Sunday, July 26, 2015

Indiegogo Fundraising for the Documentary Bringing Food Home

Nanda Currant and David Aubrey from Lightningwood Pictures have launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the post production and distribution of their newly released documentary on urban agriculture in New Mexico.

They plan to make the documentary widely available to schools and libraries.

Please help support their efforts.


BRINGING FOOD HOME Showing again at the CCA

Saturday Aug 1 
Sunday August 2 
at noon

Get your tickets online here

Friday, July 24, 2015

Article in Albuquerque Journal Today


Can urban agriculture work in Santa Fe? 

New film takes a closer look at whether local food sources are the better way to go.

By Jackie Jadrnak / Journal North Reporter

Every neighborhood should have an urban farm.

That’s a declaration from Erin O’Neill, who oversees the culinary garden at Santa Fe Community College. And if you’ve ever visited that garden, you would clearly see what abundance can occur in a relatively small space.

“Our youth want to know how to grow food,” she said in a film that will be screened publicly for the first time Saturday at the Center for Contemporary Arts Cinematheque.

The documentary “Bringing Food Home” is the work of filmmakers David Aubrey and Nanda Currant.

They started work on it after Gaia Gardens, an urban farm operating along Arroyo Chamiso, attracted a host of city zoning, fire, electrical and more inspectors after a neighbor complained about the operation. Founders Poki Piottin and Dominique Pozo labored to bring it into compliance, losing some of their flexibility to bring in volunteers to help farm and groups to learn how urban farms can work, and to sell produce on the premises.

At the same time, a host of neighborhood residents spoke out in favor of Gaia Gardens, saying it was a center to build community, and a welcome oasis in the scrubby and weedy environs along the sandy arroyo.

Aubrey said in a telephone interview that he had ridden his bike along the trail behind Gaia Gardens and seen the plantings taking shape there. When he heard about the issues it was having with zoning and city ordinances, he thought it would be ripe for filming.

He hadn’t had a particular interest in urban farming before, but has been a filmmaker in Santa Fe for 34 years. Previous work of his includes “A Thousand Voices” about tribal women in the Southwest, which aired on New Mexico PBS and won an award from New Mexico Women in Film, and the Emmy-winning “Canes of Power,” which explores the history of the canes President Abraham Lincoln presented to tribes to signal their sovereignty.

Hearing about Gaia Gardens, Aubrey said, he wondered “with all our best intentions, with the interest so broad in eating healthfully, it seems kind of like a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t we love this?” The filmmakers considered broadening the project to a feature-length documentary on urban farming, but the time and money for such a project meant it would not be ready in time to have an impact on the local situation, he said. “It would take a long time to get out the word,” he said.

But the film does reach beyond Gaia Gardens in talking about the need for local food sources.

And that was one of the points that stood out for me. The more centralized any industry or system becomes, the easier it is to derail.

Just think of our worries these days – remember Y2K? – about computer espionage and sabotage, and about what might happen to our banking, defense and a host of other systems if a hostile hacker invaded electronically and wiped out stores of data or took control over them.

Focusing on food, have you ever noticed how people rush to the grocery store when there’s a prediction of a major snowstorm, hurricane or – well, if we ever developed a good way to predict earthquakes, them, too. In most cases, it seems a little irrational.

But is it really? When we rely on stores for our food that is shipped in from across the nation, and across nations, it’s easy to get a little nervous about shelves becoming empty if our transportation systems suffer a major disruption.

And how about the way food is grown on a massive scale? More and more, major growers limit themselves to only a few types of crops. Yet that makes those crops more susceptible to failure if a bug or other pathogen attacks en masse.

Just look to the Irish potato famine, which began in 1845, lasted a half-dozen years, and caused the deaths of a million people and the emigration of another million, according to There were a lot of political factors that greatly increased the misery caused then, but a root factor was that poor peasants began to rely strongly on the potato, and a particular variety of potato at that, when it was hit by a fungal blight. The potatoes died and, without a good supply of other food to rely on, people starved.

