Red Willow Center is an indigenous-run non-profit in 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 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 greenhouses. 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.
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 areas where we grow corn, beans, and squash for the Pueblo. Our market garden space totals approximately 1/3 acre, and our standard fields are about 1/10th acre. At halfway through our growing season, we have been harvesting an average of 600lb of food weekly! We still have over half of our beds that have not been harvested, and our whole traditional field is 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 the winter months. These practices allow us to provide ample food for the Pueblo community during the growing season and beyond, which will enable us to recenter on our mission of reclaiming Taos Pueblo's traditional agricultural and food systems.
2022 Season of Abundance
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 not to 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, allowing us to move our focus to our outside fields and grow food in conjunction with Nature's natural seasons and cycles. In this simplification, though we are not growing year-round, this does not mean we are producing less food by any means!
Though we produce much food this season, being a production farm is not our primary goal. We wish to provide food for the community, but we also want 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. Learning and healing come from interacting with 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 our current food and seed preservation space and expanding our capacity by building a seed bank. If you are interested in supporting our efforts, please consider donating, as we always need financial support to keep our organization operating as a resource for Taos Pueblo. Thank you!