Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Los Sembradores are training new crops from NM farmers

Copyright © 2021

Each year, apprentice farmers learn how to turn a plot of land in Taos County into flowering fields of spinach, garlic, pumpkins, corn, chili and peas.

The New Mexico Acequia Association is now seeking applicants for the nine month farmer training program called Los Sembradores, which means “the breeders”.

Starting in February, four apprentices from northern New Mexico will be working three days a week on Chicoyole Farm in Chamisal.

Donne Gonzales, a Chamisal farmer who runs the program, said attendees will learn tangible farming skills through a “rounded” farming curriculum.

Aimee Lynn Stearns, who participated in the Los Sembradores program in 2020, inspects her corn concern. (Courtesy of the New Mexico Acequia Association)

“It covers everything from farm and business planning, to selecting and sowing seeds, to growing vegetables and marketing,” she said. “We also do a lot of very traditional teachings, things like making remedios (medicines) and foraging for edible plants.”

With the farm’s two tire houses, growers can start as early as February.

The products are shared with school districts and others in the community.

“Agriculture is in our DNA,” said Gonzales. “Sometimes we just have to go back to the dirt and feel it. We all trust each other and can ask for help, such as borrowing tools or seeds. It’s really important to make these connections. “

Los Sembradores is in its sixth year and has completed more than 20 apprentices.

Paula Garcia, executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association, said the program was a “support system for people passionate about working and protecting the land,” especially young farmers.

Garcia grew up in a farming family who were active in the local Acequia community.

“But when I tried it myself, I wished I could ask my grandfather detailed questions like how deep to plant, how to water, how to use the tractor,” Garcia said. “We need this generation continuity or at least a possibility to give people a teacher or mentor.”

Theresa Davis is a member of the Report for America Corps, a water and environmental researcher for the .

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