OUR LAND 2: Tracing the Acequia Commons
A Symposium about land transition, continuity, and commons.
NOVEMBER 9-17th 2016
Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico
Films. Talks. Exhibit. Acequia Walk.
Can our regions shift towards food sovereignty?
Can our agrarian systems become more harmonious with their wild habitat?
Can we maintain our traditional commons?
The complete program, speakers bios, schedule and locations are all on the website www.agrariantrust.org/2016symposium (or scroll down to see the full schedule of events)
You can learn about the work of the speakers at the event’s facebook page, where we’ve posted videos, articles, and links.
Speakers include: Mary Wood, Ruth Breach, Rick Prelinger, Kim Stringfellow, Sylvia Rodriguez, Allyson Siwik, Tezozomoc, Eric Holt-Gimenez, Miguel Santiestevan, Devon Pina, Stanley Crawford, and Alex Pino.
Artists include: Sharon Steward, Kim Stringfellow, Emily Volger, Ildi Carlise-Cummings, Kaitlin Bryson, Nancy Dewhurst, Erin Fussell, Bill Gilbert, Andrea Gohl, Ryan Henel, Catherine Harris, Jeanette Hart-Mann, Cecilia McKinnon, Sarah Molina, Hollis Moore, Hamshya Rajkumar, Kacie Smith, Molly Zimmer, Rachel Zollinger, and more!
OUR LAND 2 has a focus on the lessons of the acequia irrigation commons, a 400 year old system that supports dryland agriculture.
WHO: Mary Wood, Rick Prelinger, Kim Stringfellow, Tezozomoc, Devon Pena, Ruth Breach, Stanley Crawford, Wes Jackson, Emily Vogler, Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, Eric Holt Gimenez, Kate Levy… and more
This April, as the communal irrigation ditches known as acequias run with spring melt and farmers carve new furrows into their fields, many northern New Mexico villages will celebrate their annual homecoming. This is the time of the limpia –– the cleaning of the acequia, when water-rights holders and their families gather to haul rocks, dig mud and clear brush, honoring a tradition so old that its followers can only guess at its roots. In some villages, the tradition has died out as young people move to cities in search of employment and the elderly pass on. But in El Cerrito, a small agrarian community on the Pecos River 60 miles southeast of Santa Fe, more people come home to attend the limpia every year.
El Cerrito has been photographer Sharon Stewart’s creative ground for two decades. Now based in Chacon, N.M., Stewart grew up among canals and pump houses in southern Texas. Her great-grandfather was a photographer, and her father a water district attorney. She earned a degree in economics at the University of Texas, and after an uninspired fling with business school, helped found the Houston Center for Photography. Her work has been featured in galleries across the United States and in Europe. To read more about the Acequia tradition in the high country news, click here!
The Apple Miner Company is a– get this!– 25– yes twenty-freaking-five– piece folk band hailing out of Santa Fe, NM. Check them out!
“We have the wrong world view here in the West, the idea of unlimited expansion, and it just doesn’t work,” she says. “I think land-based people who generally live on a small scale know that there’s a limited good. The basic idea is that shortages are shared.” –Sylvia Rodriguez, professor emerita of anthropology at UNM
Photo credit J.R. Logan/Taos News
Norbert Ledoux beams with pride when he sees his acequia brimming with spring runoff on a sunny May morning.
Ledoux, a young farmer from Talpa, has 2 acres of beans, peas and other vegetables planted. Water in the ditch likely means a bountiful harvest. Enough crops to feed his friends and family, with plenty left over to sell at his roadside farm stand.
“This year, we have a such an abundance that we can’t possibly use it all,” says Ledoux. “Everybody is content.”
Three years ago, things weren’t so cheerful.
On this same day in 2013, there was less than one-fifth the flow in this stream, the Río Grande del Rancho, which feeds more than a dozen other acequias — community-operated irrigation ditches that double as political subdivisions in New Mexico. By the middle of June, there was almost no water at all. Amid that devastating drought, acequia leaders revived a water sharing agreement originally drafted to weather the brutal drought of the ‘30s.
At the time, Ledoux was a mayordomo – a ditch boss who monitors and manages an acequia. He says that first deal was struck to help the whole valley get through the dry spell.
“Everybody was losing their crops,” Ledoux explains. “So a few ancestors of mine – uncles of mine and my grandfather – got together with the mayordomos and implemented this water share project.”
Read the whole High Country News article HERE!
So get some good advice from the experts! This is one of the best youtube planting tutorials that I’ve ever seen.
Tooley’s Trees is a retail and wholesale nursery in the beautiful Truchas, NM, on the highroad between Santa Fe and Taos, at 7,960’. They are also tree whisperers. If you don’t live in New Mexico, you maybe have never heard of them, but– as you can probably tell from the video– they are worth knowing about. Using native soil in fabric bags and root maker pots, Toooley’s Trees grows a large variety of shrubs, trees, and fruits. Being in the high desert of the Southwest, they focus on growing varieties that are drought-resistant, can tolerate high pHs, and can thrive at high elevation. They use holistic management and organic practices, which they say, “is time consuming and labor intensive, but results in healthier plants, soils, water quality and beneficial insect populations.”