recipients in any negotiations with the organization if requested, and helping to expand the reach and impact of the program.

Trevor Goodluck (Top)
Trevor is Dinè and grew up in a small reservation town in Arizona. He has lived in Albuquerque since 2009. Trevor’s passion is to create a non-profit that will help Indigenous people rediscover, reclaim, and reinvigorate their communities with the foods of their ancestors. Additionally, he is looking to create a financial program that can help Indigenous farmers with operation costs and loan programs. He currently works with a local non-profit in public education and outreach.
Joshuaa Allison-Burbank (Right)
Joshuaa is Diné and grew up in Tohatchi, NM which is on the Navajo Nation. His mother’s side are dryland farmers. His father’s side is Acoma Pueblo and uses the acequia irrigation system. He uses both irrigation traditions at his +Rainbow Farms and is working on adapting the seeds to the heat, water shortage, and bugs. Josh attended the University of Kansas where he received his MA and PhD in speech-language pathology.

James Sumpter (Left)
James is a citizen of the Navajo Nation hailing from the Tselani-Cottonwood Chapter. James holds a Bachelors of Science in Engineering earned at Fort Lewis College and currently resides in the Albuquerque area employed as an engineer in the aerospace industry. Born and raised on the nation, James understands the importance of tribal food systems and its connection to tribal sovereignty and self-determination. James has an extensive background in volunteering at the tribal community level which includes water resource development, tribal corn production, and community centered resource development.

Next month, meet our Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarship recipients!

Proposed Sustainability Improvements at The Farm

Sustainability is one of Rio Grande Community Farm’s core values and transitioning to solar energy has long been a goal of the organization.We are thrilled that the City of Albuquerque is supportive of our request for a full solar conversion, along with other environmental and functional improvements to our barnyard and well house area on Los Poblanos Open Space. Since the barn was not built to hold the weight of the panels, we are proposing two structures be erected in the barnyard that will be engineered to handle this weight while serving important farm functions. We are also proposing two small outbuildings that each house an incinerating toilet.

In addition to the City’s support for these proposals, we need to demonstrate public support, secure the permits, and raise the funds – estimated at $150,000 over the next 18 months.

Proposal 1: Solar Workshop
It is becoming increasingly necessary to utilize the existing barn as a meeting and educational space, yet the heat, dust, and noise from power tools is now competing with our educational priorities. In addition, the existing barn’s wooden construction makes it unsafe to use for welding. A metal workshop where power tool use and welding can safely occur in any weather and safely away from students and volunteers is an absolute necessity for any working farm.

Proposal 2: Solar Storage Structure
The Farm needs a three-sided structure that can adequately shelter the hay soon to be harvested from the 20 additional acres the City has recently entrusted us to manage. This proposed arrangement will ensure the quality of the hay while keeping the barnyard safer and tidier. Instead of piles of hay covered with blowing tarps scattered throughout the area, the baled forage will be stacked in one place and protected from the elements.

Proposal 3: Outbuildings
Both customer service and sustainability on the Farm can improve drastically with the construction of two small outbuildings that will contain incinerating toilets, replacing the expensive and ecologically damaging chemical toilets the City has been renting at the cost of over $40,000 a year. These incinerating toilets use no water and produce no odors, leaving a completely sterile tray of ashes instead of 100 gallons of biocide infused sewage to treat and dispose of each week. One outbuilding will be located in the barnyard and one will be located next to the well house in Field 4.

Environmental Impact
These infrastructure improvements are long overdue and will revolutionize educational opportunities, customer comfort, and maintenance work in addition to reducing the Farm’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2,812 metric tons over the next 25 years.

Your Feedback on Proposed Improvements Requested
We would love to hear your thoughts on these proposals, and encourage you to respond to our survey. You can also donate to support this game changing project due for completion in 2025.


SunChaser Solar Education Trailer Comes Home

Rio Grande Community Farm is thrilled to be the new home of the SunChaser 2k22 solar education trailer built by the New Mexico Solar Energy Association (NMSEA). This demonstration trailer will live at Rio Grande Community Farm and become a feature of our sustainable agriculture education program. The Sun Chaser is designed to be an educational tool and all water system piping and electrical system circuitry can be viewed through a plexiglass covering.

The first SunChaser was built over 30 years ago, and in 2022, NMSEA decided to create a new Sun Chaser to demonstrate how solar energy can be used in conjunction with more modern technologies. ACE Leadership High School in Albuquerque built the body of the new trailer, and a New Mexico Tech design team was tasked with designing the water and electrical systems in fall of 2022.

