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SAVE the DATE – Congreso de las Acequias December 5th and 6th

The 9th Annual Congreso de las Acequias will be held on Friday and Saturday, December 5th and 6th at The Lodge in Santa Fe on North Saint Frances Drive.  Details are forthcoming.  Friday will consist of workshops followed by a banquet and awards ceremony that evening.  Saturday will be the general assembly of the Congreso de las Acequias, the statewide governing body of the New Mexico Acequia Associations with regional delegations from over 25 regions of the state.  For more information, please call 505-995-9644 or email marcela@lasacequias.org.

Questa Acequia Workshop

Saturday, June 14, 2008

VFW Building in Questa

Questa, NM

9:00 am –12:00 pm


All acequia parciantes in the Questa area are invited to a workshop for the purpose of discussing important issues facing acequias locally and State-wide.  We will discuss some of the following in addition to a question & answer session:

·         How we can protect our water rights through water banking.

·         Learn about acequia easements and bylaws.

·         Learn about acequia water right transfers.

·         What are duties and powers of Commissioners?

·         Learn about State funding (Capital Outlay Process) for ditch improvements.


Hosted by the New Mexico Acequia Association

Penasco Acequia Workshop

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Peñasco Elementary School Commons Area

Peñasco, NM

9:00 am –12:00 pm

All acequia parciantes in the Peñasco area are invited to a workshop for the purpose of discussing important issues facing acequias locally and State-wide. We will discuss some of the following in addition to a question & answer session:

· How we can protect our water rights through water banking.

· Learn about acequia easements and bylaws.

· What are duties and powers of Commissioners?

· How can acequias effectively conduct their business operations?

· Learn about State funding (Capital Outlay Process) for ditch improvements.

Hosted by the New Mexico Acequia Association

Dia de San Antonio – Celebrando las Acequias

Join us for a celebration of Dia de San Antonio.  It will be two days filled with prayer, education, and celebration.  Friday will begin with a procession to honor San Antonio.  The NMAA will provide two workshops: Acequia Water Banking and Acequia Easements and the evening will include a presentation honoring local community members for their contributions to the acequias. 


7:00am  Procession

10:00am Workshop Water Banking

12:00pm  Lunch

1:30pm Workshop Easements

5:00pm Art Exhibition

6:00pm Food and Music!!

7:00pm Ceremony Honoring Community Members


9am – 12noon Mapping Presentations

For more information, call 505-995-9644. 


Mayordomo: The keeper of the Water and Traditions  

By Estevan Arellano 

 A couple of years back at the unveiling of a sculpture in Taos I was talking with State Historian Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez and he made a comment that has stuck in my mind ever since. He said, “There should be a sculpture of a mayordomo instead of only famous people, because it was people like them who have really made New Mexico what it is today.” We continued our conversation that most of the people honored, if from the past, were the conquistadores and if from today, the politicians.

      Everywhere buildings are named after a politician, but never do we see the illusive image of someone who has really made northern New Mexico what it is today, and that is a mayordomo, or a sembrador – a farmer – or a rancher.

      There is song of “la Llorona loca,” walking the banks of the acequia at night, but what about the mayordomo?

      To be a mayordomo, or the one who manages the water in an ancient acequia, is an honor and today very hard work. I say “ancient” acequia because of an old document about an Embudo land transaction found at the state archives by Dr. Danna Levin from the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, from 1788 which mentions “la acequia antigua” that had been in use since the beginning of the settlement, presumably in 1725 when the Embudo land grant was made.

      Which brings me back to honoring our mayordomos with a sculpture, not in a manicured sculptured garden, a state museum or the Capitol Rotunda but rather along the banks of the acequias in his natural habitat. That is, where the acequias are visible from the road.

      When I think of a mayordomo, two people come to mind, both died in 1992. Pablo Romero, mayordomo of the Acequia de la Plaza in Dixon was a walking encyclopedia when it came acequias and farming: both were more than friends, they were my mentors. The other was Cleofes Vigil from San Cristobal; known to most people as a folklorist.

      But since Pablo was my neighbor I spent many hours under an old apple tree talking about acequias, fruit trees, chile, etc. He opened my eyes to how complex the acequia landscape used to be and how he used grapes vines as “cortinas,” curtains, to create edible, private spaces. And since his land was traversed by an arroyo, by terracing, his father had taught him to turn what could have been a negative into a positive space where they grew peaches. Terraces add a sculptural feeling to the landscape.