Variety is good. Local is good. A food supply relying on a bunch of small, local (or at least regional) growers can adapt more quickly to challenges, both in what is grown and where food is sent, say people interviewed in the film.

To get there, though, we all have to be adaptable, they said.

“Sustainability is going to mean changes. It’s going to mean sacrifice,” said Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, chair of the Sustainable Santa Fe Commission.

And it’s going to mean some loosening of some city rules that make urban farming more of a struggle than it needs to be.

In his online blog, Piottin has said that he only made $10,000 last year. Many of us would have a hard time surviving on that kind of income.

On July 8, after a devastating hailstorm hit his crops, he wrote:

“I work from sunrise to sunset seven days a week every day of the year. After 5 years of farming, I am coming to some difficult realizations. Small scale farming like we practice, in the desert, on less than an acre, without machinery and with very little water (our well is shallow and doesn’t produce enough) is unsustainable. I work all the time and am tired all the time. I don’t have any life outside the farm.”

But, he continued, he sees hope under Mayor Javier Gonzalez, who “has invited us to help create a vision for a sustainable Santa Fe and shape a comprehensive urban agriculture ordinance.”

“As difficult as it’s been, we’ve made a huge impact on the city and hopefully have opened the way for more food production to take place in Santa Fe (as it once was!).”

Show SOLD OUT at CCA tomorrow Sat 7/27

The Showing of the documentary "BRINGING FOOD HOME" is sold out. 
We will be scheduling more showings when we can can get a spot on the CCA's schedule.
DVD's will soon be available for sale.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Friday July 24

The farm stand will now be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 8:00am-12:00pm

We will no longer be going to the Farmers Market this summer, as a farm stand is a more sustainable concept for an urban farm

Free medicinal herbal teas from the garden

Address:  2255 Paseo de los Chamisos, Santa Fe

You can access the farm stand from the Arroyo Chamiso bike trail (look for the sandwich board) between Yucca and Camino Carlos Rey

If you come by car, please park on the street and walk down to the farm stand.  

No driving on the property please!

Monday, July 13, 2015


Best Deal in Town!

We'll be selling the rest of our plant starts Monday, Wed., Thurs. and Friday at the farm 8:00am-1:00pm as well as at the Farmers' Market on TUESDAY and SATURDAY


Vegetables, herbs and flowers.  $1/plant or $20 for a tray of 28 plants

Best Deal in Town!

(by the way, these starts were protected and did not get affected by the hail storm last week)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Documentary featuring Gaia Gardens Premiere July 25 at CCA

Bringing Food Home
Discovering Sustainable Solutions

A New Documentary on Urban Farming, featuring Gaia Gardens

Premiere Screening 
Saturday July 25, at 8:15pm at the CCA

Documentary followed by a panel discussion

Tickets available online here

Seating limited to 50.

BRINGING FOOD HOME is a film focusing on sustainable solutions for local food in Northern New Mexico.  The documentary features several farms and gardens in the region practicing regenerative agriculture. Produced over the last two years, the documentary hopes to provoke constructive dialogue, inspiring Santa Fe and other cities to embrace urban agriculture as essential to resilient community.

The flurry of reactions around the creation of Gaia Gardens, a one-acre farm within residential zoning in Santa Fe, provided the impetus for this documentary. The controversy has raised a larger question for the community: how will this high-desert city sustain itself in the future?

The film goes beyond the specifics of Gaia Gardens’ circumstances to explore the need for visionary policy change, as well as a radical shift in our relationship to food.  Local farmers, land-use professionals, educators and policy makers present insights into fostering a sustainable future.

Join David Aubrey and Nanda Currant, filmmakers; Poki Piottin and Dominique Pozo, Gaia Gardens Founders; Erin O’Neil, Head Farmer/Teacher Culinary Arts Santa Fe Community College; and Joel Glanzberg, Author Patternmind and Permaculturist after the film for a panel discussion.