Partnering with NMSEA on the SunChaser is another example of Rio Grande Community Farm’s commitment to sustainability education. Stay tuned for educational opportunities involving the SunChaser coming soon!

Volunteer Opportunities for March at Rio Grande Community Farm

If you have wanted to Volunteer at Rio Grande Community Farm, now is a great time to get started. You can show up to events like the ones listed below, or participate on a regular weekly basis. If you would like someone to reach out to you and place you on the Volunteer Schedule, or contact you with projects, please fill out our Volunteer Interest Survey.


10 AM -12 PM

Sheet mulching, planting starts, and sowing seeds.
Meet at the green well house.
Please email Meg at if you are coming.

10 – 11:30 AM
Meet at he Red Barn. Transplanting will take place inside the Greenhouse.

10 – 11:30 AM
Meet at he Red Barn. Transplanting will take place inside the Greenhouse.

10 AM – 12 PM

Park by Alvarado Elementary School off of Solar Road.

10 – 11:30 AM
Meet at he Red Barn. Transplanting will take place inside the Greenhouse.

10 AM – 12 PM

Meet at the Red Barn and walk to the compost area.

10 AM – 12 PM
Meet at the green well house.
Please email Meg at if you are coming.

Upcoming Classes & Workshops

Classes & Workshops Page

Try a Splendid Spring Flower Subscription with Lucky Dirt Farms

Spring is in the air! We are Lucky Dirt Farms, a cut flower and produce farm and participants in the Rio Grande Community Farm MicroFarm Program. We are at the start of our 3rd growing season at the Community Farm and have been hard at work all winter to be able to bring spring flowers to you and yours. We can’t wait to share them with you!

We’d like to gauge community interest in a spring flower bouquet subscription this year- similar to a veggie CSA box, but with fresh local flower bouquets! As a part of our flower subscription, members would pay upfront for several weeks of bouquets. Iin doing so, you would support us as we invest in the upcoming season. Flower subscriptions are one of the best ways you can support our small farm. Your payment enables us to purchase new and exciting seed varieties, restock supplies, build new infrastructure and keep our farm growing! Spring flower subscriptions would surely make a wonderful Mother’s day gift that keeps on giving!

Please send me an email at if you think you would be interested in participating in a spring bouquet subscription this year so we can gauge community interest or if you’d like to be added to our newsletter to stay connected and get a preview of what’s blooming!

Engaging Our Community: Open Board Committee Seats

If you love your community and your Community the Farm, you may want to consider volunteering on one or more empowered Committees of the Board to develop and actively implement policies and practices to achieve our purpose. We’re seeking Community Representatives on the following committees:

  • Engagement Committee
    Help guide our Volunteer Program!
  • Fundraising Committee
    Help raise money for our programs and operations!
  • Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee
    Help support food justice initiatives and anti-oppression work!
  • Programs Committee
    Help develop new classes and guide our events!
Learn More

Exploring New Mexico’s Agricultural History

by Nathan Kunkle
Social Work Intern

Rio Grande Community Farm

Farming plays a significant role in New Mexico’s cultural identity. It connects present-day residents to the rich history of ancestral cultures cultivating the land for centuries. The agricultural heritage of New Mexico is closely intertwined with the diverse traditions of Indigenous peoples, Spanish settlers, and later immigrant communities. Each group has left a lasting impact on the region’s farming practices and cultural identity.

Indigenous communities, such as the Pueblo, Apache, and Navajo, have sustained themselves for millennia by practicing agriculture in harmony with the desert landscape. Their cultivation of staple crops, such as corn, beans, and squash, is a testament to their profound understanding of the region’s unique ecology and climatic challenges. These communities have developed and refined techniques such as dry farming and intricate irrigation systems, passed down through generations as a sacred inheritance. Their approach to agriculture serves as a model for sustainable and responsible land use and reminds us of the importance of respecting and learning from the wisdom of indigenous peoples.

In the 16th century, Spanish colonists arrived in New Mexico and brought new agricultural practices, crops, and livestock. This greatly enriched the farming traditions of the region. The Spanish introduced wheat, fruit trees, and grapes to the area, establishing vineyards and orchards that thrived in the arid climate. Today, the legacy of Spanish colonial agriculture can still be seen in the historic acequias, which are communal irrigation ditches that continue to provide water for crops and communities across the state.

Following the Spanish colonization, New Mexico became a melting pot of cultural exchange. The European, Native American, and Mexican influences shaped the region’s agricultural landscape. Today, the legacy of this multicultural heritage is evident in the vibrant tapestry of crops, cuisine, and farming festivals that define New Mexico’s cultural identity.

