Taking Challenges and Turning them into Opportunities.
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******Best of the Permaculture Drylands Magazine - Now OnlineFounded by Scott Pittman circa 1986, PDJ was (and remains) the only publication in the world with the specific focus on Drylands Permaculture.
Growing your own ...
Think you can't do it because you don't have a lot of land???
An interesting article caught our attention about a family in California on a standard city lot (.25A) with a house in the middle that was able to produce 6,000 lbs. (3 Tons) of organic food after a learning curve of a few years. They stacked growing beds to make up for the lack of space and even had a few animals. Check this web site out.
Help to get you started ...
We are lucky to have some terrific resources available to help you grow your own. See tabs below for more information.
You can also post questions on the Sustainable_ABQ Discussion Group which has some very knowledgeable growers or visit the Urban Farmers Forum for helpful discussions . And from Scott Pittman: Best of the Permaculture Drylands Magazine - Now Online.
We have found that shopping at the growers markets around town will not only provide healthful fresh food for your table and allow you to get to know who is growing your food, but our local farmers are incredibly generous with tips and ideas to help you get started.
Start with good soil....
Soilutions Organics Recycling Facility in the South Valley will take your leaves, yard clippings, tree branches, and other green wastes and turn them into compost and mulch for a tipping fee of $4-6 tipping fee/cubic yard for greenwaste material. You can pick up some rich organic soil for your garden or learn some permaculture techniques while you are there.
Idea: Turn your green wastes or table scraps into a healthy garden by learning to compost on your own: watch a video (Lowes), read NM Recycling Coalition's composting brochure, buy a composter or talk to expert Larry Kloepple at the Growers Market. Soilutions recommends vermiculture (also known as worm composting...using worms to make rich soil).
Okay, this a something you need to check into. Michael Martin Melendrez of Soil Secrets in Los Lunas has non-petroleum based products that will not only enhance your soil with beneficial microbes (think gigantic veggies) but will help you save water with drought friendly composition and humus that grabs carbon from the air. What, you only need to water every week instead of every day and you are helping with global warming and sustainability at the same time? Hmmm...might be the next killer app. The photo is an actual cabbage grown in Arizona with Soil Secrets. Check out this important video about how biologically healthy soils sequester carbon.
Have a Plan....
Eric Garrettson (877-4795) of Edible Landscapes fame will also give you a leg up in replacing that lawn or xeriscape with a wonderful garden. Eric runs the Downtown Growers Market and designed the spectacular garden area at the Hubble House (6029 Isleta SW). Go and be inspired. Note: If you would like to volunteer to help Eric with his work and learn from a master, give him a call today!!! We need about 20 Erics for a town this size.
You can also get consulting, planning and design from Bard Edrington at Living Edge Landscaping and Permaculture Designed Habitats. He offers both permaculture design and rainwater harvesting. Call 242-4803 or Bard@livingedgelandscaping.com. Check out Mother Nature Garden or our calendar for excellent classes.
Soilutions, Inc. also provides water harvesting advice and permaculture/garden design. They will provide a plan that YOU can implement or they can also do all of the hard work like building elevated paths, installing water catching swales and enriching your soil if you do not have the time. Try a Square Foot Garden...I like this idea.
PLANTS OF THE SOUTHWEST, a local nursery, offers advice on a wide range of topics including how to start and maintain a vegetable garden and how to handle "trouble spots" in the garden. You can also find healthy organic starter plants at La Montanita Coop or seeds at Santa Fe's Seeds of Change.
Be sure to visit our Events page regularly as often you can pick up seeds, plants, ideas and more from the totally awesome festivals and fairs.
Harvest that Water.....
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume II - by Brad Lancaster is an excellent resource. This book discusses a wide variety of very useful water-harvesting techniques and how to implement them. Brad's first book, Volume 1: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape, has won critical acclaim and many awards. Check out local rain barrel resources under Water Tips.
Extend your Season.....
To lengthen our growing season, David recycled a glass storm door to make a cold frame for tender lettuce and basil. He used straw bales for the walls. Water was "free" from our Arid Solutions rain water harvester.
In addition to cold frames, you might consider a Hoop House. Del Jimenez, agriculture specialist at NMSU in Alcalde recently gave a demonstration class in the South Valley on how to build this type of inexpensive greenhouse (less than $1000). Call Del (505) 852-2668, email@example.com for future classes. A great blog with details for building a hoop house for less than $400 is Alberta Home Gardening. While you are there, browse around as there are some terrific tips (growing potatoes, starting a new garden, etc.).
Add a little protein.....
