seeds and supplies. Collectively they also have access to more markets, such as restaurants and institutions that would not be viable working alone. Most importantly, they share information, with each other and with volunteers and interns. It's not always easy, but it helps to work together, and Angel says it gets better every year.
Cecilia Rosacker Cecilia Rosacker has been a trailblazer in building the local food economy, and was one of a handful of farmers to start the Downtown Growers Market. She encourages her customers to try delicacies like okra, long beans, heirloom tomatoes, and eggplants, in an effort excite and engage the public about the benefits of farming. She also helped launch the farm-to-table trend in Albuquerque by selling her organic produce to restaurants in the 1990s. On her thirty acres north of Socorro, Rosacker grows about two acres of vegetables and raises organic beef on the remaining pasture. She looks at farming not so much as a business but as a way to care for her family; her collegeaged sons have helped on the farm since they were little, and they grow what they like to eat. Rosacker believes the true foundation of the local food economy is the land. She grew up on a farm in the Pojoaque Valley, where she saw family farms disappear, being subdivided and developed. As an adult, she recognized the need to protect the agricultural way of life for her two sons and her community. She served on the board of the New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association for ten years, and the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council for five years. Now, she is executive director of the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, an organization founded by local farmers and conservationists at her kitchen table in 1997. Through the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, landowners can put some or all of their property into a conservation easement, which forever protects the land's value for agriculture, wildlife habitat, or open space. The landowner relinquishes the development rights to the land and works with the Land Trust to develop specific restrictions protecting its conservation value. The landowner retains ownership
and manages the land as he or she chooses; the Land Trust monitors and ensures the deed restrictions are not violated. At the root of her work, Rosacker is motivated by the desire to share with younger people the empowerment that comes with a sense of belonging and contributing to their community, providing for themselves and others through farming. In 2013, Western Planner awarded her Citizen Planner of the Year, saying, “She is a model citizen planner because she is both planner and participant.” Rosacker works tirelessly to ensure that there will be land for farming, the very basis of a sustainable local food economy.
Nancy Coonridge Nancy Coonridge sets an inspiring example for land conservation practices in ranching. She produces something marvelous from a sparse landscape that cannot be used for growing much. Her rocky piece of land outside Pie Town is not very good for cattle, but it’s great for goats. The goats lead a natural life roaming freely, protected by their Maremma guardian dogs. They eat wild plants that humans can’t digest that grow on Coonridge’s rocky high elevation ranch, allowing lowland farms to be used for growing things people can eat. Her herd is a combination of Alpine goats, thrifty and well suited to harsh conditions, and Nubian and La Mancha goats, whose milk is very rich. Coonridge engages in a continual process of cross-breeding to increase the fat and protein in the goats' milk while retaining their hardy character, so that they become ever more suited to her specific place. Their diet of wild plants increases cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acids and omega-3 fatty acids in their milk. She is also constantly refining the cheesemaking process, and is interested in experimenting with true vegetable rennet from natural sources such as thistle or stinging nettle. She tries to practice the lowest impact production methods possible. Cornucopia, a watchdog group for organic and sustainable agriculture, has given her certified organic goat cheese the highest possible rating because of her commitment to good land and water use. In 2010, she was named New Mexico Organic Farmer of the Year. Even though she lives in a very isolated place, Coonridge maintains many connections with others engaged in sustainable and organic food production in New Mexico. She works with Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute and gives traditional cheesemaking classes at their yearly conference in Española. She enjoys attending the New Mexico Organic Farmers’ Conference to meet others who think similarly and have the same challenges. Coonridge sells her cheeses through La Montañita Co-op and a distributor, Bountiful Cow, but her favorite way to sell is at festivals, where she enjoys getting feedback and new ideas. Coonridge also does her fair share of education and advocacy. She often hosts interns or WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) from around the world, training them in the cheesemaking process. Caring for the goats gives people the opportunity to see that farming is hard work, and perhaps to find satisfaction in it. She has testified before the Organic Standards Committee about making organic pasturing standards equal for producers large and small, and she often shares her wisdom and experience at all manner of food and farming conferences.
edible Santa Fe | SPRING 2014
Published on Feb 26, 2014
Women and Food - The spring issue is a showcase of amazing women working in food and agriculture, from those defining local food distributio...