Farming in New Mexico is a true testament to the resilience and adaptability of its inhabitants in the face of environmental challenges and socio-political changes. Despite the challenges posed by drought and water scarcity, as well as the pressures of modernization and urbanization, the farmers of New Mexico continue to rely on their ancestral wisdom and innovative techniques to sustain their livelihoods and preserve their cultural heritage. Their unwavering commitment to their craft is a source of inspiration for us all.

New Mexicans have a deep respect for their land and the legacy of their ancestors. Cultivating the land with age-old traditions ensures that the land is taken care of and preserved for future generations. Amidst the rugged beauty of the desert landscape, they plant and harvest with a timeless connection to the past. They celebrated the enduring spirit of resilience, community, and reverence for the land that has defined New Mexico’s agricultural heritage for centuries. It’s a beautiful way of life that embodies sustainability and preservation values.

What To Watch: Living in a Food Desert

By Nathan Kunkle

“Living in a Food Desert” is a thought-provoking documentary that takes a deep dive into one of the most pressing issues facing many communities worldwide – food deserts. This eye-opening film, directed by Sarah Johnson, offers a poignant and insightful look into the harsh realities of living in areas where access to nutritious food is severely limited. Light is shed on the systemic inequalities perpetuating food deserts through compelling interviews, striking visuals, and poignant narratives. Johnson skillfully captures the struggles of individuals and families who must navigate through a landscape devoid of supermarkets and grocery stores, where fast food chains and convenience stores reign supreme.

Exploring the socioeconomic factors contributing to food deserts, the film highlights how poverty, racial segregation, and urban planning policies intersect to create environments where residents are left with few healthy food options. It also examines the profound impact of food deserts on public health, revealing alarming statistics about the prevalence of diet-related diseases in affected areas. The documentary showcases grassroots efforts and community initiatives to address food insecurity and promote food justice, inspiring viewers to act and become agents of positive transformation in their communities. It prompts reflection on privilege and the need to dismantle systemic barriers perpetuating inequality.

You can watch the documentary on YouTube.

February 2024 Newsletter

By NewsNo Comments


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


Learn About Our Agrivoltaics Project at Agri-Nature Center Presentation

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

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

Unearthing The Educational Value of Farming For Your Child

By Anya Willis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defining Regenerative Agriculture

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Case for Soil Health

by Rich Adeyemi
Head Farmer & Educator
Rio Grande Community Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Start a Worm Bin

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

…to be continued

What Exactly Is The Potential of Rio Grande Community Farm

by Bruce Milne
Board President  

Rio Grande Community Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discovering Farm Therapy

by Nathan Kunkle
Social Work Intern

Rio Grande Community Farm

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

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

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

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

Empowering Our Community

Seeking Board Committee Members

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

Board Committees:

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

Make An Impact

Seeking Indigenous Scholarship Advisors

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

Explore New Opportunities

Indigenous Urban Grower Scholarships

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

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

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

Learn More Here

Classes & Workshops


Worm Compost & Soil Health

with Rich Adeyemi, Master Composter


9:00 11:00 am  (weather dependent)

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

RSVP to:



Seed Saving: Plan Ahead

11:00 am – 2:00 pm

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

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





Knife Sharpening Workshop

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

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





Introduction to Welding

2:00 4:00 pm

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


What to Watch

Food Fighter

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

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

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

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 | (505) 308.4987


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!


  • 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.

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 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)?


Indigenous Scholarship Advisory Council


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.


  • 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 by February 1st, 2024. Please include “Indigenous Scholarship Advisor” in the subject line.


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.



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.


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


  • 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.





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.


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


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.



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 for questions.

Join today through our GiveButter site


Volunteer On The Farm

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


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!



Classes & Workshops:



Composting Workshop

(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:



Introduction to Welding

2:00 4:00 pm

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





Seed Saving Workshop

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.


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.


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


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

You’re invited to

Rio Grande Community Farm’s


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!


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
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.


(Estimated time: 5 – 10 minutes)


Winter Offerings

Classes & Workshops:


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



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:




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: 


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!

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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


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.”  


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

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.

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.”

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!

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

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.


(Estimated time: 5 – 10 minutes)


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


Classes & Workshops

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

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

Compressors & Air Tools Hands-on Workshop

Registration is mandatory. Only 15 spots available.

Saturday, Dec 2nd

1 pm-3:30 pm

Register at:


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.”


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 (,  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.


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!

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)


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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.)



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.

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!


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

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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!


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)
To save your spot, email


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
To save your spot, email


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


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
To save your spot, email


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.”


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.





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:








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:





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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:

and by reading our Rio Grande Community Farm 2022 Impact Report

A flag in a field

May 2023 Newsletter

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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 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
  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
  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)
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.