Monday, February 27, 2012

The Rock Stars

Some 4,000 lbs of rocks were plucked by hand today after we rototilled the other half of the field!

Picking rocks (and carrying bucket loads of them!) is for me an amazing exercise and meditation.  I always imagine what our ancestors had to do when they started working a new piece of land...

Will Atkinson brought his 10,000lbs capacity dump trailer today and three large loads of horse manure were spread onto the field.

The manure was then spread evenly over the entire field was rototilled.

The 8" rototiller attachment.

In two days, we prepared 7,500sq' of land for cultivation.

While the machinery was operating in the lower portion of the property, Brian DeBenedetti was quietly building our 19'X8' lean-to greenhouse where our plant starts will soon be hosted.

See Will Atkinson at work!

Thursday March 1
1:00-4:00pm  (see directions here)

Come visit the new farm, stretch your hamstrings and make your back strong...

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If you wish to support this project, you can make a tax-deductible donation here. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jump Start

A quick post to say that the work of preparing the soil began today.  Will Atkinson arrived early this morning with his machinery and worked all day leveling the field and rototilling the soil.

Shortly after, a surprise visit from Gene and Vicki from Cerrillos, with a gift of 2 tons of composted manure (half steer-half horse).  Perfect top-dressing material!

Lots of rocks were removed from along the fence line.


Branches were gathered to create a 8'X20' "mattress" for our first compost pile.

The crew at lunch.

A pile of debris ready to be hauled to the refuse station.

Half of the lower field was rototilled today!

and lots of rocks needed to be picked...

The Heroe of the Day.  Our new friend Will Atkinson.

Thanks everyone for the amazing accomplishments today!

Thursday March 1
1:00-4:00pm  (see directions here)

We need some help tomorrow Monday between 9:00am-3:00pm to pick rocks off the field.  Will Atkinson will be there rototilling with his machinery and I'll be along side the Bobcat picking rocks.  Please come join us for the fun...

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If you wish to support this project, you can make a tax-deductible donation here.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Salvage Operation

On Monday and Tuesday, Brian and I went to Mountainair, 2 hours south of Santa Fe, to salvage material from a tomato greenhouse operation that went out of business.  We unfortunately did not get the greenhouse frame itself but were able to recycle a lot of other material.

Amongst other treasures, we got 50 bales of hay, ten 50-gallon plastic barrels, stainless steel sinks, irrigation pipes and fittings, steel shelving and lumber.

We also took apart growing boxes made of black plastic-covered OSB and will be using the 8'X18" OSB strips for siding on future farm structures.

We will soon go back to get even more exciting stuff; 8 blueberry bushes and some 40 young fruit trees!  An orchard will be created at Gaia Gardens and we'll be looking for an appropriate location on the property for all these young apple, plum, pear, apricot and peach trees.

Thank you Brian for your invaluable help and for the use of your truck!
Thank you Jennie for the loan of your trailer!

And finally thank you Timothy, Moksha, Nikola and Urszula for gifting us all these items that will be put to good use at the new farm...

Farm Day tomorrow
Thursday Feb 23
(bring gloves)

Please see our wish list here and pass the word around.  Let your friends know that donations are tax-deductibles (see donate page here)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

First Walkthrough of the Property

Some twenty adults and four children showed up for our first walk-through of the property.  Gardeners, school teachers, biodynamic gardeners, beekeepers, a water rights specialist and a botanist were amongst our visitors.

Jay Tallmon, the property owner, sharing the history of the land which was part of a 19-acre fruit orchard.

After the walk-through, Will Atkinson (left), his daughter Michelle and Juaquin Lawrence Hershman (center), a biodynamic farmer and master horticulturist (, discussed plans for the soil preparation in all the areas that will be cultivated.  Will offered the use of his earth-moving equipment to help prepare the soil.

Our community work gatherings will begin this week on a regular winter schedule of Thursdays and Sundays from 1:00-4:00pm.  
(if you plan to attend, please bring gloves and sturdy boots as we will begin with moving a lot of debris and rocks).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Here we go!

A year ago, Jay Tallmon and I met to discuss the creation of an urban farm on his 3 1/2-acre property along the arroyo at Yucca and Siringo.  During that time, I have immersed myself in several community garden and farm projects; El Jardin de Guadalupe in San Pancho Mexico, the Dandelion Ranch, in Santa Fe, and Synergia Ranch near Cerrillos, NM.  Needless to say that these experiences have given me some understanding about what it takes to grow food... and community.

After exploring several other pieces of land to conduct a new experiment in community urban farming, Jay's land kept standing out as the best possible location-centrally located, near the bicycle path, with an existing well, close to the SF High School and above all, with an enthusiastic owner willing to have a multitude of activities take place on his property.  Jay's daughters (14 and 15) are thrilled to have farm be birthed on their land.  Claire (15) previously attended the Camino De La Paz Farm School in Espanola and has an interest in keeping goats.  A barn and enclosed pen already exist on the property and will be perfectly suited for goats.

Our first step-BUILDING SOIL. Much has to be done to prepare for spring planting... The soil at Gaia Gardens is like any other soil in Santa Fe-dry, clayish and needing organic matter and water to activate microbial and fungi life.

On Sunday, Jay and I went to Espanola to get moldy hay at a horse ranch. We spread the hay over a portion of the lower field.  The entire area will soon be covered with hay or straw, with horse manure on top.  The area will then be watered and covered with black plastic.  The heat of the sun will "cook" the soil and get it ready for cultivation (turning the organic matter under the surface).

On Tuesday, we went to Arrowhead Ranch in Santa Fe, and got two big loads of fresh manure, some two tons, and spread it over the hay.

It seems that we will need about 10-15 times that volume of material to cover the lower field!!

This is a new experiment in urban farming. with an opportunity to create a multi-faceted project involving several large cultivated areas (up to a total of 1/2 acre), year-round half-buried greenhouse, root cellar, goats, chickens, bees and large compost yard. The property lends itself to welcoming large groups for events and classes. A walk-through will take place on Sunday (see below) and subsequent meetings will be announced via this blog.  We have access to land, a farm truck, and an excavation company will donate their time and equipment to help prepare the soil.
How we organize ourselves to design, finance, develop and run this project is to be determined.  Just as with Dandelion Ranch, I have more questions than answers. I believe that in the doing, and with the right intentions, we are discovering how to self-organize in order to take care of the important tasks of growing food, educating children and fostering regenerative culture.  I am inspired to do this and have a desire to see lots of children involved.

Equipment that has been offered to prepare our soil

A WALK-THROUGH of the GAIA GARDENS PROPERTY will take place this Sunday Feb. 19 at 11:00 am for those interested in helping design, develop and/or tend this new community farm.  The address is 2255 Paseo de Los Chamisos, Santa Fe, NM 87505 near the Santa Fe High School on Yucca St.  We'll meet in the front parking lot (please park in the street).

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If you wish to support this project, you can make a tax-deductible donation here.