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This is a letter from a broad coalition to the NM House of Representatives. For a PDF of the letter click here:  Cannabis coalition Letter to House 2.15.22



Dear House Members,

We, the undersigned, are calling upon the House of Representatives to restore water protections to the Cannabis Regulation Act (CRA). SB 100 (Lopez-Romero) was originally intended to increase plant counts and other “technical” changes. However, a hostile amendment by Senator Pirtle in the Senate Judiciary Committee stripped essential water protections requiring that an applicant have valid water rights as a condition of being granted a license to grow cannabis. We are asking the House to remove the Pirtle amendment and restore existing water protection requirements of the CRA.

We know that these protections are necessary because other states with legal cannabis (California, Oregon, Colorado, etc.) are struggling with illegal water uses. In New Mexico, many new producers mistakenly believe they can:

1) use domestic wells for commercial production,

2) pump surface water from acequias or rivers without a valid water right,

3) use residential water from mutual domestics for commercial production.

OSE Director of Water Resources Allocation Program has recently stated that the CRA’s water validation requirement is working to prevent water theft by cannabis producers and results in less agency resources being expended in the long term:         

  • 85-90% of applicants “have presented invalid water rights, need to reconfigure the water rights or plan to use a domestic well, which is not allowed for agriculture,” Romero advised.
  • OSE also advised that removal of the existing water protection requirement is “going to make it that much more difficult on the agency when we’re already resource-strapped.”

*Source: https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2022/02/15/senate-passes-cannabis-law-changes-adds-new-water-rights-language/

Moreover, the water protection requirements ensure water equity. Tribal and Senior water rights holders in NM are from historically underserved and marginalized communities which will now be put at greater risk of unlawful uses of surface and groundwater impairing their senior water rights. This is an issue of water equity. Requiring validity checks for water actually ensures water equity for rural and tribal communities such as acequias and water providers such as mutual domestics.

Finally, the Legislature has required OSE water rights validation and use oversight for other industries: NM Subdivision Act, specifically Sections 47-6-11, 47-6-11.2, and 47-6-11.4 NMSA 1978; Section 72-12-5 NMSA 1978 pertaining to use of non potable deep aquifers in multiple sectors; and the Mine Dewatering Act, Section 2-12A-5 NMSA 1978.

New Mexico is now in an era of long term aridification, where we need more careful stewardship of our limited water resources and cultural integrity. By removing the water protections, rural entities, such as mutual domestics and acequias, who are entrusted with managing water at the local level, will bear the burden of enforcement. This would put our precious water resources at risk. We are urging you to remove the Pirtle amendment, restore existing water protection requirements, and allow time for a meaningful analysis during the legislative interim.

NM Cannabis Justice Project                                                 Shiprock Traditional Farmers Cooperative

Pueblo Action Alliance                                                            El Chante

National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Ass.-NM   Southwest Organizing Project

National Young Farmers                                                         American Friends Service Committee

New Mexico Acequia Association                                        Tewa Women United

Western Landowners Alliance                                               Yucca

Trout Unlimited                                                                        Los Jardines

Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network                                      Earth Care

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union                                           Black Farmers and Ranchers NM

N.M. Association of Conservation Districts                        Bueno Para Todos Farm

NM League of United Latin American Citizens

CALL TO ACTION: Contact Senators to Oppose Removal of Water Protections in Cannabis Bill

Please contact the Senate NOW to remove the Senate Judiciary Committee amendment to SB 100 Cannabis Regulation!! There will like be a vote on the Senate Floor MONDAY.  When the original Cannabis Regulation Act was passed in 2021, NMAA advocated for water protections as a condition of obtaining a cannabis producer license. The protections are to prevent illegal uses of water.  IT IS URGENT that we contact the full Senate to remove the SJC amendment, which was made in the Senate Judiciary Committee WITHOUT ANY TRANSPARENCY or opportunity for PUBLIC COMMENT.

