Today I made the journey to Corrales to give the Youth Conservation Corp program a presentation as part of AIRE’s program offerings. This is the second time we presented to them, last year I spent a day with this YCC group to give a presentation about Acequia History and Ecology in the morning followed by a presentation and hands-on activities around seeds, crop diversity, and seed saving after lunch. This year the group was interested in hearing about how to build an horno, climate change and food security, and Permaculture.
After the presentations I accompanied the group to their farm, a truly impressive acre in the heart of Corrales. This land is actually owned by the Village of Corrales and includes another 4 acres that are irrigated by the local acequia. Last year, in their first year of operation, they produced over a ton of vegetables that were sold at the local farmers’ market. Given that years’ success and experience, the group expects they will harvest over 5 tons of vegetables this year. They had several varieties of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, amaranth, onions, and even okra, among other crops. They work from 6 AM to noon with a couple of evenings to harvest for farmers’ market the next morning. They also produce several yards of compost a week, though I did not get to see that operation. They make their wages from a grant and are saving all the money from the market to buy a tractor so they can move onto cultivation of the other 4 acres. They have an interest in producing more staple crops like grains and legumes once that happens.
As someone who has been working youth-in-agriculture initiatives for over 15 years, I am really impressed with the success of this project in such a short amount of time. It is truly exemplary. I think much of the credit for their success goes to their lead facilitator, Mike Garcia, who is an acequiero from the village of San Ysidro. We are hoping to join up with them in the future to do a nixtamal workshop with their blue corn harvest when it comes in.