CORRALES, NM (KRQE) – A group in central New Mexico is working to build a network of Native farmers by providing education on Indigenous practices of agriculture. The Indigenous Farm Hub is in its third year of operation and has a mission to revitalize Indigenous culture and customs in agriculture and facilitate Indigenous food access and sovereignty with tribal communities.
Clarence Hogue is the director of communications and outreach for the Indigenous Farm Hub. He says the pandemic highlighted some of the major issues Indigenous communities are dealing with such as food security, food access, and food sovereignty. “We want to acknowledge that we are still taking care of land that once belonged to people that lived in this area generations ago,” Hogue said.
The 17-acre field is already providing fresh produce to the community through the Community Supported Agriculture program. The organization has it set up like a subscription service, where supporters can subscribe for the season and receive six to eight fresh products every week until the end of October.
“With land issues, I think we have a lot of land that could be used for farming and growing our own food, and really teaching our people to get back into that part of our culture because I think a lot of us are land-based , Hogue said. “Those resources are what sustains life for us. So we just want to help our younger generation to really get back into what it means to take care of the land so that we can grow our own food.”
Last season, they were able to provide about 100 families with fresh produced grown on the farm. Hogue said they have 30 different root vegetables growing in addition to some grains.
This year, the Indigenous Farm Hub also launched a resident farmer program that allows participants to tend to the farm and take that education back to their communities. “The thinking behind that is to bring in people from the different communities that we partner with,” Houge said. “They come to the farm a few days a week and invest their time to learn some of the things that we’re doing here but also it’s a reciprocal relationship. We’re also learning from them as well.”
Hogue said the goal of the resident farmer program is to allow more rural communities, those often without access to fresh produce, to have the opportunity to create their own sustainable food source. The organization also works to decrease the rates of food insecurity, poverty, and diet-related diseases that affect the Native American population.
Eileen Schendo, one of the farmers in residence, said it was important for her to be part of this project because she wants to change how young Indigenous people view farming. “For us, I think it’s important that once we’ve seen these things work, to give back and show others that there’s possible ways,” Schendo said. “As we develop these ideas of what could be in our communities, I think a lot more people will have the support to not only purchase from them, but as tribes also grow, we’re huge economic stakeholders here in the state,
Schendo grew up learning about agriculture and farming in the Jemez and Cochiti pueblos. She said embracing the Indigenous ways of farming can benefit New Mexico as a whole.
“Especially for tribal communities, this is something historically that we’ve done, which is to grow to the amount where you can feed your communities. Food and hunger issues are huge within the state of New Mexico and I just feel like I’m very fortunate to be here and around a bunch of team members who are really working toward this one goal,” Schendo said.
Indigenous Farm Hub CSA participants sign up and pay in the spring with a discounted rate. CSA shares start at $650 for at least six fresh items per week until the week of Oct. 24. Membership is accepted all year at a pro-rated price. For more information, visit the Indigenous Farm Hub website.