BRINGING FOOD HOME is co-presented by Lightningwood Productions, CCA Cinematheque and the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Post Apocalypse Fire Sale Tomorrow!

Tomorrow Saturday July 11 at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market

We just finished harvesting most of the bruised Chard and Kale and made giant bunches for tomorrow's Farmers Market.  This is super nitrogen charged food, blessed by the heavens and harvested with great humility and gratitude.

Come visit us at our booth near the water tower and get a free hug!

This morning, the summer squash are already full of flowers and our beloved bees are hard at work pollinating.
Thank you for all the messages of love and support we received!  It helped us quickly weather the shock of our garden being creamed by a hailstorm. 

The best message we got was from Brian, a friend, neighbor and dedicated volunteer.

Boy howdy, what a storm. As if one round wasn't enough. I was under the cover of the back patio when it hit. The patio is roofed with cheap tin so the racket was movie theater intense. I was mesmerized by the storm's ferocity and tenacity when my mind went straight to my apple tree. Protect it! 17 apples as big as golf balls. I ran to the front yard, grabbed an empty 32 gallon garbage can and positioned it over my head with one hand like a strange hat as I tried with the other hand to cover the small tree with a trash bag. I had more hail being deflected to the crack of my ass from the garbage can so I blanketed the tree with the trash bag and ran for cover. I got busy again with carpentry and it wasn't til this morning that I walked the front garden landscape and saw the damage. The tree was OK but not the other plants. Then I came inside and read your email.

Farming to you folks must seem like doing penance. I was raised Catholic and penance is good action one does with the intent of making up for a past sin. Atonement. I'm not saying you farmers are sinners but you have to wonder what with your external risks like a raucous and pesty neighbor who happens to be a retired lawyer, a city administration that's not very favorable to your goals, a potential property foreclosure, and the cultural bias that puts farming a notch above gutter cleaning and gun fighting, and the internal risks like squash bugs, a shallow well, too much sun, lack of labor, and HAIL to name but a few, you must wonder when your efforts will be recognized by the benevolent gods that be. But you start thinking that way and superstition gains a foothold. And that is why I'm as much a Catholic today as my tail is residual.

What a fucking storm. I hope your hearts and motivation regenerates, that your plants regenerate as well as can be wished. It's a trite mention but keep up the fantastic work. The small community that supports and understands you obviously loves you and roots for you.

Your pal, Brian

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hail Storm and Bruised Heart


I started harvesting early for our CSA this morning. I like being in the garden alone when the sun is rising, especially after rains like we've had. Everything is so vibrant. 

Yesterday, I was on squash bug patrol in our summer and winter squash fields, admiring the growth of the plants, their stretching into the sun, their amazing flowers and their vitality.

When you've been pampering thousands of plants for months, you can't help but visualize the fruits of your labor and devotion. Names like Waltham Butternut, Boston Marrow, Blue Hubbard, Table Acorn, Gila Cliff Dweller (my favorite), Mayo Blusher and Magdalena Big Cheese evoke the peak of the harvest in the fall when a farmer proudly displays these amazing heirloom varieties at the Farmers' Market. 

There's a thrill around this time of the year when everything is exploding, climbing, flowering and showering you with beauty. 

Since mid January, we've been seeding and transplanting thousands upon thousands of plants, in the cold, in the wind, in the dark, racing with time to get everything planted. 

New Mexico has a short growing season. You ought to be very precise with your timing, especially with peppers, eggplants, melons, winter squash and tomato or they never get to mature before the first frost. As you get more years under your belt, you get more proficient with your timing and rotations. Abundance begins to manifest. 

Around this time of the year, when everything is finally planted, you get to relax some and reap the fruits of months of hard labor.

And then comes a hail storm. 

Like today. 40 minutes of continuous hail, shredding plants with a 125mph velocity. 

I remember my first hail storm two years ago, in our second year at Gaia Gardens.  I sought refuge in the tool shed and watched the hail fall. I started crying. I was devastated. All this work for months to get your entire crop shredded to pieces.

