In Service

A Wild Camper erases vandalism in a room that will serve as transitional housing for women and families facing homelessness.

Teenagers are expected to be self-centered, short-sighted, and a little lazy— especially in this digital age. For the past two years, Wild Campers have proven otherwise. After camp director, Keaton Karvas, and the young-adult planmasters took the session in a radicle new direction, the full creative potential, physical vitality, humility, empathy, and untamed idealism of our youth has been on display. Wild Camp now features a service week.

 The teenagers have partnered with St. James Food Pantry, Not Forgotten Outreach, and Heart of Taos, volunteering their time for the greater good. The service-camp session was planned by a group of local teenagers and attended by young people from around the world who selflessly gave of their time for the simple satisfaction of doing right. Historically, the teenage camp session of Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch has focused on leadership development through outdoor adventure, such as rafting and hiking. Now, the youth have sough out deeper adventure.

 Campers left their smartphones at home, living in primitive cabins without electricity and plumbing at the camp facility, and commuted daily to Taos for work projects boosting the efforts of local non-profits. Week 2 of the session took the campers 50 miles into the vast Weminuche Wilderness. Carrying all that they needed on their backs, campers had an opportunity to reflect on their priorities, the importance of community, their personal potential, and opportunities for service going forward in their normal lives.

Wild Campers reflect at Emerald Lake.

Growing a Local Economy

Chris and Rodney Arellano perform.

Questa Farmers Market held 20 successful Sunday markets during the 2018 season, hosting 4 to 9 vendors at each market, and musicians every Sunday. Vendors reported total sales topping $19,000, nearly doubling last year’s impact.

The market had about 1600 patrons during the season. The market grew in vendor and patron participation and supported more featured musicians than the previous season. Financial support came from the Questa Economic development Fund, Chevron’s Community Grants for Good program, and the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association.

QFM accepts WIC and Senior Nutrition Program checks, is a SNAP authorized market, and participates in the double-up-food-bucks program. Double-up makes your dollars worth double when you buy local—NM grown within 80 miles of the market—fruits and vegetables.

QFM will keep focusing on growing a locally strong economy in 2019. Join as a vendor or patronize the market to help all achieve these goals: to support local food production and particularly small-scale agricultural projects, and local entrepreneurs. Make a stronger and more resilient community right here!

For more information about participating in the Questa Farmers Market go to QuestaFarmersMarket.org. The 2019 season will begin June 16 and end Sept 15th. Some vendors will return for a final fall market/festival at Cambalache (date TBA).

www.facebook.com/QuestaFarmersMarket/

www.questafarmersmarket.org

Phone: 575-224-2102

Read the full 2018 season report HERE.

Farms vs Farmers

uncle sam farmer.jpg

Are you a farmer?

Do you want to be a farmer?

Do you have land and want it to be farmed by someone?

Do you want to eat more local food?

Do you live in the Taos / Questa area?

SIGN UP HERE

We are looking to connect farmers with land and resources. Do you need a piece of equipment to take your farm to the next level—but can’t justify the cost? Do you need marketing advice? Do you want to be a farmer when you grow up, but have no idea where to start? Do you want to maintain your agricultural tax exemption, but don’t have the time, energy or expertise to farm your property? We might be able to help! Start by leaving your contact info here.

Heavy Metal

The farmer inspects the harvest with Andre, owner of Wild Leaven Bakery. Thanks to local wheat guru Gogo for this great machine!

Materialism isn’t all bad. Quite the opposite—our society wouldn’t be so wasteful if we valued objects more, rather than treating them as disposable. That’s why I’ve enjoyed scouring the landscape for rusty 1960’s-era farm equipment. Growing field crops calls for a menagerie of machines. From tractor and seed drill to combine and seed cleaner—the one thing they all have in common is breaking down. Going in, I thought farming was about growing food, but turns out it’s really about taking a daily bath in hydraulic fluid. Reluctantly, I’ve become a decent diesel mechanic.

 The ol’ tractor was working well enough to install four acres of ponds for our keyline flood-flow irrigation system. With 20 6-foot gates, we can flow 1 million gallons per hour into each cropland. If you’ve ever flood irrigated the traditional way, you know it involves shoveling mud day and night all week long. Instead, we open the floodgates and send a sheet of water a half-mile in one half hour. We may be the first in the world to attempt this type of watering in an annual cropping scheme. So far, so good…

 Our first crop was Sonoran White Wheat. This is the drought-tolerant wheat that sustained people west of the Mississippi prior to the Green Revolution, and inspired that staple of southwest cuisine—the flour tortilla. In the end, we picked up the ancient wheat with an antique combine. To our amazement and delight, the machine ran flawlessly.

