The NMAA Los Sembradores Farming Training Project was established in 2016 to help cultivate a new generation of farmers with deep roots in acequia customs and traditions.

Project Background

This effort is an evolution of farmer training work done previously as a collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee and Northern New Mexico College ‘Sostenga’ Farm. As of 2022, the project has graduated six cohorts with a total of 20 young farmers from our demonstration farm site at Chicoyole Farm in Chamisal.

Apprentices 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.

Our ‘Sembradores’ are recruited from acequia communities in northern New Mexico, and our graduates continue agricultural traditions and are playing active roles in their respective acequias, including restoring ancestral family land which had lain fallow or been under-utilized for years, or even several generations.

In addition to supporting our cohorts of dedicated apprentices, the Los Sembradores Program also offers a yearly series of public farming workshops meant to support and connect a larger network of regional acequia farmers. Past workshop topics have included soil health and restoration; pollinators; and our online Garden Platica Series.

Our Curriculum

We are proud to use a detailed farmer training curriculum developed by renowned farmer and NMAA Concilio (Board) Member, Don Bustos, and the American Friends Service Committee, which we supplement with cultural activities that incorporate acequia customs and practices including:

  • Participation in the annual “sacando de las acequia” or Spring acequia cleaning
  • Seed saving practices and community exchange
  • Traditional food preparation and preservation
  • Herb harvesting and making “remedios” or traditional medicines
  • Involvement in NMAA events, statewide conferences, and other leadership development opportunities.


Meet the next generation of acequia farmers rooted in culture and tradition!

Donne Gonzales

Farm Trainer

Our program is led by Farm Trainer, Donne Gonzales, with support from Edward Gonzales and other experienced farmers and acequiero/as. Growing up on the land, Donne and her family have always maintained summer gardens and small livestock, and this has developed in her a great respect and love for gardening and traditional practices. Donne speaks proudly of how rich we truly are to have sacred land, water, and native seeds – and acequias and farming as a way of life. She believes strongly in sharing gardening skills, traditions, and her querencia for the land and acequias to individuals of all ages.

Juan Lopez

2024 Apprentice

“Hello, my name is Juan Lopez and I am from Peñasco, New Mexico and I am currently living in Llano Largo, New Mexico in Taos County. I am a college graduate with a degree in chemical engineering and a minor in chemistry. I enjoy hiking in the mountains, camping, and snowboarding with my friends. I have a background in growing hemp here in northern New Mexico as well as ranching cattle with my father, and I’m excited to see what the Los Sembradores program can teach me beyond those experiences. I hope to one day become a good produce farmer and hopefully a skilled fruit grower, so that I might be able to make wines and utilize my degree to make extracts of various types from the plants within the area. I have an interest in learning about beekeeping as well. I would someday enjoy trying to make mead from local honey. I would also enjoy learning about farming and harvesting of various types of mushrooms if that is something that could be learned through this program. I believe the knowledge this program gives to new farmers regarding how to properly use the acequia system is extremely valuable and important, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about this trade with a mentor.”

Nicholas Cruz Torres

2024 Apprentice

Nicholas Cruz Torres, born and raised in Las Vegas, NV, grew up hearing whispers of ancestral stories from New Mexico. In 2021, he and his husband, David, embarked on a stewardship journey along the Cañada Seca Acequia. Passionate about reviving traditional healing practices and fostering land and water stewardship, Nicholas envisions community weaving at the heart of collective healing and authentic expression. His love for travel, creativity, nature, and dance fuels his commitment to holding transformative spaces for dreaming, healing, and co-creation. With a deep reverence for ancestral wisdom and a commitment to nurturing harmonious connections between people and the land, Nicholas embodies a holistic approach to wellness and sustainability. Joining Los Sembradores with an open mind and open heart, he trusts this space will teach him the skills, wisdom, and knowledge necessary to continue on this journey.

Elba-Celeste Rudolfo

2024 Apprentice

“Hello! My name is Elba-Celeste. I was born and raised in New Mexico, spending much of my childhood between New Mexico and Mexico experiencing my culture. I am just weeks away from completing my undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico where I have been studying Studio Art, Sustainability Studies, and Race & Social Justice. I am extremely passionate about these intersecting topics and will continue to explore regenerative ecology and land art through my land practices after graduation.

I have grown up observing my grandparents and uncles tending to our family’s spaces in Mexico and New Mexico. My Father’s family, based locally in New Mexico used to be comprised of several land workers, and has decreased substantially. My family in Mexico still produces corn, beans, and chile.

I am grateful to learn and apply the traditional methods that coincide with our beloved and sacred acequias. I am honored to collaborate with my mother and her land in the South Valley of Albuquerque. Because farming skipped a generation with both of my parents, I am working toward continuous reconnecting to our deepest roots.”


Our program focuses on providing opportunities for rural and land-based New Mexicans who have connections to their ancestral acequia systems, but we welcome anyone with interest to contact us.

Interested in growing your skills as a traditional acequia farmer in northern NM?

Want to learn how to increase production and sell commercially?

Looking for ways to put your agricultural land and water rights to use?

Interested in learning best practices & techniques from other local farmers?

Check back for Information on our 2025 Application

The application is normally released in November/December for the following Spring! In the meantime, we encourage you to fill out this form to share your interest in becoming a future apprentice and/or attending public farm workshops!




Applicants must be at least 18 years old and willing to commit to 16-20 hours of work per week from mid-April to mid-November.


Apprentices are paid with a bi-weekly work stipend. We value your time and dedication!


Apprentices are expected to have reliable transportation to get to and from farm site.


Although everyone is welcomed to apply, preference is given to applicants from historic acequia communities.

CONTACT: Donne Gonzales, Farm Trainer & Program Coordinator ( or Serafina Lombardi, Programs Director ( or call (505) 995-9644.

We celebrate our past apprentices:

2017 - Matthew Encinias (Chimayo), Nicanor Ortega (Arroyo Hondo) and Shane Tolbert (Abiquiu)

2018 - Essence Quintana (Llano), Augustine Gonzales (Chamisal), Emily Arasim (Tesuque) and Jordan Lucero (Chimayo/Santa Fe)

2019 - Corilia Ortega (Arroyo Hondo) and Alejandro Mondragon (Llano)

2020 - Aimee Lynn (Taos/Des Montes), Emilio Borrego (Córdova), Simon Patrick Vaughn (Las Trampas), and Jacob Torres (Taos)

2021 - Marcos Aragon (Las Vegas), Amanda Lopez (Peñasco), Alex Rose Gutierrez Jaramillo (Española), Angel Fresquez (Chamisal)

2022 - Alex Griffiths (San Cristobal), Michelle Martinez (Rio Lucio), and Jessica Lujan (El Guique)

2023 - Boden Franklin (El Salto) and Claudia Vialpando (Rio Rancho)