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PRESS RELEASE: Acequias Gather in Response to Climate Change and Pandemic, Senator-Elect Ben Ray Lujan to Speak

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 7, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT

Paula Garcia, Executive Director, lamorena@lasacequias.org, 505-231-7752

Emily Arasim, Communications Coordinator, emily@lasacequias.org

Acequias Gather in Response to Climate Change and Pandemic, Senator-Elect Ben Ray Lujan to Speak

(Santa Fe, NM) – The first ever virtual Congreso de las Acequias, the annual membership meeting of the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), will convene on Saturday, December 12, 2020 via Zoom.

Harold Trujillo, NMAA President said, “This year, the Congreso will capture an important moment in history with strategies for building stronger communities that will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and that will adapt with lessons learned from ongoing drought.”

“The year 2020 has hit us hard in rural New Mexico with both drought and pandemic,” said Paula Garcia, Executive Director, “Our resolve to continue building food sovereign communities while adapting to climate change has grown during this time of adversity.”

The theme for the gathering will be “Unidos con Fuerza: Acequias Rising to meet the Challenges of our Time.” The gathering will honor the hard work of acequias to maintain the “essential work” of keeping water flowing to farms and communities throughout the pandemic. The agenda also addresses some of the most pressing issues facing acequias, such as climate change resilience, deepening youth engagement, and strengthening the ability of acequia-based farmers and ranchers to grow more food for their families and communities.

Some of the highlights include remarks from Senator-elect Ben Ray Lujan, who will discuss recent policy gains at the federal level with the Farm Bill and passage of legislation recognizing acequia and land grant traditional uses on lands managed by the US Forest Service. NMAA leaders will give a ‘State of the Acequias’ report which will highlight the ways that acequias responded to the drought and pandemic in 2020. A declaration on Water, Food, and Youth will summarize some broad strategies for building stronger communities through local, grassroots actions.

As is customary, the Congreso de las Acequias will feature music and poetry along with the  Bendición de las Aguas, or blessing of the waters. As means of adapting the regular in-person blessing, participants are invited to send pictures of themselves with their acequia or river to be shared during the gathering.

The Congreso will take place on Saturday, September 12th from 10am to 2pm with a lunch recess. Registration is free of charge and open at https://lasacequias.org/congreso/. For more information, call 505-995-9655.

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The New Mexico Acequia Association – www.lasacequias.org

The mission of the New Mexico Acequia Association is to protect water and our acequias, grow healthy food for our families and communities, and to honor our cultural heritage.

Semillas pa’ la Gente

During this time of crisis, we are grateful to have strong communities and land-based traditions to hold us together as we try to minimize suffering and loss of life from COVID-19. Most importantly, we hope that you, your families, and your neighbors are safe and healthy. We have learned from this crisis that local food, family and youth connections to the land, and caring for neighbors are vital to our survival and well-being. 

Now is a great time to be planting seeds! 

Our acequias and food traditions have never been more important. Generations who came before us kept our acequias flowing, cared for the land and water, and saved seeds. As we prepare for a profound transformation of our economies, educational systems, and communities, we will continue to be vigilant in protecting our water, acequias, and farmland. We also have a renewed focus on engaging more families in growing gardens with the water, land, and seeds that are our common heritage. Seeds carry ancestral memory and they also carry our potential for the future. By sharing and growing seeds, we are shaping the future for our children and grandchildren, and also taking practical action to ensure health, food access and food security for our communities

We encourage you to start your gardens this Spring! We are asking you to share stories about your gardens and we are giving away seed packets to community members who need seed.

We invite you to participate in our project Semillas pa’ la Gente!

The New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) has launched the ‘Semillas pa’ la Gente’ campaign to provide seeds to community members who are in need of seeds to plant gardens and grow food for their families and neighbors. We are sharing native seeds such as corn, peas, havas, beans, and calabazas as well as popular, nutritious vegetables such as chard, kale, beets, and carrots. As soon as you plant your seeds, you can have fresh greens in about 30 days! 

There are several ways to participate:

* If you already have access to seeds and are ready to start planting, we encourage you to share your stories with our statewide network of acequiero/as a source of inspiration and hope at this challenging time. 

* If you do not have access to the seeds you need to farm this yearwe invite you to fill out our online request form by clicking here or call our office to make a request for seeds. NMAA will be working to safely mail out packages of seeds, including both vegetables and traditional crops.

* You can share your planting stories with us on social media using #SemillasPaLaGente; by emailing your stories to donne@lasacequias.org or emily@lasacequias.org; or by adding a comment at the bottom of this blog.

* All participants will also be invited to conference calls and web-based workshops for you to share your stories about your gardens and to ask questions from other gardeners and farmers. 

WE KINDLY ASK THAT YOU ONLY REQUEST SEEDS IF YOU DO NOT ALREADY HAVE ACCESS TO SEEDS FROM ANOTHER SOURCE. Before making a request, please have a conversation with your elders, family and neighbors to see what is already available in your community. We will be prioritizing sharing seeds with land-based peoples and acequia community members, but welcome anyone who is in-need to make a request.

NMAA will work to safely mail out packages of seeds. We hope to get seeds in the mail as soon as possible, but thank you in advance for your patience as we get this new system going! We will continue fulfilling request until our seed stock runs out.

Acequias & Climate Change: Learning Together and Adapting for the Future

Join acequias for a day of learning and dialogue about a future shaped by climate change. The day will include an overview of the impacts of climate change on New Mexico’s watersheds and rivers from Dr. David Gutzler, UNM professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences followed by interactive discussions about repartimiento traditions (old and new), water harvesting, infrastructure improvements, building healthy soils, and other adaptations. We will explore practical responses as well as how climate change will affect our advocacy on water, land, energy, and agriculture policy.

June 27th 2019

9:00am-3:30pm

Juan I Gonzales Agricultural Building

Taos, NM

Please register for this workshop at: https://form.jotform.com/91636531656159

Or RSVP with the NM Acequia Association at (505) 995-9644 or email Olivia@lasacequias.org

 

Sponsored by the New Mexico Acequia Association, Embudo Valley Regional Acequia Association, Taos Valley Acequia Association, Rio Chama Acequia Association, and La Asociación de las Acequias del Valle de Mora.