Eight miles south of Socorro, Vannetta Perry owns a 54-acre farm. Her husband bought the land in 1973, and five years later, the couple started growing crops like alfalfa, winter wheat and corn for grain. Both worked other jobs to keep the farm running.
“It’s almost impossible to be out of the poverty level just by farming if you’re a small farming operation,” says Perry. “But for us, for my husband and I, we chose that as a way of life. We chose it for our children and because we love farming.”
But when Perry’s husband, Gary, died in 2010 of a rare brain disease, she couldn’t keep up with the loan for the land where they raised their children and where she continues to live while working as the Socorro’s interim superintendent.
That’s when she decided to sell her water rights—164 acre-feet, or more than 5.3 million gallons—from the Rio Grande to the City of Santa Fe.