ABOUT THE 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 Fall 2021, the project has graduated five 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
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.
MEET THE 2022 ‘SEMBRADORES’:
My name is Michelle Martinez and I am from Rio Lucio, New Mexico. I have a B.A. in Political Science and Hispano/ Native American Cultural Studies from New Mexico Highlands University. My hobbies are listening to music, reading, nature walks, studying and learning about Northern New Mexico Hispano culture and traditions and the American Southwest. My goal for this apprenticeship is to expand my knowledge of gardening and to further connect to the traditional ways of the Hispano culture. I am looking forward to learning about the acequia irrigation system, local plants and their remedio uses, and seed saving so we can continue our traditional gardens for many generations to come.
My name is Jessica Lujan. I am a reproductive justice advocate, a community-based herbalist and queer farmer from the Pojoaque Valley. I received a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Health Studies from Northern New Mexico College. In 2010, I began working as a full spectrum doula, childbirth educator, and certified lactation educator. I served in the role of manager of the Indigenous Women’s Health & Reproductive Justice Program at Tewa Women United from 2015 through 2022. This year I transitioned from my work with Tewa Women United to offer services through my business, Colibri Corazon, which is dedicated to creating products, opportunities, and experiences that uplift individual and community wellbeing through sustainable herbalism, food as medicine and wellness workshops. I am passionate about good food, connection to Mother Earth and sharing knowledge and story with people in my community around health and healing. I live and farm along the Rio in El Guique, NM with my son and many fur babies.
Hey all, I’m Alex. I love working with my hands, knitting, crocheting, cooking, building, moving and harvesting. One big goal of mine while I’m doing Los Sembradores is to engage deeply with ancestral healing. In the face of neoliberalism and capitalism, our generation needs to learn to care for each other, the land, and dive deep into what it means to be intertwined in survival. I can’t wait to feed the homies, make remedios, witness and participate in these beautiful ecosystems of beings and plants, and pay attention to the ebb and flow of water. I feel humbled doing all this work, and am so honored to be able to learn amongst such amazing leaders. I hope I can bring a sense of excitement and fun, as well as a trusted, listening ear to everyone I’m working with.
We also 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)
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
Our team is currently taking applications for 2022! CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND APPLY TO BE PART OF THE 2022 FARM TRAINING COHORT!
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 for 9 months, generally from late February to late 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.
CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Donne Gonzales, Farm Trainer and Program Coordinator
Serafina Lombardi, NMAA Programs Director