In our regular column, Tania Casselle introduces us to the people who make Taos hum. In this issue we meet two gardening gals who put up new shoots this year.
Kirry Nelson Kirry Nelson’s longtime dream came true this spring, but not without a little help from friends. Nelson and her two partners raised more than $21,000 in 30 days, by Indiegogo crowdfunding, to open Blossoms and Sprouts Farm on the site of the former Blossoms garden center. “We had a lot of local support,” says Nelson. “People were really excited about that old space.” The farm store is now open on weekend afternoons, and Nelson has plans for summer farm-to-table dinners, with music events, workshops and classes also in the pipeline. “We want it to be a venue for sustainable food growing and an educational center eventually.” It’s a long way from her childhood home in urban Kansas City. “My grandma always had a garden; we strung a lot of beans with her as kids,” she remembers. But it wasn’t until Nelson was 18, when she visted an off-the-grid Arkansas farm, that she discovered permaculture. She later decided to study it. “I got really hooked on gardening. It felt like a mission in life to grow good food and share it with others. It was an avenue for self-discovery too. Having grown up in a city, it was a bridge into wilderness, in a way.” She came to Taos in 1999 to see a friend at Lama Foundation. “I fell in love with Lama after spending a week there. I was young and free and all that stuff.” A month later she was back at Lama for a permaculture internship. Then she stayed. In her free time she sometimes sings backup for bands and also enjoys getting out into “the glory of the mountains and the wilderness” for a hike or what she modestly calls “a little rock climbing.” (That means climbing up a 60- to 80-foot rope at Tres Piedras.) Nelson is the 2013 business manager at Taos Farmers’ Market, and the farm will sell its produce there, too. Although amazed at the response to Blossoms and Sprouts, she believes it’s partly due to a greater understanding of industrial agriculture—”how it’s effecting everything: environmentally, economically, socially. People are more aware of where their food comes from.” Blossoms and Sprouts Farm’s grand opening event is June 15. 118 State Road 240, Ranchos de Taos. 575-7378028. www.blossomsandsproutsfarm.com. s t o r y b y TA N I A C A S S E L L E
photos by LENNY FOSTER
Nan Fischer got the idea to start the Taos Seed Exchange this year from a Facebook post about seed-sharing stations. She thought “This is cool,” and then she did it. Now she’s got five stations in Taos area stores. The seed barter system—take some, leave some—offers gardeners a wide and changing variety of seeds, while helping to support local strains that could otherwise disappear. “Two hundred hours and $200,” says Fischer. “That’s what it took me to get started on the seed exchange. The big expense is envelopes! I planned to keep it small and manageable, but it just snowballed. I also got seed donations from seed companies—all organic, open-pollinated and non-GMO.” Fischer used to live in New Hampshire. “The winter of ‘87 back there was horrible. It pushed me over the edge.” A friend gave her $500 and said, “Take a road trip!” So she went to Arizona and drove home via Taos. “I just passed through and thought ‘Ah, this is fabulous!’ And I came back later that year. When you’re doing the right thing, it all just comes together.” At first she stayed at “a little hippie camp on the road to the John Dunn Bridge, with a big community kitchen hidden down by the river.” Then she hung out at New Buffalo, before putting down roots and raising a family. “I’ve done my fair share of hippie stuff!” Fischer worked as a landscaper then a real estate agent, becoming the first certified EcoBroker in Taos County. “Real estate was a lot of fun,” she says, adding that she mentally redesigns every house she walks into. “The whole home and garden thing was what real estate was about for me. It wasn’t sales, it was home!” Now she writes a blog about green building, gardening and lifestyle for a Canadian company. “What I’m noticing over the last several years is that people are growing their own food more and more, people you thought would never want to get dirty.” Fischer is inspired by the Taos Seed Exchange success to even bigger ideas for 2014. Be careful what you post on Facebook! Find information on Taos Seed Exchange and store stations at www.facebook.com/TaosSeedExchange