Click to learn more about our adventures on the farm

Summer Campers serve as “human sandbags” in an experimental flood-flow irrigation release.

Sonora Wheat soaks up the last light of the day.

A farmhand cleans the straw walkers

Universal Elements

With LEAP’s education team busy as new Mamas in 2018, we took a break from spring programming. We plan to resume in 2019, with the compelling theme, “Elements ~ building blocks of the Universe.” This year’s theme coincides with The United Nations’ “International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements” and the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the Periodic System. We are excited to explore new territory with our public school students!

Learn more or get involved at LEAPsite.org

 

End of an Era

After a decade of service to the youth, Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch Director, Amy Mann, is retiring. In her tenure at the camp, Amy generously shared her extensive organizational skill-set, artistic flair, and fun-loving attitude with hundreds of campers. She was the spark behind many of our most memorable camp traditions, and has performed much of the less glamorous behind-the-scenes grunt-work to create a world-class month-long residential summer camp annually out of thin air.

Amy and pals back in ‘09

Amy will continue brining beauty and fun into the world in her career as a showbiz costume department ager dyer. She made it clear she wasn’t stepping away just to paint bloodstains on Hugh Jackman’s pectorals, but also to make way for the next gen camp staffers. In her farewell address, Amy expressed poignant satisfaction in seeing her “babies” (former summer campers) growing into their full potential by rising to the challenge of producing our one-of-a-kind camp program.

Lucky for us, Amy Mann has joined the Localogy Board of Directors. In that capacity, we will no doubt continue to benefit from Amy’s greatest gift to camp—a deep heartfelt love for the campers we serve. Thank you Amy!

Questa Stories

This project is a collection point and archive for local stories, oral histories, conversations, images and artifacts of, by and about the communities, peoples and places of North Central New Mexico. In 2018 we started conducting and recording interviews with locals. We also recorded stories and took images of artifacts and scans of photos shared by participants in a wonderful event, facilitated by Estevan Rael-Galvez on July 8, organized in partnership with the Questa History Trail. (We are processing the data from this event; look for upcoming postings on the website!) We have printed Fotohistorias - enlarged historical photos as “Pop-up” installations - and will place these around Questa; keep an eye out for them! In 2019, Questa Stories is honored to be partnering with “Manitos,” a larger, Mellon-funded project, serving several rural communities within Taos and Sandoval Counties, among which are Questa, Cerro, Costilla and Amalia.

Learn more or get involved at QuestaStories.org

Men threshing wheat. Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 521836 Photographer: Irving Rusinow, Questa, NM circa 1941

Roots ~ Raices

It was beautiful weather on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Montoso Campground at Wild Rivers as over 250 people arrived to explore the theme “Roots ~ Raices” at LEAP’s 10th anniversary outdoor contemporary art celebration. Art installations included a “wall” of rooted willows, innovative backpack kits for “short adventures in place” and root words flapping in the breeze; hands-on activities were for all ages, notably a booth in homage to the lowly beet. Participants were captivated by impassioned young poets at the afternoon Poetry & Music Salon, a bountiful locally sourced (and served) feast, soulful tunes, and informative artist talks at dusk. Featured artists were Scott Sutton, Kacie Smith and UNM Land Arts of the American West artist group (a selection of which also comprised our poets this year); contributing artists were Nicholette Codding and Martha Shepp; featured local musicians were Mad Cat Jack Lorang, Mark Dudrow and Kate Mann. The local feast featured Questa Farmers Market produce and cooks. Approximately one third of the visitors hailed from within a 20-mile radius, and the other two-thirds were from further afield New Mexico towns and cities and surrounding states. NeoRio draws a wide array of participants, diverse in age, interests and cultural backgrounds.  

Join us for NeoRio 2019 on Saturday, September 21 at Wild Rivers to explore “Elements ~ building blocks of the Universe.”

Learn more or get involved with NeoRio at LEAPsite.org

Frontier Town

Questa Mayor Mark Gallegos presides over the opening of a downtown park

Questeños had a love-hate relationship with the molybdenum mine going back 90 years. Over its boom and bust history, the mine provided the economic backbone for the village and an honest living for generations of hard rock miners. As a Superfund site, the moly mine also leaves a legacy of soil, water and air pollution. When Chevron Mining permanently shuttered the mine, 300 locals found themselves abruptly out of work.

 Village leaders sprang into action—creating an economic development plan to fill the void. The plan (funded by Chevron Mining) envisions a sustainable and diverse economic future for Questa, New Mexico.  Outdoor recreation, art and culture, and a reemergence of local agriculture are key. Seeing as that’s our mission at Localogy, we were ready and willing do our part.

