Farmers share projects, visions at annual gathering

By Sayrah Namaste, New Mexico Program Co-Director

Our 11th annual Farmer Gathering at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque was one of our best yet. Twenty-six farmers and their families participated from Albuquerque, Española, Chimayo and the tribes of Santo Domingo, Cochiti, Jemez, Acoma, Santa Clara, Taos Pueblo and for the first time, Navajo Nation.

The purpose of the gathering is to provide a space for peer-to-peer learning and build a cooperative network of small-scale sustainable farms across New Mexico which can support each other instead of compete against each other.

The farmers shared photos and inspiring stories of growing food and medicine. Guests from Head Start and the state Farm to Food Bank programs connected with farmers about purchasing from them to feed our communities.

“This is the only time we get together just to talk about farming," one farmer said. "I learn so much and make so many new friends.” Experienced farmers talked about the importance of sharing knowledge, passion, and traditional methods with less experienced farmers.

One farmer shared that adding a pond with frogs reduced the squash bug damage to their crops -- which was very exciting since all the farmers have dealt with the seemingly impossible problem of squash bugs.

“Hearing about all the amazing projects and visions different farmers have in my region is the best part of the AFSC farmer gathering,” said another farmer.

Our evaluator held focus groups during the gathering for farmers to give feedback about the AFSC NM program. We are also grateful that three of our Program Advisory Committee members attended.