Cut and Paste Subject: Keep Water Protections in Cannabis Regulation Act
Cut and paste to all the Senators:

greg.baca@nmlegis.gov, craig.brandt@nmlegis.gov, bill.burt@nmlegis.gov, “Campos, Pete” <pete.campos@nmlegis.gov>, “Candelaria, Jacob” <jacob.candelaria@nmlegis.gov>, joseph.cervantes@nmlegis.gov, crystal.diamond@nmlegis.gov, katy.duhigg@nmlegis.gov, “David Gallegos (david.rsi@hotmail.com)” <david.rsi@hotmail.com>, roberto.gonzales@nmlegis.gov, ron.griggs@nmlegis.gov, carrie.hamblen@nmlegis.gov, siah.hemphill@nmlegis.gov, martin.hickey@nmlegis.gov, stuart.ingle@nmlegis.gov, daniel.ivey-soto@nmlegis.gov, “Jaramillo, Leo” <leo.jaramillo@nmlegis.gov>, gay.kernan@nmlegis.gov, linda.lopez@nmlegis.gov, brenda.mckenna@nmlegis.gov, mark.moores@nmlegis.gov, george.munoz@nmlegis.gov, steven.neville@nmlegis.gov, oneillsd13@billoneillfornm.com, “Ortiz y Pino, Jerry” <jortizyp@msn.com>, michael.padilla@nmlegis.gov, shannon.pinto@nmlegis.gov, cliff.pirtle@nmlegis.gov, harold.popejr@nmlegis.gov, nancy.rodriguez@nmlegis.gov, Joshua Sanchez <jas4nm@gmail.com>, gregg.schmedes@nmlegis.gov, a.sedillolopez@nmlegis.gov, bill@williamsharer.com, “Shendo, Benny” <benny.shendo@nmlegis.gov>, bill.soules@nmlegis.gov, Liz Stefanics <lstefanics@msn.com>, jeff.steinborn@nmlegis.gov, bill.tallman@nmlegis.gov, Peter Wirth <peter.wirth@nmlegis.gov>, pat.woods@nmlegis.gov, mimi.stewart@nmlegis.gov, leojaramillo76@gmail.com, lopez4148@msn.com, asedillolopez@gmail.com

Cut and Paste Sample message:
Dear Senators,
We stand in firm opposition to the amendment made to SB 100 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The amendment was made with no public notice and no opportunity for public comment. It is an amendment that removes critical water protections from the Cannabis Regulation Act, which was passed in 2021. The purpose of the water protections was to ensure that license applicants have valid water rights and are in compliance with local water provider rules. We ask that the Senate remove this amendment in a SENATE FLOOR AMENDMENT and that the issue of water rights be addressed during the legislative interim.
We know that these protections are necessary because other states with legal cannabis (California, Oregon, Colorado, etc.) are struggling with illegal water uses. In New Mexico, many new producers mistakenly believe they can:
1) use domestic wells for commercial production,
2) pump surface water from acequias or rivers without a valid water right,
3) use residential water from mutual domestics for commercial production.
New Mexico is in a historic drought when we need more careful stewardship of our limited water resources. By removing the water protections, the State Legislature will be unleashing an industry in rural New Mexico where local institutions such as mutual domestics, acequias, and small towns need guardrails at the state level to avoid exploitation of limited water resources, especially finite groundwater. We are urging you to remove this amendment and allow time for more analysis during the legislative interim.
(your name and acequia/water institution/organization)

Acequias Cry Foul on Cannabis Legislation



Contact: Paula Garcia 




Acequias Cry Foul on Cannabis Legislation

(Santa Fe, NM). Acequias are denouncing a last-minute gutting of water protections in the Cannabis Regulation Act. On Sunday morning, a Senate committee met to consider a bill dealing with cannabis plant count limits. Without notice or opportunity for public comment, the committee adopted an amendment eliminating existing requirements aimed at preventing illegal uses of water.

“We worked very hard with the legislature in 2021 to enact safeguards for water resources from the negative impacts of the cannabis industry,” said Paula Garcia, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association. “In a few minutes, with no opportunity for public comment, all that hard work was erased.” 

Senator Pirtle, a Roswell Republican, introduced an amendment to SB 100 to remove language in the Cannabis Regulation Act requiring cannabis producers have valid water rights. The only dissenting vote was Senator Linda Lopez, the bill sponsor who called the amendment “not friendly.” Three of the committee members who are attorneys practicing cannabis law cited their own experience and argued that the water rights requirements were burdensome.