      On June 13th, the community of Embudo will be honoring two persons, one a mayordomo and the other a sembrador, at the first annual “Celebrando las acequias” during the annual Día de San Antonio events to be held at the Embudo Community Center and the Mission Embudo in Dixon, sponsored by the Embudo Valley Library, the New Mexico Acequia Association and the Embudo Valley Acequia Association.

      Dr. Rael-Galvez will be present to make the presentations and hopefully plant the symbolic seed to realize his dream. If Spain has their national symbol of a bull everywhere, why can’t we in New Mexico have the mayordomo, whom is also a sembrador, walking the “bordo,” or bank with his shovel resting on his shoulder?

      The mayordomo will be Aaron Griego, a retired educator and coach, who has been mayordomo of the Acequia de la Plaza for 50 years and orchardist Fred Martinez, who has a 3,500-tree orchard, irrigated by the Leonardo Martinez Acequia. 

      Their own community will finally recognize the most honorable of all occupations – to be a mayordomo and sembrador.

      Join us for this historic occasion starting at 5:00 for the opening of an art exhibit.

Land and Water Institute: Honoring Our Legacy, Planting Seeds for the Future

This is a two day gathering sponsored by the Ben Lujan Leadership and Public Policy Institute along with several partners including the New Mexico Acequia Association, New Mexico Land Grant Council, New Mexico Highlands University, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, ENLACE, and GEAR UP. 

The purpose of the institute is to inspire hope and capture the imagination of veteran community leaders and youth to build upon work in the areas of land and water, agricultural revitalization, and youth education.   The Institute will take place at New Mexico Highlands University at Kennedy Hall from 9:30am on May 19th through 4:30pm on May 20th. 

Our objectives for the institute are to convene community leaders, youth, and students to learn from successful projects and campaigns to protect land and water rights, to discuss ways to replicate projects that demonstrate the viability of land-based livelihoods, and to identify strategies to integrate community interests and knowledge into the educational system.

Click here for the registration brochure.  Everyone is invited. 

Cesar Chavez Celebration

Hola amigos
I would like to take this opportunity to also invite you to celebrate Cesar E. Chavez’s birthday with a march and rally celebrating the past and continuing the struggle. Saturday March 29th beginning at 9am-11am at the sanchez farm in the south valley of albuquerque with a service and seed planting. 11am the march begins from the sanchez farm to the National Hispanic Cultural Center. noon-fiesta, music, food, community exhibits. que viva la causa!

James Maestas

3rd Annual Land, Water, and Culture Conference and Seed Exchange


3rd Annual

Land, Water, and Culture

Conference and Seed Exchange

“Honoring our Relationship with Food”

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Northern NM College, Española, New Mexico

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Dr. Pang shares information about genetic engineering


8am registration

9am opening prayer

10am community updates and presentations

12pm lunch

1pm santa clara dancers

2pm seed ceremony

3pm recognition of traditional farmers

4pm seed exchange

5pm closing

Farmers and ranchers are specially invited to this conference. You who are seed savers will be honored as part of the seed ceremony. We will be discussing ways to increase the cultivation of foods that are spiritually and culturally meaningful to our communities. We will also discuss ways to meet the need for seeds that are adapted to our climate and water scarcity as we prepare to transform and regenerate our local food systems and give new life to our agricultural traditions.

Pre-Register by calling 505-995-9644. Donations will be accepted at the door.

Seed Conference Flyer

Acequia Water Banking Workshop

State Archives Building, 1205 Camino Carlos Rey, Santa Fe

For hundreds of years, acequias have reallocated unused water rights within the same acequia for use by the other parciantes. However, under state law, unused water rights were subject to loss for non-use. In 2003, the legislature authorized acequias to operate “water banks” to provide acequias with the tools to protect water rights from loss for non-use. It acts as a “paper trail” documenting that water not used by a parciante is still in use by the remainder of the parciantes. In this workshop, we will discuss the NMAA Water Banking Template, which is a method for doing water banking including draft guidelines for operation and forms for documentation of banked water rights.