It is the end of a great growing season here in Taos, New Mexico and wonderful experience with the young adults who joined the program. Working alongside Tiana Suazo, Raymond Wilson, Gabriel Romero, Melina Suazo and Ken Antonio has been one of the best summers I’ve had. Together we cultivated the plot at TCEDC to produce kale, chard, spinach, lettuce, yellow melons, sweet red corn, watermelons, red beans, squash, asian greens, beets, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers. Most of the produce was given away to tribal members and tribal programs such as the Senior Citizen Lunch program, but the youth interns had the opportunity to choose five crops to grow for sale at the local famers markets. We wanted to give the youth the experience of market gardening with the help of mentors. Ken had the best sales and averaged $60.00 per week, but the one who made the least was happy to be taking produce home for their large family. Our goal was to inspire them to annually produce a small portion of veggies to contribute to the local food economy. Two of the youth interns asked for seed to plant next spring, so I believe that we were successful.
The twelve-week program ended on September 14, 2018. There are still seeds to collect and the garden needs to be winterized. With the interns gone and TCEDC moving on to other projects, it is my responsibility to complete these tasks. TCEDC has chosen to put on a Southwest Indigenous Food Summit and I have been helping as much as I can. The purpose of the Summit is to showcase Southwest Indigenous food and ways of preparing food and ultimately preserve these practices. The sweet corn and red beans we grew will be used in the Summit as part of a “pre-colonial” demonstration meal.
As a part of my community service I chose to conduct a free music class to give the students the opportunity to lean how music is composed and arranged with a little bit of instrument technique on piano and guitar.. My goal with the class was to provide a risk-free introduction to music. At the beginning of the class all three students were eager attend but towards the end only one remained dedicated to the discipline of music training. Melina Suazo had told me during one class “ I would have started playing guitar a long time ago if I could afford a guitar and lessons”. Even though it was only one student, she inspired me to go back to school and get a teaching certificate to teach guitar.
After working here at TCEDC and mentoring youth I realized that I enjoy the challenge of helping others learn and being part of a team. Working with the land has always been fulfilling hard work for me, and to introduce a new generation to this ancient practice is a great privilege. Next year, I intend to build a market garden on my own property at Taos Pueblo where I will continue to share knowledge of organic gardening with anyone willing to lean and work.