“We are calling upon the full Senate to remove the amendment that gutted the water protections,” Garcia remarked. “If the Legislature was planning to remove the water protections, stakeholders including the acequias should have been consulted.” 

Harold Trujillo, President of the NMAA and a member of the Cannabis Advisory Committee, countered remarks by the committee that the removal of water protections would benefit smaller producers. “We are concerned that the cause of equity is being misrepresented,” said Trujillo. “The root cause of inequity is the lack of capital for micro-producers. Requiring validity checks for water actually ensures water equity for rural communities such as mutual domestics and acequias.”

In a public meeting in November 2021, the OSE reported that they had received approximately twenty requests for water rights validation and that the majority did not meet validity checks. “We have learned from other states as well as specific examples of medical producers in New Mexico that the cannabis industry is unique in its apparent problem of illegal water use,” remarked Garcia. “As one of the most water-scarce states in the nation, New Mexico needs extra safeguards for our precious water.”


NMAA 2022 Legislative Tracker

The New Mexico Acequia Association will be engaged in the upcoming 2022 legislative session. This year, the legislature will convene for a 30-day session, which is focused on passing budget legislation as well as key priorities of the Governor.
NMAA is working on a list of budget priorities as follows:

• $400,000 increase in recurring funding for the Acequia and Community Ditch Fund (ACDF) the purpose of which is to ensure equitable engagement in the water right adjudication process

• $4.5 million to the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) for a 3 year project to conduct a statewide acequia infrastructure assessment including analysis of climate resilient designs for acequia irrigation systems.

• $2.5 million to the ISC for shovel-ready projects and $5 million to the Acequia and Community Ditch Infrastructure Fund (ACDIF) to plan, design, and construct acequia projects over a 3 year timeframe.

• Create an Acequia Bureau at the ISC and add 2.0 FTE for implementation of the ACDIF.

• Create a Policy Analyst Position, 1.0 FTE to the New Mexico Acequia Commission.
Additionally, NMAA will be monitoring all legislation with a focus on water, agriculture, conservation, and infrastructure. We update our 2022 Acequia Legislative Tracker daily during the 30 day session.

Click here to view the tracker

Land Grants and Acequias – Statement on House Committee Structure

Statement from the NM Acequia Association:

“Land grants and acequias have sustained our communities for centuries. We remain devoted to the well-being of our families by sustaining our culture and protecting land and water for future generations. We are encouraged that House Leadership is listening to our needs and concerns and that there is a commitment to work with us now and in the future. We are prepared to advocate for investments in our communities and policies consistent with our core values. We have much work ahead and look forward to having a stronger voice in the updated committee structure.” – Paula Garcia, Executive Director

Full text of the press release from Speaker Brian Egolf:

House Democrats and Community Leaders Give Voice to Land Grants and Acequias

Santa Fe, NM. – After meeting with land grant and acequia community leaders today, House Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) announced important changes to House standing committees to elevate the voices and concerns of these communities. The new Rural Development, Land Grants, and Cultural Affairs Committee will be established in the coming session, and will be chaired by Representative Susan Herrera (D-Embudo).

Two other standing committees will also be newly titled: the Agriculture, Acequias, and Water Resources Committee and the Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee. Together, these committees will respond effectively to the needs of land grant and acequia communities within the Legislature.

Majority Leader Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque), Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos (D-Las Cruces), and Majority Caucus Chair D. Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock) joined with colleagues in the House today to meet with land grant and acequia community leaders and receive input on policies to strengthen and protect these institutions into the future.

Statement of Speaker Brian Egolf:

“Land grants, acequias, and their contributions to our state have been critically important to me since the first day I was elected to the Legislature. I am grateful for the advice and input that we received today from land grant and acequia leaders. I am glad that we have charted a path forward which will result in a new committee structure that will both elevate land grant and acequia issues and bring positive change for every land grant heir and acequia parciante.”

