Farmers to learn about hemp, acequia mapping at conference

By Paula Garcia
New Mexico Acequia Association
Posted 8/23/19

“My family has been a big inspiration to me in my decision to be a farmer,” said Donne Gonzales, a farm trainer with Los Sembradores Farmer Training Project in Chamisal. “It takes a community to make farming successful.”

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Farmers to learn about hemp, acequia mapping at conference

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Young farmers from Northern New Mexico will gather at Los Luceros Historic Ranch on Friday (Aug. 23) to share their stories about how they started in agriculture and what support is needed to increase the number of young farmers and ranchers in New Mexico.

“My family has been a big inspiration to me in my decision to be a farmer,” said Donne Gonzales, a farm trainer with Los Sembradores Farmer Training Project in Chamisal. “It takes a community to make farming successful.”

Emily Arasim, who completed the training program last year, added, “Young farmers need access to land and water, support in the form of training and a network of other farmers to continue learning.”

The average age of farmers in New Mexico, according to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, is 59.8, the second highest in the United States. However, according to data compiled by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, the state has some hopeful signs. The number of farms has increased from 15,170 in 2002 to 25,044 in 2017 and 41 percent of that increase is due to women farmers. Data for New Mexico also shows that 26 percent of the total farmers are beginning farmers. The average age of beginning farmers is 50.1, suggesting that many people are returning to farming after retirement.

Hemp is one of the topics that will also be covered at the conference. “We consider hemp an opportunity for greater equity for small-scale farmers,” said Toribio Garcia, hemp farmer and Acequia Education Coordinator of the New Mexico Acequia Association. “A high-value crop could be a good complement to locally grown food to support the economic viability of acequia farms.”

The conference will also feature acequia-mapping projects. “Mapping is being used by acequia communities to plan for our future,” said Chavela Trujillo, program assistant and Geographic Information Systems specialist with the NMAA. “Mapping is a participatory process to combine images, maps and information gathered from the community and using that for local decision-making.”

The conference will take place at Los Luceros Historic Ranch, off State Road 68, County Road 41, #253, in Alcalde, New Mexico. For more information or to register for the conference, visit lasacequias.org.

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