N’de is the Apache word “the people”. Our main goal here at N’de Farms is promoting food sovereignty in a food desert, using sustainable agriculture techniques. We operate and sell at a farmers market here in Mescalero, NM. All of the vegetables we grow and sell at a discounted price. The money we make is put back into the garden in the way of seeds and equipment. The actual N’de farms itself is maybe a quarter acre of land with two greenhouses a seed house and some area around to plant in. Every summer the fish hatchery that the farm is located on hires highschoolers and recent graduates to help out on the many projects we do. We used this opportunity to teach them different small scale farming techniques. This means the garden is filled with different little garden experiments that showcase different growing methods. We have a small two foot by four foot walipini, which is a subterranean greenhouse. It has two advantages, helping the tomatoes in it hold moisture and reach deeper moisture and it will help keep them warmer in cool weather with a small cold frame over them. We also built a small hugelkultur. Hugelkultur is a technique where you bury a stump under compost. The stump holds moisture like a sponge and eventually breaks down releasing nutrients back into the soil.
Our farmers market started out slow but our now picking up speed. When we first started the farmers market didn’t have many customers but as out squash and chili ripened, our customer base grew. People will come for vegetables and end up hanging out there socializing with us and other customers. It’s become a social hub. We probably sell and give away at least a hundred pounds if not more, every week. Our largest harvest so far was over two hundred and fifty pounds, and we came back with maybe thirty pounds after market. I feel like we are only making a small dent in the food desert but I also feel like there is a lot of potential in the community, and in the future it will have more local foods.