- Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, other
- Crop Production: forest farming, pollinator habitat, water management
Our specialty crop research project aims to enhance knowledge about drought-resistant crops and desert plants, as well as mitigate soil erosion and pollution, restore our local ecosystem and regrow our plant and animal pollinator population by restoring one acre with CAM (Crassulacean Acid Metabolism) succulents and other native plants.
The initiative will also address food insecurity and agrobiodiversity to enhance producer resilience and broaden American food diets with the reintroduction of traditional indigenous and campesino crops native to AridAmerica.
We will employ indigenous-inspired and contemporary water harvesting structures, including dams, Zuni bowls, zaja y bordo (Mexican ditch-and-berm) and Keyline structures to promote the understanding and use of irrigation-less agriculture, especially among drought-plagued producers in the Southwest. We are currently using this methodology on two acres of our land, as part of our NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program grant initiative.
Working with our technical adviser, Dr. Sangu Angadi, we will implement Semi-Circular Buffer Strips that employ a half-circle form of crop planning to mitigate soil erosion, harness water, and serve as a wind buffer. We will solely depend on water harnessed by monsoon rains, snowmelt and the significant condensation that we experience in fall and winter when temperatures warm up by 30-40 degrees on a daily basis.
This project will serve as an experimental model and provide baseline data for expansion of ecological regeneration on 350 acres, which will be supported by a future ecosystem restoration camp in the neighboring one-acre field.
Our Outreach Activities will include
- Onsite workshops focused food forest development supported by water harvesting structures and terraces
- Regular blog posts on our and partners’ websites
- Presentations at 2023 Tucson & Marfa Agave Festivals
- Radio talk show about sustainable agave agriculture
- Mezcal and agave educational sessions that address a number of agricultural and environmental issues.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Address food security and agrobiodiversity to enhance resilience and broaden American food diets by optimizing land management and sustainable production systems with the reintroduction of traditional indigenous and campesino crops native to AridAmerica.
- Conversion of one acre at Waterfall Meadow on Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms (Cerrillos, NM) into a permaculture food forest with CAM succulents & native plants found in the Galisteo Basin of New Mexico. This initiative will serve as an experimental model and provide baseline data for expansion of ecosystem restoration on 350 acres, which will be supported by a future ecosystem restoration camp in the neighboring one-acre field.
- Employ indigenous-inspired and water harvesting structures including one-rock dams, Zuni bowls, zaja y bordo (Mexican ditch and berm terraces to support agave) and keyline structures to promote the understanding and use of irrigation-less agriculture, especially among producers in the American Southwest, which has experienced a multi-decade doubt and will likely continue to considering climate change forecasts.
- Working with our technical adviser, Dr. Sangu Angadi, implement Semi-Circular Buffer Strips. Using a media luna (half circle) approach we will use this form of crop planning to mitigate soil erosion, harness water, and serve as a wind buffer (wind combines with precipitation, being the primary cause of soil erosion in the high mountain desert). We will not be using irrigation and solely depending on water harnessed by rain, snowmelt and the significant condensation that we experience in fall and winter in Northern New Mexico when temperatures warm up 30 to 40 degrees on a daily basis.
- Promote awareness about the importance of using native seed and seedlings for ecological system restoration and increase availability of native seed and seedlings for habitat restoration and conservation by establishing a seed bank via a partnership of the Applied Ecology’s Southwest Seed Partnership Program and the development of a starts nursery in our 33’ geodesic grow dome.
- Contribute to the knowledge in specialty crop research focused on drought-resistant crops and desert plants, including ten CAM succulents and native plants highlighted by Gary Paul Nabhan, Patricia Colunga-GarcíaMarín and Daniel Zizumbo-Villarreal in the June 2022 paper “Comparing Wild and Cultivated Food Plant Richness Between the Arid American and the Mesoamerican Centers of Diversity, as Means to Advance Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the Face of Climate Change.”
- Mitigate soil erosion, restore soil health and our local ecosystem, as well as regrow our plant and animal pollinator population.
- Establish and supply existing pipeline for indigenous/ethnic food markets and nurseries for CAM succulent products, especially those serving clients seeking ecological restorative vegetation, which is experiencing a supply shortage.
- Mitigate local pollution caused by carbon monoxide and dust that blows over from the neighboring motocross track by planting Honey Locust trees and shrubs as a windbreak. Parallel to the project meadow is a large berm that was likely created by the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate flooding from an arroyo that runs perpendicular to the berm to the Santa Fe Railroad line that runs through the Galisteo Basin along the Galisteo River.