This is a recording of the American Friends Service Committee’s Monthly Program Update call from January 12, 2012 with General Secretary Shan Cretin and Pacific Southwest Interim Regional Director Eisha Mason.
They discussed a variety of AFSC programs including the expansion of the New Mexico Farmers’ Project to go state wide, the L.A. Youth Leadership and Community Project, and our immigration work along the border, and recent developments in Arizona on the issue of privatization of prisons.
From 2009-2012, the New Mexico program of AFSC partnered with three community groups in the South Valley of Albuquerque: La Plazita Institute, e-merging communities, and Valle Encantado. AFSC provided year long training to beginning farmers selected by these community partner in organic food production for institutional buyers such as the public schools. The three year program provided nine beginning farmers with comprehensive training, farm infrastructure (such as shared equipment and cold frames for winter production), tools, seeds, and the ability to aggregate product in a farmer network. The community partners provided land, resources, labor, organizational support, and their hearts to the project. Out of this collaboration, the Agri-Cultura Network was created as a mechanism for small organic farmers to aggregate their produce for wholesale and institutional markets. Agri-Cultura Network is one of the few farmer collectives to sell to the Albuquerque Public Schools year round. Initially incubated by AFSC, it is now run by the three community partners and the farmers.