New Mexico Land Grant-Merced Consejo:
“The New Mexico Land Grant-Merced Consejo and land grant leaders throughout the state are pleased that the Majority Leadership in the House of Representatives has committed to working with and consulting our communities on issues relating to land and water, which we expect will result in better overall policies for our State. That land grants and acequias are included in standing committees of the legislature is an important first step to ensure that the needs of our communities are addressed.”

Paula Garcia, Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association:
“Land grants and acequias have sustained our communities for centuries. We remain devoted to the well-being of our families by sustaining our culture and protecting land and water for future generations. We are encouraged that House Leadership is listening to our needs and concerns and that there is a commitment to work with us now and in the future. We are prepared to advocate for investments in our communities and policies consistent with our core values. We have much work ahead and look forward to having a stronger voice in the updated committee structure.”

Ralph Vigil, Chair of the New Mexico Acequia Commission:

“Today we had a good meeting with House Leadership regarding the future of the land grants, acequias, and our traditional communities. This is hopefully the beginning of building long term relationships with legislative leaders to address the long standing issues for our traditional communities and the citizens of New Mexico. We look forward to working closely with our legislative allies to move our communities forward.”

Steve Polaco, President of Merced de Los Pueblos de Tierra Amarilla:

“I am pleased that Representative Susan Herrera has been appointed to Chair the new Rural Development, Land Grants, and Cultural Affairs Committee. She has been working with our land grant since she was elected. Everything we have asked for, she has always sent us in the right direction and I think she will lead us in a way that will help us accomplish everything that we want to achieve. She has been very responsive in the past and I have confidence that she will continue to do that.”

House Majority Leader Javier Martínez:

“These treasured multigenerational entities are foundational to the identity and livelihoods of many New Mexicans. The land grant and acequia communities have to know they can count on elected leaders to have their backs and ensure they have a strong voice within state government.”



Corazon y Querencia Declaration

Corazón y Querencia: Acequias Respond to the Water and Climate Crisis

Adopted at the 2021 Congreso de las Acequias, December 4, 2021

Our theme for 2021, Corazón y Querencia, is rooted in love, which is the most potent force for survival and resilience for our families and communities in the years to come. Drought, climate change, and the global pandemic have reminded us of our interconnectedness both locally and globally. We believe in the power of building stronger communities through cooperation, sharing, and mutual understanding.

Acequias have been caretakers of water for centuries in New Mexico. For nearly four decades, acequias have mobilized to protect water from commodification through protests of water transfers and by strengthening acequia governance. Our communities are confronting an urgent existential crisis that must be addressed on multiple levels:

  • the water crisis has been underway for decades prompted in part by climate change and drought but also by water policy decisions. For more than two generations, acequias have sounded the alarm about an impending water crisis resulting from overappropriation of water, unsustainable and inequitable management of our water resources based on water markets, water transfers out of agriculture to other uses, and irreversible depletion of finite groundwater.
  • the climate crisis has increased the urgency to be exemplary caretakers of our watersheds, rivers, acequias, and farmland, to reaffirm customs and traditions of water sharing, i.e. the repartimiento, as well as to re-localize our food systems with native and landrace seeds, healthy soils, resilient and dynamic herds of livestock, and regenerative agricultural practices.
  • the economic crisis, driven by unprecedented wealth inequality, manifests in our communities as gentrification, development patterns that cannot be sustained in an arid environment, underinvestment in rural community development and infrastructure, and food and agriculture policy that undermines small-scale farmers. The most immediate impact for acequias is the commodification of water driving the movement of water out of agriculture to extractive industries, water speculation, land development speculation, as well as luxury resorts and hunting lodges for the extremely wealthy.

Core Values

Guided by our core values, acequia parciantes, families, and neighbors will strive to work together to not only survive multiple levels of crisis but to strengthen our communities. We resolve to build and sustain relationships based on respeto (respect) in which we treat each other with dignity. As acequias, water sharing customs and traditions, known as the repartimiento, are central to our culture and our identity. Likewise, mutualismo, characterized by relationships of mutual aid, democratic decisions, and collective management of resources, is a core value deeply rooted in acequia history and culture.  The core value of solidarity compels us to work with multiple movements for social, economic, and environmental justice.

