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.
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.
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.
INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN APPRENTICE?
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.
LOS SEMBRADORES TEAM MEMBERS
Meet the next generation of acequia farmers rooted in culture and tradition!
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.
My name is Boden Franklin. I grew up in El Salto, just north of Taos. After high school I spent some years living outside of the US, but returned to New Mexico in 2020. I currently live, farm and raise a small herd of sheep in San Cristobal with three of my dear friends. I am a plumber and natural builder. I love spending time with the water and being in the mountains. It’s an honor to join the Los Sembradores program and to learn from such incredible acequia knowledge keepers. I care deeply about building food autonomy in our communities through reviving and protecting traditional farming practices, planting ancestral seeds and regenerating land and land-based lifeways. I believe in the power of our acequia communities to protect and heal the land and our beloved water. I am looking forward to learning more about building soil health, making remedios and caring for fruit trees.
My name is Claudia Vialpando, I’m 20 years old, and I grew up in Rio Rancho, and recently moved further north. I like to snowboard, crochet, and practice my photography skills. I want to see the growing process of the foods I eat. I’m excited to learn about remedios and certain healing properties of plants, I’m also excited to learn more about beekeeping. So far I’ve already learned a lot in the garden. I really enjoyed learning that queen bees have baby queens who take some of the swarm and leave to find a new place to start her own hive. Also there are so many different types of bees for instance there are bees that live underground, and bumble bees don’t make much honey at all.
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)