Today, I sat on the couch in our shop and watched the hail storm. I was better prepared, having survived two storms in previous years. I was with Dominique and Rachel, our intern. I could feel every hail stone as if it was hitting my own body. I was staying cool in the presence of my partner and intern but truly, my heart was getting bruised just like the plants were.

The storm lasted an eternity. 

When it finally stopped, we saw someone coming down to the farm, obviously looking for us.  Lily, a master gardener who's been to the farm and bought plants from us, was coming to see if she could help cover the plants.  

I was deeply touched by her concern and her coming to help. I told her it was too late and that covering the plants can crush them under the weight of the hail.

Lili, Rachel and I walked the garden, inspecting the damage. Chard, summer squash and winter squash leaves are very tender. They get completely shredded by hail. Sunflower leaves were pretty sad, basil will turn black because it is so sensitive to cold, tomato fruits and young squash will be bruised.

  Dino Kale and Collard are robust and did not show any sign of damage. Russian Kale gets pretty beat up in a hail storm.

As I walked the garden, a deep sadness came over me. It is so difficult to make a living as a small farmer. Last year, our best year, I barely made $10,000. Imagine if I had kids to feed! I make less money that a dishwasher at MacDonald. 

I work from sunrise to sunset seven days a week every day of the year.

  After 5 years of farming, I am coming to some difficult realizations. Small scale farming like we practice, in the desert, on less than an acre, without machinery and with very little water (our well is shallow and doesn't produce enough) is unsustainable. I work all the time and am tired all the time. I don't have any life outside the farm.


I feel like we were handed a mission in attempting to establish an urban farm in Santa Fe. The previous administration nearly managed to sink us by their utter lack of understanding and sensitivity.

  The current administration, under the leadership of Mayor Javier Gonzalez, has invited us to help created a vision for a sustainable Santa Fe and shape a comprehensive urban agriculture ordinance.

As difficult as it's been, we've made a huge impact on the city and hopefully have opened the way for more food production to take place in Santa Fe (as it once was!). 

We've just completed a beautiful documentary (Bringing Food Home, soon to be shown at the CCA) that took two years to create and have inspired many people though our tenacity, commitment to service and willingness to embrace all the challenges coming our way-a neighbor and administration bent on destroying us, the uncertainty of being on a property on the brink of foreclosure and relying on a well that should have run dry many year ago 

I feel sad. 

I feel the predicament of all farmers on this planet. Especially indigenous people. I understand why farmers in India are committing suicide, in shame of not being able to repay their debt and feed their family.

I worry. 

I worry about the future of farming. I worry about climate change.

I chuckle when I hear people say "let's grow with hydroponics or aquaponics". Yes, we will need to grow indoors as climatic conditions become more and more erratic but can we grow wheat, corn, potato or winter squash indoors?  

And where would I get the money to built a hi-tech year-round indoor hydroponic growing facility? 

When people tell me that the prices at the Farmers Market are high, I want to scream. The question for me is on whose back is the low price we get at the grocery store and who makes the profit? The answer is simple. Undocumented, immigrant workers slave away in large commercial farm operations and endure terrible working conditions, extremely low wages, no security, health hazards and abuse, while the stock holders of large agro companies reap large profits.

Isn’t ironic and sad that the people who grow our food are the lowest paid workers on the planet when they provide some of the hardest work?

We ought to understand (and educate our friends) the meaning and implications of buying at the Farmers Market (vs. Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, etc.) as a way to keep money circulating locally and keeping agriculture land in production. If farmers cannot make a living, their children will not take up farming. Agricultural land will fall in the hands of developers, agricultural water rights will be lost and the local farming tradition will soon disappear.

Please support your local farmers. Buy at the Farmers Market and tell all your friends to do the same. 

After the storm.....

Add caption



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Catching Up-Pics and Ramble

Our main propagation house where plants get started in January

Time flies!  We've been so busy this year that posting on this blog has taken a back seat...

