09.28.167 DaysWednesday, September 28, 2016
CITY HAS NEW TWITTER ACCOUNT FOR ST. FRANCIS UNDERPASS
But will following @AcequiaUnderpas (yes, one S) help us understand how to get to the Rail Trail from the Acequia Trail?
POUR ONE OUT FOR ARNOLD PALMER
Add a drop of vodka to that iced tea/lemonade.
DOWNTOWN BOMB THREAT HAPPENS ON SAME DAY TEMPS PLUNGE INTO FALL
What the hell else is going to happen around here?!
CO-OP ACTIVISTS HATE ON GWYNETH DOLAND’S OPINION PIECE
This is the worst episode of Portlandia we’ve ever seen. Wait...
PLAZA CAFE FAMILY PURCHASES DEFUNCT ZIA DINER
One can never have too many brunch options.
CONSERVATIVES CALL ZOZOBRA ‘ANTITHESIS OF CHRISTIANITY’
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not set fire to Old Man Gloom.
FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE FEELS LIKE SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Trump shouts. Clinton laughs. Everyone else invents new drinking games.
We’re Going Through ChangesLocal NewsWednesday, September 28, 2016
Last week’s masthead included a few important changes that we’d like to point out to readers who might not always read that fine print below the table of contents.
Julie Ann Grimm, who’s been editor of SFR for the past three years, now serves as both editor and publisher of the organization. Longtime sales expert Anna Maggiore leads the revenue side of things with a new position as both associate publisher and ad director.
After serving as publisher of the Santa Fe Reporter since July of 2013, Jeff Norris has stepped down to pursue other goals.
SFR has been providing free news and culture journalism and commentary to Santa Fe readers for more than 40 years. One of three newspapers in the City of Roses chain, its sister papers are the Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, and INDY Week in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
Got feedback about how we’re doing or have a story idea? Write
Straight from the Source
Panhandlers take the mic at upcoming community forumLocal NewsWednesday, September 28, 2016
The last time Ernie Barela panhandled, he made about 30 bucks. That cash lasted him two weeks.
Barela usually gets by in Santa Fe on his monthly checks: $245 in welfare and $150 in food stamps. But every once in a while he’ll order more fast food than he can afford and find himself short at the end of the month. To get over the hump, Barela might “fly a sign” somewhere on Cerrillos Road.
Panhandling takes preparation. As Barela explains, “There’s an art to it.” He’ll stop shaving for two days and throw on some raggedy clothes to engender sympathy. He served in the Army years ago, which makes for effective signage. “You could try to smile or you could look sad. If you look at somebody rudely, they’ll call the police on you,” Barela says.
Barela plans to speak on a panel this Friday titled “Why Am I Homeless? Why Do I Panhandle?” Organized by the grassroots group Santa Fe Need and Deed, the forum offers locals a chance to hear straight from the people who spend time on the street.
“It’s for people to hear what it’s like and to stop making assumptions based on what they think it’s like,” says Martha Hamblen, executive director of Need and Deed.
Christ Church Santa Fe will host. Homeless attendees can obtain a monthly bus pass or $10 gift card to Smith’s. Pizza 9 plans to deliver eight pizzas and plates and napkins, which will be available before the event kicks off at 1 pm.
To get ready, Sylvia, a community outreach coordinator for Need and Deed, hands out fliers for the forum to bench-sitters outside Pete’s Place, the nickname for the city-owned Santa Fe Resource and Opportunity Center. They read: “Your life experience is priceless. Your story matters.”
Another stack of fliers intended for the general public advertises that city police Chief Patrick Gallagher plans to attend. (Gallagher did not return requests from comment. Santa Fe Police spokesman Greg Gurulé tells SFR the department plans to send a representative, but could not confirm whether it would be Gallagher.)
City Council in 2010 passed an ordinance outlining where (on public property, but not near bus stops or ATMs), when (whenever, except for in the business capitol zoning district—which encompasses downtown and stretches of the Cerrillos Road corridor near St. Francis Drive and Baca Street—where it’s restricted before dusk and after dawn) and how (not aggressively) panhandlers may ask for money.
