Home » Los Sembradores Farmer Training Project


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. It 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.

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.

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.

Register and receive updates about future public workshops and training opportunities here

Watch special farm wisdom & garden plática videos shared by the Sembradores team during the covid-19 pandemic here

Donne Gonzales

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. 


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)


Our team is currently taking applications for 2023! CLICK HERE TO APPLY TO JOIN SEMBRADORES 2023! APPLICATIONS ARE DUE BY APRIL 10, 2023!

Los Sembradores farm apprentices must be at least 18 years of age – and be able 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.

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.


Donne Gonzales, Farm Trainer and Program Coordinator

Serafina Lombardi, NMAA Programs Director

(505) 995-9644