the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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Agrarian Trust Symposium speaker Kim Stringfellow’s cool ass project!

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The Mojave Project is really just kind of the bomb-diggety. But don’t take our word for it: to learn more, we recommend this absolutely gorgeous video. The project is an “experimental transmedia documentary led by Kim Stringfellow exploring the physical, geological and cultural landscape of the Mojave Desert.” Browse the current projects here.

And while we’re talking about the Mojave Project, they’re asking you to
SAVE THE DATE!
WHAT: We pleased to send you this SAVE THE DATE announcement about our autumn program OUR LAND 2: Tracing the Acequia Commons, a series of talks, exhibits and happenings to advance the broadening discourse on land commons and farmland futures.

WHERE: New Mexico! Most events Free and open to the public.

WHEN: November 9-17th in close association with the Quivira Coalition and Biodynamic Association annual conferences, Agrarian Trust invites you to join us in fine company  to approach topics of Public Trust, Acequia traditions and commons culture, emergent urban commons, water enclosures and new topographics; through lectures, documentary films, open archive exhibits and an walk along an Acequia irrigation ditch, flowing continuously for four centuries.

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

 


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acequia

https://www.hcn.org/articles/photographer-sharon-stewart-on-the-acequia-tradition/Walking-the-Ditch-1.jpg/image

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!


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how rural new mexico shares water during drought

“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

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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!

 


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the best time to plant a tree is now

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.”


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acequia poem

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Anyone who has farmed in New Mexico can tell you any myriad of stories about the acequia  culture that exists there. Acequias community-managed irrigation ditches that, when stopped up, flood fields along their length. This practice is centuries old and integral to the traditional ways of farming in the high desert of the region, and it closely dictates the yearly, weekly, and daily rhythms of agriculture.

First thing in the Spring, before they even think of planting, farmers across New Mexico go out with spades to participate in a ditch cleaning. They elect a majordomo (from the same root as mayor) to manage the flow of water to each farm, and they irrigate only on their allotted day. Sometimes, in the heat of noon, your majordomo will appear out of no where waving his arms frantically yelling that Ayy! There are gophers in the ditch, and you’ll grab your boots and a shovel, and drive out right quick to plug those holes up. It’s a beautiful, sometimes comical, and sometimes dramatic (seriously, they could write soap operas about this stuff) practice in which citizens co-manage their common resource of water.

In Taos County, NM, however, some believe the practice to be under threat from corporate and state infringement on water rights. The following poem was written in response to the Abeyta Settlement of 2012, which you can read more about here. You can see the original post of this poem and read the poet’s notes, on Robert Mirabal’s website.

Acequia Poem 
By Chris Pieper

I am water, I transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,

Behind master-locks, concrete walls and the pegged barb-wire strands,
Beneath tall laws and secret negotiations,
you lock me up
is this your meaning of autonomy?
to me its a meaning of captivity, locked up tonight once again
You can explain to children’s, children how we lost our fight;
that is the cuento’s you will recite to-night

They’ll never know the shame that brands–
Dark-shame on mocking the gifts from the heavens,
One day maybe they’ll get those draggin’ days all right,
Sent from foreign commands from our future children,
to set me free once again and hopefully the men who turned the keys and sold me’s children will recognize me still. 

I am water i transport the light of the heavens into the earth into all
I am the transporter of delight, I am Acequia,
I am not owned or to be taken prisoner for foreign minds,lands,


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for your pod bud ears

CREAR1985

“And one of those farmer’s said, ‘you know we can do this work. This is our lives. We have pride in what we do, this is hard work: building these terraces year after year for a thousand years. This is a part of our culture and that’s why we can do it.’ Now, the whole world is going to have to do that pretty soon. Where are we going to  build these resources? So those resources are only going to come out of people who are accustomed, only going to come from farmers, farming families, people accustomed, campesinos, people who work, the small farmers, the millions and millions of small farmers all over the work. The farmers are going to have to reshape the earth and we are going to have to support those farmers to do that.”

-Mark Freeeman, found of CREAR on the Agricultural Innovations podcast. A fascinating conversation about climate change, rural infrastructure in the Dominican Republic and New Mexico, skepticism of new technology, distrust of institutions, and the difficulty of finding hope.

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