According to the ordinance, those who panhandle outside the parameters for the first time get a warning. Second offenses prompt a citation. Third time’s an arrest. The rules overturned a blanket ban on the practice that civil rights groups called unconstitutional.
Police officers earlier this year handed out their own fliers listing the panhandling provisions to downtown shopkeepers and members of the chamber of commerce. “Remember, panhandling is legal in certain situations and people should be judged by their criminal or outrageous behavior,” it reads. Officers may hand out the same flier at the community forum, according to Gurulé.
Before heading to Pete’s Place, Sylvia stopped by the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce office on St. Michael’s Drive to present a personal invitation to the largest business group in the city.
“I just want you all to have a voice,” she tells Simon Brackley, chamber CEO and President. Brackley asks Sylvia to post a flier in his window and says he’ll try to get someone at the event. No promises, though. He notes that a week’s notice is a bit short. Sylvia replies that she’s emailed the chamber several times.
"I need them to hear it from the horse’s mouth. It can’t always come from the police."
“I need them to hear it from the horse’s mouth. It can’t always come from the police,” she says later.
Sylvia lived in a tent when the going got rough, but now she lives in Section 8 housing. She got hooked up with Need and Deed years ago when Hamblen stopped by the shelter to hand out bus passes (the group no longer does this).
Friday’s forum evolved out of community meetings held every Monday at 2 pm by Need and Deed at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where volunteers serve hot meals (this week, beef stew) and distribute bags stocked with soap, shaving cream and toothbrushes. Racks of donated clothes are available for the taking. Hamblen invites homeless attendees to say whatever they’re feeling, with the expectation that nothing leaves the room: “We just let them talk because a lot of times people don’t have somebody to talk to that cares about them all week long.”
Hamblen, who founded the group five years ago, aims to bring in regulars for long-term mentoring. She says, “As a society, we can always do more than what we’re doing. It behooves us to care more.”
“Why Am I Homeless? Why Do I Panhandle?“
1 pm Friday Sept. 30. Free.
Christ Church Santa Fe,
1213 Don Gaspar Ave.,
The Other Mike
Big zoning changes proposed for midtown corridorLocal NewsWednesday, September 28, 2016
A watercolor painted by long-range city planner Richard McPherson years ago depicted a rather utopian image of St. Michael’s Drive—not the reality of seven lanes of zooming traffic and a veritable sea of parking lots, but a boulevard with trees in the median, safe places to walk and innovate, and modern spaces in which to live and work.
The artwork that appeared in SFR’s 2015 Annual Manual was part of what some described as a “community visioning” process that took place in a vacant storefront now occupied by the new and improved Tecolote restaurant, and even those backing a rezoning plan today say what it depicts might never come to pass. But they say giving private landowners the chance—and incentive—to alter the character of the area is a step toward a new image.
City councilors and members of the public who serve on five government committees have already approved the proposal planners are calling the “Midtown Local Innovation Corridor Overlay District.” The most recent was a unanimous vote from four councilors who serve on the Public Works Committee on Monday night.
While the idea has been kicking around since way before he took office, Mayor Javier Gonzales became its newest flagbearer two years ago when he talked about it with mayors from other cities at a conference on urban design. Matt O’Reilly is driving the bus on the effort now, along with the mayor and mayor pro tem, Councilor Peter Ives. O’Reilly is a former city planning commissioner and Land Use Department director whom Gonzales appointed director of asset development, a position Gonzales created.
Much of O’Reilly’s time in that post so far has been dedicated to tasks like renegotiating the city’s franchise agreement with telecom giants Qwest and CenturyLink, other leases of city property to bring in revenue for the economic development fund, working on a revamp to regulations about food trucks and acting as liaison in a complicated bankruptcy proceeding in which the city has a stake. But the bulk of O’Reilly’s energy at present is on the overlay.
Unlike the city-owned and privately developed Santa Fe Railyard district that’s seen a flurry of construction in recent years, O’Reilly says that with this plan, whatever new things happen along St. Mike’s will be motivated in a more organic way. Comprising about 373 acres in the geographical center of the city, the zoning overlay would give the 161 individual property owners opportunities to build in ways that are impossible with current rules. That means allowing taller buildings in some places, greater density throughout, and fewer required parking spaces for most uses.