Acequias and the Way Forward: Actions for 2022

Water Sharing Agreements: The repartimiento tradition, as we define it for our present time, is the practice of sharing water within acequias and between acequias. As long-term megadrought and climate change intensify, communities have to prepare for less snowpack, less runoff, and less predictable precipitation. In 2022, the NMAA invites acequias to engage in a local dialogue to affirm values and customs of water sharing and to update and reinvent customary practices during this era of climate change when adaptations are necessary.

Water as a Community Resource vs. Commodification: Acequias have been on the front line of challenging the commodification of water for over a century in New Mexico. In 2022, NMAA will continue to support acequias in filing protests of water transfers, to build capacity to exert decisions over proposed water transfers out of acequias, and to organize a base in communities to defend water as a community resource.

Infrastructure and Disaster Preparedness: Generations of acequia parciantes have built and maintained acequia infrastructure. NMAA remains committed to supporting local acequias securing resources for improvements to infrastructure and to advocating for climate-resilience in planning and design of irrigation works. Acequias must remain vigilant to disasters such as fires and floods and will need support to prepare for disasters and to navigate emergency management and disaster recovery.

Care for our Watersheds and Aquifers: Our watersheds, rivers, and aquifers are interconnected. Efforts to improve the health of our watersheds must be increased by an order of magnitude to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire. Acequia leaders can be valuable partners in planning watershed restoration projects with soil and water conservation districts and other partners. Likewise, acequias have a role in protecting aquifers from groundwater depletion. It is vital that stronger conjunctive management be implemented in New Mexico to ensure that aquifers can be sustained for future generations. The acequia landscape, our waterways and farmland, which contribute to aquifer recharge, must be protected through various regulatory and legal tools.

Clean Water for Drinking, Growing Food, Wildlife, and Ceremonies: Climate-change induced water scarcity will likely exacerbate water quality problems in our streams and rivers. Pollution from industries, municipalities, weapons laboratories, and ski areas continues to be a concern because of detriment to water supplies, including surface waters used for irrigation. NMAA will continue to partner with advocates and community leaders in defending water from contamination and will work toward a regulatory framework that is effective in achieving clean water for our communities and future generations.

Food and Seed Sovereignty: Growing food and raising livestock are central to acequia continuity for centuries past and future. Re-localizing our food systems includes all the necessary work of protecting land and water as well as saving, protecting, and propagating native and landrace seeds. Our communities need a more robust support system for acequia-scale farming and ranching that includes paid training and apprenticeship opportunities, assistance with purchasing and using equipment, food system infrastructure for aggregation, storage, and distribution, and community support in providing a vibrant local market. We can build upon programs that incentivize making fresh, locally grown food affordable and available to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Land: In New Mexico, a tiny fraction of land is arable and these irrigated lands hold the promise of food sovereignty. Irrigated lands used for farmland and pasture are vulnerable to economic forces driving subdivision and development. All lands, including rangelands, are vulnerable to soil erosion, which will be exacerbated by climate change. Major investment of resources from the state and federal level for conservation programs is needed to restore the health of our landscape and to build healthy soils that support food systems and sequester carbon. It is imperative to people who wish to farm with people willing to lease or lend their land to be used for growing food. Acequias will continue to work with land grants to gain more recognition and protection for traditional land uses.

Youth Education and Leadership. Younger generations are inheriting a land vastly different from that known by our parents and grandparents. We are in a time of reckoning when we will be assessing our efforts to protect our land and water, gleaning our lessons learned, and supporting youth in taking on leadership roles in our movement. In 2022, NMAA will support existing youth projects, encourage networking between youth leaders, and incorporate youth leaders into NMAA projects, programs, and governance. Additionally, NMAA will collaborate with partners to develop curriculum inclusive of acequias and land grants for use by schools and organizations.

Organizing and Popular Education: For over three decades, the NMAA has been engaged as a grassroots organization to protect water and strengthen acequia agriculture. NMAA includes elders with deep roots in social justice and the civil rights movement. The dual climate and economic crises that we confront require us to learn from our past work to organize in our communities and to strengthen our efforts to build a grassroots base so that we can act in our collective interests. Our methods will be to embrace popular education methods and to involve youth in key roles in community organizing.



