This spotlight is a feature in a series of the USDA Community Food Project Competitive Grant Program (CFP). Grantees are doing some of the most innovative and collaborative projects to change local and regional food systems. WhyHunger’s Food Security Learning Center — also funded by a CFP grant — is profiling these organizations through dynamic stories and pictures, to give a real flavor of what the projects look like and how they’re accomplishing their goals. Up today: Rio Grande Community Farm, Albuquerque, NM. Story and picture by David Hanson.
The rich floodplains along the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque look like they’ve been farmed since the dawn of time. The river moves on the surface but, seen from above, it appears as a wide, green ribbon of vegetation that is much broader than the actual flow. The ribbon runs down the side of Albuquerque like a long rolled out scarf atop an otherwise brown, dry landscape.
Unfortunately, for much of the city, especially on the north side of town, houses and their small patches of green lawns have sprouted up on former farmland, the real estate development a much more lucrative short-term crop than corn or squash or melons or asparagus.
But a 138-acre plot still lies fertile in the Los Poblanos neighborhood. One of the city’s oldest acequias, the Spanish-made irrigation/water-sharing system established in the 1600s, cuts a straight line along the edge of the farm. The Alvarado Elementary School playground bustles with children who come from the most economically disparaging homes in the city. Modest, single-family homes and apartments around 4th St on one side, and some new mega-mansions on the other side.
In the late 1990s pressure to develop the historic farm grew to the point where concerned citizens organized to form the Rio Grande Community Farm in an effort to save the land. They needed to buy the farm from the private owner so he wouldn’t sell it to the developer. The organization worked with the City of Albuquerque and the City ultimately bought the land to save it from development.
Read the full profile at the Food Security Learning Center…