"They’re going to make their own decisions over time
on what to do with their property. "
“Some of these properties have been owned by these families for 40 years. They have invested in building commercial buildings and developments, they have entered into long-term leases with [tenants] like with Kmart. … It is not so much the city trying to impose something on them,” O’Reilly tells SFR. “It is respecting how much they have invested and the fact that they have existing tenants and that they’re going to make their own decisions over time on what to do with their property.”
Right now, the area is a combination of zoning that’s largely commercial, industrial and, because of the 64-acre campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, institutional. If the overlay is adopted, one of the big changes is that that the city won’t impose density rules. New projects can be up to 50 feet tall except within 150 feet of homes, where they can only rise to 38 feet.
O’Reilly says redevelopment won’t be quick. The first and most likely changes, he says, will be in existing commercial areas where tenants move out and new tenants choose to move in because of city incentives that are part of the overlay ordinance proposal. Multi-family housing that could address the city’s shortage of affordable dwellings tops this list for desired new development, yet it’s probably further off. Meanwhile, businesses such as restaurants, services like hairdressers, doctors and dentists, and entertainment and arts projects (that are part of what he says the community “wants to see” there based on surveys) could come faster thanks to fee waivers in the proposal.
Back in 2009, when city planners were talking about the effort known as RE:Mike, things weren’t looking so hot for the corridor that was marked by empty retail spaces and businesses with their eyes on other parts of the city. But that’s changed somewhat. Ask Buddy Espinosa, the general manager of Santa Fe Toyota. The Toyota dealership at that time had plans to abandon the St. Mike’s location and rebuild on the Southside, but when Espinosa took the helm, he shifted focus. Now the dealership, which employs 138 people, has purchased two adjacent lots and plans to soon break ground on a new building.
“I wanted to stay in the center of town,” he says. “Look, the Chamber of Commerce was out there in the outlet mall and guess what? They’re next door to me now.”
While he’s not up on the details of the zoning proposal, he’s says he’s not worried. “It can only be a good thing.”
Area residents still have time to let the City Council know what they think about the idea. A public hearing is planned for Oct. 26.
The Next Great Extinction?
Climate change threatens to make growing chiles in New Mexico tougher than everFeaturesWednesday, September 28, 2016
Until an August storm hammered his fields with nickel-sized hail for half an hour, Matt Romero’s chile crop looked to be heading for its biggest season yet. While pinned in his truck, watching, he shot a video of the pummeling his cucumbers, cabbages and chiles received. Between the vegetable rows, inches of muddy water roil in the hail. His swearing and lamenting the devastation can just barely be heard over the drumming on the truck rooftop.
“All the extra profits we would have looked at for this year were just gone in one half-hour event,” Romero tells SFR later. “I’ve never had one that severe—ever.”
The total hit comes out to $60,000 to $80,000, or roughly 30 percent of his anticipated profits this year from his 11 acres, spread over two plots in Alcalde and Dixon.
“It doesn’t let up at all,” he says, revisiting that footage. “Normally, it’s ding, ding, ding, and you’re done. This is 10 rounds and you’re out. Looks like a winter storm, doesn’t it? That’s the bizarre part of how thick it got.”
He’ll be fine, he insists over coffee on a quiet Tuesday morning at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, between turns at the chile roaster. There, he dons a pink apron and sunglasses and jokes that he’s the most interesting roaster in town with tourists who break out their phones and iPads to shoot photos and videos of him.
“It would be hard to survive that hit if I was a much smaller farmer, or hadn’t had the success along the way,” he says. “But we’ll make it. We’ll make it another year.”
The weather hasn’t been easy on anyone this year. In July, farmers ran short on water and temperatures ran high, and worries for this year’s crop ran right alongside. Then all the rain they normally see spread over the month of July seemed to fall in a single day in August. This comes after a February so warm that carrots started to grow.