Two dignitaries cut the ribbon to open the new park.

 Through a grant from New Mexico Resiliency Alliance, hustled by Charlie Deans, Localogy sponsored a Façade Squad in partnership with Ocho Community Space and the historic Rael’s Market to spruce up downtown. With funding from the Questa Economic Development Fund we also sponsored the creation of a downtown park. Both projects were aimed at enticing tourist dollars to linger in a more vibrant village center.

 The flourish of activity has already inspired holiday events, a weekly makers and growers market, a studio tour, an oral history and historic trail project, and a monthly newspaper. Other development initiatives have included trout habitat improvement, a business park, revolving loan program, and a land and water board. Our LEAP program has been leading the way with major events at the newly minted Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, as well as numerous gallery openings, showcases, and community events downtown.

 Questa is a frontier community—resilient from the start. Questa was here long before the mine. It’s closing has been a hardship, but also an opportunity for Questeños to come together to forge a new economy.

You Are What You Eat—Be a Local

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Well folks, I finally bought the farm:

Land: 60 acres
Water: 35 million gallons, flood irrigation

Climate: 115 – 135 frost-free days

Who feeds you? What if you could get all of your food from people you know? You would know your food was grown right. Your money would stay local and come back around to you. You might have some food security come apocalypse time…

Taos County is big on local food. Our farmer’s market is the 3rd largest in the state.  Many restaurants make a point of sourcing local ingredients. There are thriving CSAs, growers’ cooperatives, and value-added producers.  Yet, nearly all of us still go to the grocery store for the majority of our calories. We survive on food from afar.

Our goal at Costilla Farm is to grow our own food—all of it.  Cereal grains, beans and peas, meat, eggs, dairy, maybe some fruits and nuts, whatever survives in this cold, dry, windy valley. There are plenty of excellent fresh vegetables available locally, so we’ll leave those to the experts (see Cerro Vista Farm).

I may be a fool to think we can do this, but it has been done here before. Not long ago this place was totally self-reliant. I know we won’t get rich farming in the high desert. One thing is for sure: we will get educated.

If we prove to be even slightly competent, we should end up with some extra food. That’s where you come in. If you live nearby, you will be able to get this well-rounded-100%-local diet. Just click the get fed button below and we’ll keep you in the loop. First come…first fed.

Summer campers from Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch jump with joy at the first flood flow on Costilla Farm

Elementary Students = Students In Their Element

When Ms. Annalise said she wanted to take her second graders backpacking I said, “Our backpacks are bigger than your backpackers.”  But doing the impossible is nothing new for the Kindergarten through 2nd graders at Roots & Wings Community School. It’s rare for even high school students to go into the wilderness overnight, even at the most ambitious and exclusive private schools.  And here we are at this little public school camping out for three days in the mountains with five-year-olds.

2nd Graders head back to civilization

It’s a credit to the teachers that—in a state where the Governor is bent on shutting down all but the largest and most average schools—RWCS continues to get as far out there as a public school can be. Take Mr. VanEvery’s first trip with Localogy as an example.  His 3rd – 5th graders were studying food systems. In a planning meeting, he told me not to shop for Wednesday dinner because we were going to harvest it from the mountain! Pit roasted goat and prickly pear cactus never tasted so good.

The Roots & Wings mission is to engage the head, hands and heart   ̶  enabling students to achieve more than they think possible and to take an active role in our ever-changing world. Students who spend their days in tidy rows of desks will find themselves woefully unprepared in the real world. The world is a dynamic place, and so too must be our schools!

A 4th grader growing a brain

Rewilding the Way

Todd Wynward and Tyler Eshleman led the first Rewilding the Way Wilderness Trek in 2016. The expedition gave adult participants an opportunity to step into the wilderness for a time of reflection, space from dominant culture, spiritual formation, and renewal of vision and energy for a lifetime of climate and justice advocacy.

Todd Wynward (Localogy Board Prez / Author of Rewilding the Way: Break free to follow an untamed God) and Tyler Eshleman (Tilt Program Coordinator) and some wild-ones have been to the mountain top.

Rewilding included backpacking deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and rafting down the Rio Grande—grappling with the complexity of water in a place where water is so precious, yet is also squandered and polluted. The challenges participants faced on the trip afforded them a deeper understanding of the ways in which they engage with, and learn from, their own environment.

The Rio Grande, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the people of this watershed have much to teach. The trek empowered those who participated to not only learn and become attentive, but to return to their own communities and act with a "rewilded" spirit.