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 2019, the project has graduated three cohorts with a total of 12 young farmers from our demonstration farm site at Chicoyole Farm in Chamisal. Four more farmers are currently completing the 2020 program.
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 2021 ‘SEMBRADORES’:
“I am Marcos Aragon from a ranching family in Las Vegas NM. I moved around New Mexico to attend NM State and NM Tech, where I majored in mechanical engineering and dabbled in welding. Since COVID-19 hit I have been working on my family ranch where we run beef cattle and horses. Lately I have been focusing on getting a couple of the horses easier under the saddle. I spend my free time riding horseback, reading up on whatever project I am doing, or just studying the night sky. During the Sembradores program I am hoping to get some family land to start producing. I have tried to grow some crops and realized that New Mexico is a unique area and the land needs help (soil amendment, pest control, etc.) before it will produce. I am excited to learn how to combat local problems, as well as plant supplementation and season extension techniques.”
“My name is Amanda López. I am from Peñasco. I have a Master’s in Social Work. My hobbies include reading, more social media than I’d like to admit, crocheting, research and cooking. My goal for this apprenticeship is to connect with my ancestors and learn traditional farming. It is important to me that I learn how to take care of the land and start connecting with the food I eat. I am vegetarian aspiring vegan so I hope to one day grow and process the majority of food I eat. I also want to learn this powerful knowledge to pass it on to the next generation.”
“My name is Alex Rose Gutierrez Jaramillo, I am two-spirit with a beautiful son Eli Saul Rios Jaramillo who I have been blessed to walk this life with. I am a mother, father, sister, brother, farmer, teacher, painter, poet, lover, doer, observer, weaver, and listener. We are learning how to collect water consciously everywhere in our communities and grow food in communion with Earth so that way we are not depleting her and polluting her-Creating & supporting new systems of reciprocation, remediation, appreciation, respect, & balance. Let us gather together by the water let us remind each other how precious she is and give thanks to her & each other so that we may all heal and thrive.”
“My name is Angel Fresquez. I’m 35 years old and a resident of Chamisal. I’ve done the acequias & light ranch work throughout the years. Farming and gardening is something I’ve been interested in. Especially herbs & spices. I enjoy spending as much time as possible outdoors. Mostly hiking & exploring the forest. I remember my grandmother tending to the garden, chickens, canning, etc. Things I should have listened & learned more about. I’m looking forward to using this opportunity as a valuable learning experience for me. I believe that gardening is important, especially given the current state of affairs.”
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)
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
Our team takes applications for the new group of apprentices each year in January/February – CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND APPLY TO BE PART OF THE 2021 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 weekly work stipend.
Our program focuses on providing opportunities for rural and land-based New Mexicans who have connections to their 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