Chiles are a goldilocks crop—they want to be not too hot, not too cold, not too wet and not too dry. The plant doesn’t set fruit in temperatures warmer than 95 degrees or cooler than 55 degrees. A light frost can be fatal.
New Mexico grows a quarter of the United States’ chile supply, and continues to be the second largest producer in the country, but the crop has taken hits in the previous decades. In 1992, 34,500 acres were harvested. By 2012, that number had plummeted to 9,600, and last year was all the way down to 7,700 acres, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. At this point, onions account for a greater share of state cash flow from crops, at 8 percent, and pecans wallop both categories, bringing in 19.9 percent. Chile peppers limp along at 5.5 percent, down from $65 million in sales to $38.6 million just between 2012 and 2014.
By far, the leading force in those losses has been competition from other countries. As an often hand-picked crop, it’s cheaper to grow and pay laborers to harvest chile in Mexico, Asia and India, which have emerged as leading producers globally. Demand for chile has more than doubled, while New Mexico’s supply of it (and share of the profits) has dropped. But while labor poses its own set of problems—from costs to farmers to challenges for the workers themselves, who face long hours of difficult work—the weather also takes some credit for making life tough for chile farmers, and it’s getting tougher.
In the heat of July, the Trujillos were most worried about water. After an almost nonexistent spring that rolled right into summer, plants were two weeks late (though last year’s wet summer gave rise to more pests and rodents to go after chiles). Timing is a delicate art for their crops, which are watered by one of four ditches filled by the Santa Cruz dam. Early season overflows readily supply their fields, but those taper off through the summer months.
“You can’t have water when you want to have water; you have to water when it’s available,” says Noel Trujillo of Vigil’s Chimayó Produce. He can’t even grow on the 7 acres at his house because the water there isn’t dependable.
"Mother Nature is just making it a little more
difficult for our growers."
“We’ve been on the acequia system for God knows how many years, and it works … but it does reach a critical point,” Trujillo says. “You just kind of put the water for the stuff you want to save. Of course you notice the snowpacks are less than they used to be.”
That’s where his wife, Gloria Trujillo, picks up the conversation: “This summer has been super hot, and you can see that it’s taken its toll on the plants.”
Once water isn’t coming over the spillway, they try to conserve to last the whole season, or at least until the monsoon, she said in a late-July conversation: “But we should have seen that two weeks ago.”
There have been worse years, says Jesús Guzmán of Jesús Guzmán Produce, recalling a period in the mid-1990s so dry they couldn’t farm his acres near Medanales at all. The situation didn’t improve until around 2006.
“Some years are a lot better than others, but we never got back to the early ’90s, late ’80s, when we had more water than we could use,” he says. “It never came back. This year has been one of those years it seems like we’re just going to scrape by. … Water has been getting scarce, more and more. We’re getting to a point that we’re not going to make it, and rain remains to be seen.”
The trouble with a changing climate is that it’s not just a slow cranking up of the thermostat, says New Mexico State University horticulture professor Paul Bosland—also known as the “Chileman,” who signs his emails “hottest regards.”
“One thing people have to understand with climate change is, it’s not just this gentle warming, like it’s going to be 1 degree warmer or 2 degrees warmer. We’re seeing these fluctuations where it seems to be more dramatic, and things happening like, much colder than normal, much hotter than normal,” he says. “Climate change, it’s real. Nobody should ever doubt it. But we know it’s not climate warming, per se. It is getting warmer, but it’s not going to be just a gentle warming. We just see this real dramatic shift, more dramatic weather events.”
That’s problematic for an already finicky plant that produces less when it’s too hot or too cold. In 2015, NMSU’s teaching garden saw 70 days of temperatures above 90 degrees.
“It was the lowest chile year we saw on our research plots, ever,” Bosland says.
This year, two plots were hit with hail that set back their production.
“Mother Nature is just making it a little more difficult for our growers,” Bosland says.
The teaching garden at NMSU in Southern New Mexico is planted with more than 150 types of chiles, sourced from all over South America, including 10 wild types and wild varieties from domesticated species. Many of these the American public has never tasted, but they provide a veritable toy box for chile breeders, full of options for them to select for plants that can set fruit at higher temperatures.