Guidance on Acequia Meetings During the COVID Pandemic

Attention Acequia Commissioners and Mayordomos:

Guidance on Acequia Meetings during the COVID Pandemic (updated 12/21/21)

Covid case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths are on the rise nationally. In response to the new Omicron variant, the CDC has strengthened its recommendation saying, “The recent emergence of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19.” Acequia communities are vulnerable because of our elder population and because our health care system and hospitals are strained.

Prevention efforts include the following:

  • Avoid large, indoor gatherings.
  • Wear masks.
  • Maintain social distancing.
  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently.

Many acequias have asked for direction on whether to hold their annual membership meetings. It is important to point out that although acequia statutes state specific dates for scheduling of annual meetings, there is also language that allows for meetings to take place “as soon as practicable thereafter.”

Also, an Attorney General memo from 2020, advised during the state of emergency declared by the Governor, that local governments could postpone meetings or could hold them virtually. 

Therefore, NMAA is offering the following guidance. This is not legal advice. If there are any specific questions, you may contact our office or consult with your own attorney.

  • Avoid indoor meetings. 
  • Membership meetings CAN be postponed until pandemic conditions improve.
  • If there is urgent business, such as deadlines for funding applications or project management, commissioners can hold special commission meetings provided that the meetings are compliant with the Open Meetings Act. 
  • Membership meetings should be held virtually via online platforms provided that meetings are compliant with the Open Meetings Act until current conditions related to the pandemic improve.
  • Consider outdoor meetings if weather allows provided that the meetings follow the Open Meetings Act.

The NMAA can provide assistance in hosting online meetings via Zoom including technical assistance with the online meeting and ensuring the meeting is OMA compliant.

If you have general questions, contact Serafina: serafina@lasacequias.org

If you would like NMAA support in hosting a online/phone meeting, contact Emily: emily@lasacequias.org

Acequias Decry Proposed Congressional Map


Acequias Decry Proposed Congressional Map

(Santa Fe, NM). On Thursday morning, community leaders from northern New Mexico decried the proposed congressional maps as political disenfranchisement. Several northern New Mexico leaders gave testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“This was our one opportunity in ten years to testify to a Senate committee on redistricting. Our voice matters,” said Yolanda Jaramillo, an acequia commissioner from Dixon.

“We are opposed to SB 1 because it erodes the political voice of northern New Mexico,” said Ralph Vigil, Chairman of the New Mexico Acequia Commission. “Our communities of interest will be diminished with SB 1 by adding a large swath of southeastern New Mexico to Congressional District 3.”

“We have a long legacy of civic engagement in northern New Mexico where we have been able to advocate for our communities,” said Garcia, “The changes to district 3 will make it more difficult for traditional Hispanic communities of northern New Mexico to have political representation of their choice.”

“We participated extensively in the Citizens Redistricting Committee. Those maps were more measured and moderate. The legislature should have considered those maps that were developed with public input,” said Harold Trujillo, a commissioner from Mora County. “Specifically, map concepts H and E had some similarities to SB 1 but the changes were not as extensive. Concept E incorporated acequia input.”

In the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, SB 1 proponents stated that the new map would make all three congressional districts more competitive. “Just drawing maps around percentages of Hispanic population does not tell the story of our communities and does not honor us as communities of interest,” added Garcia. “Voting statistics do not define us as a people.”

At the meeting, community members from both northern New Mexico an southeastern New Mexico both spoke in opposition to the new map. “This feels like a shotgun wedding between northern New Mexico and southeastern New Mexico being pushed by some powerful actors who are not listening to us,” remarked Yolanda Jaramillo.




2021 Acequia Art & Photo Contest Winners!

We share our big appreciation with everyone who entered the 2021 Acequia Art & Photo Contest!

Please join us in sharing and celebrating the winning submissions:

Youth Art

First Prize: Jeremy Rodriguez and Jeremiah Martinez of Peñasco

Second Prize: Katelynn Sanchez of Peñasco

Third Prize tie: Feliciana Mitchell of Vadito

Third Prize tie: 
Simona Santistevan, Canon de Taos, Acequia Madre Sur de Rio Don Fernando in Taos, “Flores y Arbol”

Youth Photo

First Prize – Simona Santistevan, Acequia Madre del Sur, Taos

Second Prize -Isabela Gonzales of Peñasco

Youth Essay

We celebrate Alyson Archuleta of Taos, who shared a beautiful essay!

