Written by Molly Jackson-Nielson
San Juan Soil & Water Conservation
This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). Health Councils were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities.
Farm Farmington! is an initiative of the San Juan Soil & Water Conservation District to support and grow urban and community agriculture in the tri-cities and beyond. We are working with community gardens, school gardens, and others to promote the metro area as an urban agriculture hub. Whether you have never gardened in your life or grew up on a farm, there are plenty of ways to get involved with this initiative. You can volunteer, join a community garden, become a Master Gardener, grow vegetables in your backyard or on your porch, start a garden at your school or organization, donate money or materials, or do something we haven’t thought of yet. Email or call the San Juan Soil & Water Conservation District at (505) 334-3090 x5 for more information.
There are a number of upcoming workshops and events related to community and urban agriculture in the area. One that we are very excited about is a composting workshop we are hosting at First Baptist Church – Bloomfield on Saturday, April 7th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn about home composting basics and improving desert soils from Bernalillo County Master Composters, as well as other methods used by locals. We will also have a composting demonstration build at the FBC-Bloomfield Community Garden, located next to the church. There will be a door prize giveaway of compost and worm castings for attendees who stay for the entire workshop. Email or call for info about additional classes and workshops.
Urban and community agriculture won’t solve all of the challenges we face with our modern food system, but they are essential components of a healthy and sustainable food system. These forms of agriculture – like backyard gardens, community gardens, school gardens, and porch gardens – can supplement our regular food intake to our benefit, and to the benefit of the food system as a whole. Just-harvested food tastes better and contains more nutrients, and can be a low-cost option for low-income families. When it’s done in community, it brings people together around the land. And it tends to use less fuel and fewer chemicals, and builds better soil. Finally, it provides pollinator habitat and promotes the preservation of locally adapted seeds.
The San Juan River watershed has been an agricultural region for thousands of years, and continues to be to this day. Plentiful surface water and sunshine, and a decent growing season, provide us with an excellent climate for many crops. Pueblo peoples and later Navajo people farmed – and continue to farm – in this region. Later, Spanish and Anglo colonizers did the same. Agriculture is also reflected in the name of Farmington, the biggest city in the Four Corners. While it is no longer the economic dominator in our region, it is an integral thread of the cultural and social fabric. Agriculture might change what it looks like, but it isn’t going anywhere.
2018 March 06
KSJE 90.9 FM
The Scott Michlin Morning Program
Interview with Molly Jackson-Nielson