Chiles can self-pollinate, producing seeds that grow into plants very similar to their parents. Introducing new genetic material to get something more like daughters and sons than twins takes an external hand to mix pollen from two plants selected as good parents. Their progeny are then planted in test plots, and from there, breeders choose plants that seem to have inherited the best of their parents—like disease resistance and heat tolerance.
“We’re going to have to keep selecting for plants that can set at that hotter weather, and that’s going to be possible because the original chiles, the ones before we began breeding here in New Mexico, really grew in a much more temperate area. They liked around 68, 72 degrees Fahrenheit,” Bosland says. “We selected and selected until we had one that would grow here in New Mexico.”
But 10 years will pass between creating new varieties and seeing farmers stock those varieties in their fruit stands. Can that process keep pace with the changing climate?
“We don’t know,” Bosland says. “We’re watching it. We are cognizant of this fact, so we’re looking now to see how do our chiles do.”
Chiles aren’t alone in this problem. Nature Climate Change recently published research into Africa’s maize crops that tracked a 30-year process to breed, deliver and adopt new varieties of maize adapted to hotter conditions that shorten crop duration and decrease yield. At that speed, new varieties are outpaced by changes in the climate and therefore rendered useless. The researchers suggested developing new crops in greenhouses already heated to the temperatures projected for the decades ahead.
Terry Berke, who has been the hot pepper breeder with Monsanto Company for 16 years, has a different perspective.
“The climate has always been changing,” he says. Their program runs entirely out of fields, with a base in Woodland, California—which saw an exceptionally hot summer, with many days over 100 degrees—and breeding nurseries in Florida, Mexico and Guatemala. “Breeders see that as job security. We just keep doing our breeding and selecting for better adaptation, better plant, better yield, better disease package. I don’t worry about it so much. I think breeding is going to be able to solve whatever issues we have, in conjunction with technology like drip irrigation. At least for the considerable future, I think we’ll be fine.”
There’s only so much science can do to intervene on the chile’s behalf in the face of a changing climate, and what they do, they have to do in largely old-school ways. No one has yet cracked the chile genome.
“I’m 100 percent sure you’re not getting a GMO chile, because it can’t be done,” Bosland says.
One NMSU researcher focuses specifically on what it is that renders the chile genome recalcitrant to gene editing; it’s the one plant in its family to hold that distinction.
A pepper crop typically takes five months from seed to seed, and while there are some options for speeding that up, they’re laborious and not very cost effective, says Berke, so they basically just have to wait out the natural cycle.
“Pepper breeding is a long-term process,” he says.
At Monsanto, just building new “parent” peppers—two varieties to cross-pollinate to produce a new hybrid that has won the genetic lottery by taking desired traits from both of its parents—can take five years. Another five will pass with internal testing, selecting the best of the best offspring, ramping up seed production and launching commercially.
“We can manipulate earliness, plant height, yield, disease resistance, even things like shelf life without affecting flavors, so that’s essentially what we try to do,” Berke says. “We always run commercial varieties as our checks, and we send a lot of stuff to our vegetable quality lab, where we measure pungency, sugars, dry matter and other quality traits and, basically, we try to match more or less the commercial checks.”
He describes a program driven by popular opinion—not his thoughts on what tastes good, but the purchase power of, say, the 100 million Mexicans who eat peppers. They try to keep the flavor steady while manipulating other characteristics of the plant that could affect its resiliency and production. And always, always with an eye on the specific length-to-width ratio demanded, which is 2.5 to 1 for jalapeños, 1:1 to habaneros and 4:1 for serranos. There’s a little variance in that, but stray too far, he says, and consumers “really start to squawk at you.”
While chiles haven’t opened up to genetic modification, researchers have identified molecular markers, like reading a DNA fingerprint. Traditional pathology screenings take six weeks to three months and have to run for one disease at a time. The latest testing for molecular markers for disease resistance, which involves taking and testing a hole-punch sample of a leaf, can be completed much earlier in the plant’s life and can screen for a dozen different resistances. It’s much faster.