Grandpa Adonais is 90 years old and Grandma Alice is 80 years old. They still plant their vegetable garden just to pass their culture and traditions to their grandchildren. Southside Acequia runs on the side of their property. 

They taught me how many seeds to drop into the hole and to step on the ground over the seeds. We planted purple havas, sweet peas, carrots, lettuce, garlic, onion, corn, strawberry popcorn and different pumpkins. Later on the week the Acequia is open and water gets into the garden through rat holes and the ground gets wet. The rows that we planted were out about two weeks later. Many other plants were out and I thought they were weeds.

My grandpa says that grandma thinks she is a curandera, a person who collects herbs and uses them as medicine….When we get home after school grandma or moomsy as we call her blesses us with a bunch of sage tied together and smoke flows over us. It smells funny but good.”

Click here to read her full essay!

Adult Art

First Prize – Ariana Montez of La Puebla

“The artwork is supposed to be of the acequia on my grandfather’s home in La Puebla. I painted it shortly after he passed away in April and thought of the happy times I spent there playing in the Acequia with my grandparents and cousins. It represents the reflections made on his life when he passed. My grandfather Arsenio was an exceptionally kind man and taught us the importance of caring for the environment and animals.”

Second Prize – Emilio Arellano of La Acequia Madre and the Acequia de Abajo in San Cristobal, “A Glimmer of Hope”

“Emilio is a 23 year old on the spectrum.  He is a very quiet  person but loves the water landscapes all over NM. Emilio is from San Cristobal, NM and spends time outdoors taking photos of the waters near his home.  The acequia that runs through here is La Acequia Madre and the Acequia de Abajo.  We live in Taos County.   We look forward to the spring time to paint new scenes of the beautiful colors and planting our small garden.”

Third Prize – Lee Lee and Thatcher Gray of Los Lovatos Acequia in Taos

“The painting was done by myself, Lee Lee in collaboration with my son, Thatcher Gray…it is a portrait of my father and son cleaning the Los Lovatos ditch in Taos. I painted the figures using watercolor over textures we made together from materials pulled from our garden that flourished from acequia waters (stains from red beets, cabbage, tea and soil).”

Adult Photo

First Prize – Helen Perraglio of the Ojo Caliente Ditch in Ojo Caliente “Corn Flowers”

Second Prize – Miguel Santistevan of Acequia Madre del Sur in Taos, “Regando Ajo”

Third Prize – Yasmeen Najmi of Lane Lateral in Albuquerque, “Agua y Tierra Together Forever” (digitally altered image)

Apply today: Los Sembradores Farmer Training Program 2022

The New Mexico Acequia Association is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the SIXTH year cohort of our Farmer-to-Farmer training program, Los Sembradores!

‘Sembradores’ take part in a nine-month, intensive apprenticeship at the Chicoyole farm, and are supported to work their own plots in their different home communities. They gain skills and experience as acequia farmers, including traditional irrigation techniques and ancestral farming methods, as well as modern farming techniques that incorporate season extension, nutrient management, soil health, farm business planning, and regenerative agriculture.

Training includes: farm and business planning, season extension, fertility and soil health, irrigation methods, maintenance of equipment and usage, planting and harvesting techniques, organic pest management, marketing, value added processing, seed saving, remedio making, processing of traditional foods, leadership training, and participation in different NMAA events throughout the season.

Program schedule, location and compensation: Mid-Feb. to Mid-Dec. 2022 with commitment to 3 days a week for the full term of the training. This is a PAID position with bi-weekly work stipends provided.

Our program is run on-site at Chicoyole Farm in Chamisal, NM – apprentices are expected to have reliable transport to and from Chamisal. We are committed to being covid safe, and will implement safety measures as necessary for community health and safety.

Preference is given to applicants from historic acequia communities who have access to a home garden or farm space to implement what they learn during the program.


If you are interested in applying for the program, click here to complete the application form and/orcontact: donne@lasacequias.org (505) 995-9644