By Donne Gonzales, NMAA Farm Trainer
Please join us in celebrating our 2021 cohort of Los Sembradores Farm Apprentices. The group began their work together in mid-February and will complete their nine months of learning in November.
Currently, the Sembradores are reflecting on their experience and continuing to work as the days begin to get colder, and fall flowers bloom. Weeding, aerating, and loving the plants has been a daily activity in the garden. The Sembradores have harvested turnips, carrots with character, lettuce, kale, chard, and so much more. The first cucumbers came in two months ago, and the abundance of zucchinis is finally coming to an end. Apprentices harvested the garlic patch in July, and the little spice babies amazed everyone with their color, size, and shape. The team has talked alot about insects, and has also started to work more closely with honey bees this season. We look forward to our final months with the apprentices, and to all of the amazing work they will continue to do in the years ahead to nurture their land, use their acequias, and feed their communities.
Marcos Aragon, Las Vegas
“I am Marcos Aragon from a ranching family in Las Vegas. I moved around the state to attend NM State and NM Tech, where I majored in mechanical engineering and dabbled in welding. It has been an honor to get to work with NMAA this year. Being a part of the Sembradores has really helped motivate and educate me on everything from where to get material, to how to harvest. I always wanted to start a garden, and the program allowed me to this year. After learning how to amend soil from different zoom conferences, and information provided by Donne, I was able to create fertile soil from the dry, cracked, clay I had. I now have a pollinator garden for flowers and herbs, and a hoop house where I have grown lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and hot peppers. These places are now my favorite places to relax. My family and neighbors also end up benefiting from my gardens in the form of my extra vegetables and flowers. Being able to eat homegrown vegetables and gift others with them is an amazing feeling. I am grateful I was able to participate this year, because this would not have been possible without the Sembradores program. I am very appreciative of all the help and guidance Donne and the other Sembradores have provided, and look forward to the rest of the season with them.”
Amanda López, Peñasco
“My name is Amanda López, I grew up in the beautiful Peñasco valley. Growing up in northern NM I was exposed to farming and the traditions that are practiced along with farming. I remember, as a child, helping my family clean the acequia and helping my grandparents plant, water, harvest, and sell at the Farmers Market. As a child, I enjoyed my time spent with my grandparents but never realized just how important the information and knowledge they were sharing with me was, and just how much it would mean to me one day.
During my time in the Sembradores program I have learned about cover crops, soil health and different watering methods. Some of the information that I have gathered are all the little details that I missed as a child when I would help my grandparents, and some of the information is brand new. Donne has been an amazing teacher and her kind heart makes her very approachable and an amazing friend to have. She is very knowledgeable about resources and if she doesn’t know the answer she knows where to find it and can point you in the right direction. My garden this year has been small and consisted of squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, chile, a berry patch, and an herb garden. Next year I plan to expand.
My time with Sembradores has made me realize a passion of mine that I plan to continue expanding on for years to come. It has been such an amazing experience that has made me feel connected to the past and my ancestors in such a life changing way. I look forward to all the knowledge and information that I will continue to pick up for the remainder of my time with the Sembradores program and in my future as a farmer.”
Angel Fresquez, Chamisal
“My name is Angel Fresquez. I’m 35 years old and a resident of Chamisal. The NMAA Sembradores Program is revitalizing my intellectual/ academic skills, which is expanding my situational awareness of the plant’s around me. The Sembradores Program is an excellent addition to my security science studies which is all about the protection and the preservation of life.
I’ve been learning about crafting remedios and I’m making gumweed, mullein leaf and garlic tinctures. I appreciate the opportunity to share what I know while also absorbing as much as possible. Having to learn through trial and error in the garden plot that I have started as a part of the program is the most powerful way for me to learn. The healing power of plants is what I enjoy learning about and want to be able to share. I am also interested in farm and business planning, and how to plan for the unexpected, have contingencies and address unintended consequences. Farming is definitely a test of patience. After multiple failures due to circumstance and my own mistakes, I have grown peas, avas, flax, basil, catnip and several other plants that I wrote off, but the rains brought out. Some of the challenges I have encountered so far are prairie dogs, squirrels, birds and hail. Let’s see what happens and how it goes, hopefully good.”
Alex Rose Gutierrez Jaramillo, Española
“My name is Alex Rose Gutierrez Jaramillo. I am very honored to share time with Land in Chamisal, with Donne, and with the other Sembradores. We have learned that the pumpkins like to grow on mounds to vine out. We have learned about different bugs and how they provide support to plants. Re-defining paths of water from the acequia teaches us how to observe water’s flow on Land. I have deep gratitude for learning remedios and using resources respectfully, and for nurturing a space of freedom to be ourselves which allows for connection and conversations. We share different knowledge, and through this, blossoms grow in each other and expand awareness of life. The process of preparing, planting, and working together has gotten us in a rhythm, a pattern that provides support in one’s life as a farmer.”
For more information about the Sembradores farming training, visit: lasacequias.org/los-sembradores-farmer-training
We will review applications for our 2022 cohort beginning in December/January.