Tesuque Agricultural Initiative
|Address||9 miles North of Santa Fe, NM directly off of Highway 84/285|
|Head of Environmental Department||John Stokely|
|Head of Farming||Emigdio Ballon|
In 2006, the Tesuque Agricultural Initiative was implemented. This outlined plans to transform 40 acres of land into use for farming. By 2007 15 acres had been developed with new plans to expand it to 80 acres. Today, the Tesuque Pueblo farms provide food for the entire community and are an excellent example of sustainability and can be used as an example by other pueblos. The development of the farms has created many jobs for people in the community which has aided in their independance. They are certified organic, are hoping to implement biodiesel fuel and do not run their machinery year round.
Tesuque Farming Department
The Tesuque Farming Department consists of four people who work full time on the farm. The head of the department is Emigdio Ballon who has a degree in plant genetics. Ballon is very passionate about farming and sustainability and has been working very hard for the last 4 years to make the Tesuque farms as successful as they are.
The farms contain thousands of crops some of which include; peaches, apricots, plums, pears, cherries, grapes, apples, asparagus, bee hives, medicinal herbs, and many other edible crops.
A compost heap system is being developed to decrease solid waste by incorporating it into the farms. The crops are watered by a Drips Irrigation System which is a series or sprinklers placed in between crops and/or trees on the farms. They are turned on late night or early morning before the strong sun comes out. This is part of a water conservation effort and save 20%-40% of water any given day. They have a short growing season because the soil, thus the roots, does not get warm enough. They place straw beds around the trees in the orchard to keep the roots warm. They also cover the base of the tree trunks with a unique mixture that keep the bugs from eating the trees. They plan on creating a weather monitoring station as well as remove non-native trees from the reservation which are believed to take up more water then native trees. They will replant with native trees once the non-native have been removed.
The Seed Bank is under construction and sits eight feet deep into the earth just a short walk from the farms. It will store native seeds and allow them to study all of the physiological aspects of the seeds. The walls of the seed bank are insulated by tires that are covered by a adobe and straw mixture. Construction is expected to be finished by June 2012. Modern day building codes have slowed down the construction process.
Just down the road from the Tesuque Farms is the Tesuque Green House. This green house contains 25,000-30,000 crops that were planted in the green house in March. These plants will be transferred to the Tesuque Farms the first and second weeks of May and planted in the Earth individually by hand. Every day each plant is given a few drops of a special solution that is considered to have "good energy." This is a tradition that ancestors have practiced and is still followed today.
Directly next to the farms, the frames of several Hoop Houses have been installed in which crops will be grown year round. As of April 2012 the frames of the Hoop Houses are up but the plastic around them has not been installed due to strong winds. Plans to install solar panels have been made to create the energy needed to heat them. The clubhouses will also use drip irrigation from ground sprinklers to water these plants.
In 2007, they begun hosting an annual symposium at the Intergenerational Center at Tesuque Pueblo called “Sustainability and Food Security for the Twenty First Century and Beyond” which features speakers from national as well as local organizations to further agricultural education. The panel discusses dry farming and water management techniques, heirloom seed saving and cleaning methods, traditional crops for nutrition and cultural health, medicinal herb cultivation, and spiritual agricultural. The symoposium is now held at a bigger facility located outside of the pueblo to accomodate more people.