Red Willow Center is an indigenous run, non-profit located on Taos Pueblo in northern New Mexico. We were founded in 2002 with the mission:
To reclaim the agricultural heritage of Taos Pueblo and restore its traditional food systems.
In this farm's 20 years of operation, this mission has been pursued in many different ways including focusing on renewable energy within agriculture. As part of this, a GARN system was installed to enable year-round food production in two heated green houses. This system, and the ability to produce year round, gained much attention from outside sources. We are grateful to those who have come before us, for the time, energy, and resources they have put into this farm to bring it where it is today.
In the 2022 season at Red Willow Center, we are working to recenter our actions and intentions on the original mission. In this, we have simplified our farming practices, which means we have opted to not use the GARN to heat our greenhouses over the winter, but rather rest their soil, which has become depleted over the years from continual production. While the soil rests, we are restoring it through cover crops and compost, which has given us the opportunity to move our focus to our outside fields, and grow food in conjunction with the natural seasons and cycles of Nature. In this simplification, though we are not growing year round, this does not mean we are growing less food by any means!
Our outside growing space includes three fields for our market garden crops, which include over 30 different crops, and 80 different varieties of open pollinated seeds. We also have two traditional fields in which we are growing corn, beans, and squash for the Pueblo. Our market garden space totals approximately 1/3 acre, and our traditional fields about 1/10th of an acre. At half way through our growing season, we have been harvesting an average of 600lb of food weekly! We still have more than half of our beds which have not been harvested from, as well as our whole traditional field waiting for its time. Additionally, because we are not growing year round, we are focusing more on food preservation and seed saving during the growing season which will provide food for winter months. These practices are allowing us to provide ample amounts of food for the Pueblo community during the growing season and beyond, which in turn allows us to recenter on our mission of reclaiming traditional agricultural and food systems of Taos Pueblo.
Though we are producing much food this season, to be a production farm is not our main goal. We wish to provide food for the community, but we also wish to make our center a space for learning and healing for members of Taos Pueblo where they can reconnect with the land and their agricultural heritage. What we have accomplished this season would not be possible without the youth and community engaging with the plants and working the land. The learning and healing both come by way of simply interacting with the plants, land, and others. Both youth and community members have spoken of healing that has come to them through our center, and we are honored to have provided a space for this to happen.
We hope to continue down this path of simplified farming practices, learning and healing as we go. As such, we are working to be more sustainable by improving the current food and seed preservation space we have, as well as expanding our capacity by building a seed bank. If you are interested in supporting our efforts, please consider donating, as we are always in need of finical support to keep our organization operating as a resource for Taos Pueblo. Thank you!
Sustain our on-going efforts to create better food access and provide Taos Pueblo youth with educational opportunities on a farm.