If you want more than veggies in your Urban garden, you MUST check out the portable chicken coops we saw at the Hubble House event. Gary Ortiz has designed and builds (locally) these wonderful deluxe homes for your very own happy chickens. Can you imagine how good your oh so fresh eggs will taste??? And as you move it around, you have excellent fertilizer for your garden. Contact Gary at 977-7581 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also be sure to visit UrbanChickens.org. Urban Chickens was founded in 2007 by KT LaBadie and her husband Mark Scully. They live in Albuquerque with two chickens named Gloria and Switters, plus two new chicks named Omelet and Buffy and are dedicated to promoting backyard chickens in urban residential landscapes. You might also want to visit ABQ Urban Chickens on DukeCityFix for more good information.
Save some for the winter....
Interested in Canning? Home Canning Preserves Taste, Nutrition and Self-Reliance provides good information. The MRCOG's Agriculture Collaborative provided the following additional links in their recent newsletter:
- The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a great website that offers a variety of information on all types of food preservation. They also link to a free, self-paced online course on home food preservation offered by the University of Georgia.
- The NMSU Cooperative Extension has guides to freezing or canning green chile.
- Wikipedia has a great article on the various methods of food preservation.
- Penn State also has a series of preservation fact sheets/how to's for a variety of foods.
MRCOG also provided an excellent synopsis of a presentation by Patricia Aaron on their website. This article was written by Julie Heinrich..yes the wife of Rep Martin Heinrich.
More Resources (click on Tab for more information
MRCOG Agribusiness Task Force ...
The MRCOG Agribusiness Task Force was formed several years ago to increase awareness of agriculture as a business in the mid-valley and to act as a forum for producers and consumers. The Agribusiness Task Force that wants to help promote the “buy local” trend in the middle valley. If you are an area grower and are interested in rising to the challenge that new markets have to offer, then MRCOG wants to hear from you. Attra also provides an online sustainable agriculture tutorial.
The South Valley Economic Development Center is to provide facilities, resources, and training to support the development of new and expanding small businesses that will create jobs and foster economic revitalization of the South Valley community.
Built in 2004, the 17,000 square foot center also offers flexible leases on office space, a fully-equipped commercial kitchen, and comprehensive business support for small businesses.
NMOCC Organic Certification ...
Want to begin or renew organic certification of your farm, ranch, or value-added product? The NM Organic Commodity Commission will provide information on how to get certified. Joan Quinn, marketing and education coordinator, said the number of certified organic producers in New Mexico grew three-fold over the past 10 years.
“A decade ago we had only about 50 certified growers in the state,” Quinn said. “Now we have about 150. The applications just keep rolling in.”
To be certified, growers must demonstrate that they grow crops using only natural methods without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Organic operations must be inspected and approved by a U.S. Department of Agriculture-accredited agency, such as the NMOCC, Quinn said.
Organic Farming Compliance Handbook - This manual includes materials for use by agricultural professionals interested in what methods, materials, and practices are compatible and consistent with organic standards. Materials were assembled from the most current national, regional, and local sources.
Bernalillo County Extension Service ...
Bernalillo County Extension Service dedicated to bringing agricultural information to Bernalillo County farmers, ranchers and related industries. They will show you how to test your soil and how to interpret a soil test, determine the different types of soils. determine the nutritional (fertilization) requirements of different crops, determine irrigation needs, provide pest management information and pesticide safety, and then how to prepare produce to sell and market.
Sandoval County Extension Service ...
Call Rudy Benevidez at 505-867-2582 or email@example.com Rudy Benevidez is an enthusiast about sustainable agriculture in New Mexico.
Peak Oil and Community Food Security - How organized neighborhoods and small towns are ensuring their future food supply
Permablitzing the suburbs - A permablitz is basically a permaculture-inspired backyard makeover where people come together to share knowledge and skills about organic food production in urban gardens while building community and having fun.
Store Wars is an outreach effort of the Organic Trade Association to educate consumers about the benefits of organic products. (Cute, cute video)
Sustainable Agriculture - Whether you're a beginning farmer, or an experienced agricultural producer interested in transitioning to more sustainable practices, you may want to start by learning more about the principles of sustainable agriculture and some of the "systems" approaches associated with it.
See this short Eprida video that presents the possibility of carbon sequestering from biomass. Very interesting. Eprida offers a revolutionary new sustainable energy technology that will allow us to remove CO2 from the air by putting carbon into the topsoil where it is needed.
John Jeavons, developer of "Grow Biointensive" culture discusses the multitude of benefits offered by sustainable growing methods. - good video.