Thursday, June 13, 2013

No more Volunteers and Visitors allowed at the Farm

Two days ago, we received a Notice of Violation letter from the City (see excerpt below), asking us to “cease operations immediately” because attracting numerous visitors (how many is too many the City doesn’t have it written in its codes!) and working with volunteers in a residential neighborhood is against City codes.  

A Home Occupation License only permits two employees maximum to work on a Home Business.  The citation also addresses some building issues and the use of a recreational vehicle for lodging (my home!).

I have agreed verbally with the City, and will follow with a requested written statement, that Gaia Gardens will:

  • no longer have volunteers work on the farm operation
  • no longer have Wwoofer (farm interns) work on the farm operation
  • host no events of any kind
  • no longer welcome schools or other organizations to visit the farm.
  • have no more trailer on the land (I’m now officially homeless!)
The City is enforcing its code after some neighbors complained about the activities at the farm.  The vast majority of our neighbors love the farm and have sent letters of support, but one neighbor’s complaint on a code violation is enough to force the City to enforce its codes.  That’s the way our system unfortunately functions.  Sometimes for the good, sometimes at the expense of community, health and education.

We are therefore forced to comply with the City codes and scale down our operation or risk to: 

1)    incur fines of $500/day for non-compliance and 90 days of jail time for each day of non-compliance.
2) risk to irritate the City Administration and jeopardize our ability to gain political support and get the City to amend its codes as every other major city in the US has done, or is in the process of doing, to allow urban farming to flourish in inner cities.

Dominique and I will carry on the season by ourselves and will creatively attempt to garner community support to address the City Council with a request to amend the codes to allow urban farming and the sale of produce on urban farms in residential neighborhoods.  

Several organizations, including the New Mexico Community Foundation, our fiscal sponsor, the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute and others are looking at ways to assist us in our effort to amend City codes.

We regret to announce that we can no longer accept volunteers nor welcome visitors to the farm.  

It is a very sad turn of event for us, and also an opportunity to form a broad coalition of concerned citizens and organizations to assist the City to evolve its codes to foster a healthy and resilient culture.

Should you have any questions or a willingness to help organize to address the City Council, please email us.

We want to express our deepest gratitude to the many volunteers, supporters and donors who have contributed to make Gaia Gardens such a success.  In the word of a top City official, “we are victims of our own success!”

Thank you for your support and please come visit us on Saturdays at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, or on Fridays at the Eldorado Farmers Market.

Please stay tuned to this channel for further news about our brand new ducklings (click on video for 34 seconds of sheer delight!)


 (click on image to watch video)

With Love and Gratitude (and a healthy dose of bitterness, anger and grief).


The Pearl

Said one oyster to a neighboring oyster, “I have a very great pain within me. It is heavy and round and I am in distress.

And the other oyster replied with haughty complacence, “Praise be to the heavens and to the sea, I have no pain within me. I am well and whole both within and without.”

At that moment a crab was passing by and heard the two oysters, and he said to the one who was well and whole both within and without, “Yes you are well and whole; but the pain that your neighbor bears is a pearl of exceeding beauty.”

-From “The Wanderer” By Kahlil Gibran

Aware of the deep disappointment I feel this evening, I hope to share some essence of beauty as well. Our recent demand from the city to cease all farm related operations “immediately,” has not only greatly affected Poki and I, but many devoted friends and supporters. As we sat in circle sharing this afternoon I was mostly speechless, allowing the reality of this unfolding to sink in. No more children laughing and running in freedom and delight, no more groups of elders sharing their wisdom and inspiration, no more shared meals after a morning of sifting compost or delicately transplanting vegetable starts, NO MORE, NO, NO, NO. This experience of denial and in a sense oppression, has opened my heart to the experience of so many humans across the globe, in situations far worse than ours.

This land has magnetized great kindness, amazing willingness, and selfless service. After countless hours of shared toil we have undoubtedly grown a precious family of volunteers and interns. To think of my brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles no longer being, “allowed,” to come share in living with us, breaks my heart.    I think of all the elders in the world who spend most of their day alone and isolated, the many urbanized children hungry to have their hands in the soil, while learning the priceless art of listening well, and simply the brave and lonely individuals who show up with a willingness to risk connecting with others. Gaia Gardens has been a sanctuary and inspiration to many, and for this I am forever grateful. Countless seeds of regeneration have been cast and I trust that however this story unfolds, we have all been gifted the freedom to share in big love, upon and for the land.


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