A Taos non-profit organization Agriculture Implementation Research & Education (AIRE) is coordinating a workshop in the basics of Permaculture and arid-lands agriculture. The workshop is a collaboration between AIRE, the National Immigrant Farming Initiative (NIFI), the Los Jardineros Garden Club, and the Taos Charter School. It will be held on Saturday, May 6 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the Taos Charter School located at 1303 Paseo del Cañon East. The workshop is to prepare a “three-sisters” garden site in the arroyo on the school grounds for the students of the School to plant in late May.
Jeremy Jones, principal of the Taos Charter School, is excited about the workshop noting that a garden, in combination with the trees that were pruned last month, provide an opportunity for students to learn about and experience local food while engaging in hands-on education. Miguel Santistevan will take the lead in the workshop and has been practicing Permaculture and acequia agriculture for over 20 years.
Miguel Santistevan, Executive Director of AIRE, was awarded a grant from the Los Jardineros Garden Club for the establishment of a “three sisters” garden to be located on the grounds of the Taos Charter School. The “three sisters” method of farming is planting corn, beans, and squash together in an arrangement where all the crops compliment each other’s needs. Corn provides structure for the beans to trellis and benefits from the nitrogen provided by the beans. Squash helps retain moisture and suppress weeds for the corn and bean plants. The site in the arroyo at Taos Charter School likely has enough moisture to support plant growth given that it receives runoff from the surrounding area and the rooftop of the School.
NIFI is helping new immigrant farmers become successful sustainable farmers through training, advocacy, networking, capacity building, and new projects. Edward Gonzales, outreach coordinator for NIFI, will be assisting with the logistics of the workshop and letting participants know about other agriculture workshops his organization is hosting in the area. Edward grew up practicing traditional agriculture in the acequias as well as in dryland settings known as “secano” or “al temporal” and will be sharing his experience and knowledge around this important agriculture practice.
Miguel is known for initiating the gardens at Parr Field and the Chrysalis Alternative School in addition to hosting visitors at his Permaculture/acequia site known as Sol Feliz Farm. He sees this workshop as an important effort to bring like-minded people together for beautifying the landscape and creating opportunities for local food security while learning about the history and potential of dryland agriculture. “Traditional agriculture has always been characterized by water harvesting on the landscape and making the best use of precipitation for agriculture. This workshop is a chance to teach people about ways of planting and harvesting they might not have considered possible,” says Miguel. More information on future workshops can be found on AIRE’s website, http://www.growfarmers.org.
AIRE’s mission is “To gather the people, plant the fields.”