After resting for a couple weeks over the Christmas Holidays, we started seeding greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants on January 20th.   Around 13,000 plants were started this year, religiously following the Biodynamic Calendar.  Half of them got planted at the farm, the rest have been sold at the Farmers Market or planted at the school gardens that we manage.

The crew that helped stretched the greenhouse plastic

A new greenhouse was built in February to accommodate our increased production.  1,500 tomato plants were nurtured in the new greenhouse between March and June, and we're happy to report that we sold them all!

Winter is when we make Barrel Compost, a Biodynamic
soil amendment invented by Maria Thun.

Mixing fresh cow poop with egg shells, basalt and Biodynamic preps

The barrel where mixture gets buried for 6 months

Dominique rototilling the winter rye/hairy vetch cover crop

Creating a new perennial flower and herb garden in front of our farm stand

Harvesting greens at the Monte del Sol Charter School garden

Dominique and Rachel repairing the Horno

Dominique and Marlene transplanting young seedlings

Nanda and Rachel unloading horse compost

At the Master Gardeners Fair in May

Our double booth at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market on Saturdays

This season, we've increased our plant production and have been selling a record number of plant starts to discriminate gardeners. It is part of our strategy to maintain a year-round presence at the Farmers Market.  The sale of plant starts accounts for 40% of our revenues.

Our First-Monday-of-the-Month Community Potlucks continue to be well attended. Next potluck is Monday July 6 @ 6:00pm

Volunteers preparing one of our tomato beds

Our 91 Toyota truck is now equipped with a rack over the hood to carry all our goods to the Farmers Market.  Thank you Steve from Dulfer Metal for the great addition to our farm truck! 

Judy, Audrey, Dominique and Kim preparing a second tomato bed

 Seed balls making party

We just finished harvesting our garlic and it is selling fast!  You can order yours now for $10/lb.  We also have garlic braids ranging from $17-$25. 

Poki and Dominique practicing Qigong!

Property purchase update

To date we've raised $26,000 in donations, have another $80,000 pledged by two Foundations, and we are willing to match this with our own savings to purchase the property.  We anticipate that the bank will want a minimum of $350,000.  A real estate attorney is helping us and the property owner find the best possible strategy for making an offer to bank before the property goes into foreclosure.  

We've been approached by, and have had several conversations with a group interested in starting a private elementary school that would use the farm as its classroom. The idea of having an alternative school at the farm is very attractive to us. 


Plant Sale
Sunday July 12

Basket Weaving Workshop
Sunday July 12

Plant Sale July 12, 11:00am-1:00pm


We still have lots of flower, herb and vegetable starts

Come tour the farm on July 12 from 11:00am-1:00pm and get incredible deals on plant starts

Amaranth (Burgundy)
Amaranthus (Love lies bleeding)
Bachelor Button
Blue Statice
Bottle Gourd
Calendula (Resina)
Chinese Lantern
Chrysanthemum (Edible)
Cosmos (Psyche White)
Four O'Clock
Foxglove (Apricot)

Lobelia trailing
Red Amaranth (Edible)
Sunflower (Autumn Beauty)
Sunflower (Mammoth)
sunflower (tarahumara)
Zinnia (Cactus mix)
Zinnia (California Giant)
Zinnia (Fantasy)

Bloody Dock (Red Sorrel)
Cayenne Pepper
St. John’s Wort

Russian Kale
Dino Kale
Curly Kale
Summer squash

Basket Weaving Workshop Sunday July 12 1:00-3:00pm


Facilitated by Dave Thorp from Sunstar Herbs and Horned Locust Goatscaping.

Commercial farms like Gaia Gardens use a drip irrigation called T-tape. These irrigation lines usually get replaced every 3-5 years and are thrown away. However T-tape can be weaved into beautiful and long-lasting baskets.

Join us for a fun and creative gathering with herbalist, goat herder and authentic New Mexico homesteader Dave Thorp.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend.   Potluck. 

Suggested donation $10

Location: Gaia Gardens   Directions