Faced with diseases that can wipe out a chile harvest, Berke says, breeding for disease resistance has been the focus at Monsanto.
“We’ve identified a disease resistance package of four different traits that we’re focused on,” he says, listing four fungi and bacteria that can attack peppers from their roots to their leaves. “We think with those four disease resistances we should be able to grow a hybrid anywhere in the US or Mexico.”
Increased natural resistance to those pests could also reduce the use of pesticides. To be clear, Monsanto does no genetic modification work on chiles—not for “Roundup Ready” crops and not for built-in pesticide-resistance often now deployed in corn and soybeans. A NMSU faculty member has received funding from the New Mexico Chile Growers Association to develop a chile resistant to glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, but results of that research have not yet been published.
The drip irrigation revolution that started around 2005 has dramatically reduced the amount of water required to grow crops, Berke says, alleviating some of pressure for research in that area.
“Nobody is really asking me about drought resistance at this particular time,” Berke says. “Peppers are a fairly high-value crop. They can afford to pay for water to irrigate them, much more so than wheat or cotton or row crops with fairly high water consumption but low value, so they’re happy to pay for whatever water they need for peppers.”
Whatever the next change that comes, Berke sees it likely to arrive on the wings of gene-editing technology. This more precise method for changing specific base pairs to create alleles that exist already in nature could be applied to existing hybrid parents, instantly giving them a new resistance without having to breed new parents.
“This would be a lot faster and more convenient, so that’s going to be the next big thing coming down the pike in breeding,” Berke says. “We think this is going to be more widely accepted than, say, the GMOs that have caused such a controversy.”
Drones have also increasingly found a place in farm country, checking conditions on massive fields of commodity crops. Whether they’ll be able to work for vegetable crops remains to be seen. Camera and battery technology will need to improve, but could potentially allow for drones to be used to monitor for drought stress and nitrogen deficiency, alerting farmers where to target fertilizer and water.
“There’s a lot of potential. There’s a lot of interest, for sure,” Berke says. “I think it’ll be a very useful tool in the future.”
Another solution at play is the oldest in the book—the question of allowing crops to naturally evolve within their landscape. After all, selective breeding by farmers over eons has played a large role in how we’ve gotten the wide range of flavors, shapes, colors and spice levels already available.
“Maybe now is when allowing plants to adapt naturally becomes more important than creating clones of an existing plant,” says Romero, back in Santa Fe. “So maybe we need to go back to the open-pollinated-type plants that are able to adapt to their region, and that’s part of what the local chile has become.”
Much of his seed he purchases, then plants seedlings in a greenhouse in Dixon and later moves them to his fields. But he’s also bred his own new variety, the Alcalde Improved, which he says is their best-tasting and hottest chile, and was the fastest-moving among his roasted chiles that Tuesday morning at the farmers market. He sells it as a seedling as well.
“If you’re up here in this altitude, it’s probably the only one that will do well here, because it’s more adapted to Northern New Mexico,” he says. “If you take a plant to another bioregion, it can adapt to that region’s altitude and latitude and heat and season length within seven years. It becomes a new species, a new variety based on its adaptations. … What’s going to be the key is allowing the plants to adapt to the conditions.”
One of the main providers for seeds in New Mexico is a seed company out of southeastern Arizona, the 33-year old Curry Seed and Chile Company, which claims that 80 to 90 percent of the chiles grown commercially in the US can be traced to Curry’s farm.
The concern is that when a single company produces the seeds for crops and distributes them around the country, that system of inherited resilience gets disrupted.
“Landrace chile cultivars” such as the Alcalde Improved are unique to their areas, developed by farming families over generations of selection, and have adapted to Northern New Mexico’s cooler temperatures and shorter growing season—where the last spring freeze can hit as late as May or June, compared to January for counties in the southern portion of the state. Familiar names in landrace lineup include the Chimayó, Velarde, Jemez, Escondida and San Felipe.
Guzmán has also been saving his own seeds and replanting from those since the 1980s. That’s 30 years of wisdom about what it takes to grow in Northern New Mexico bred into those plants. He cleans the seeds from chiles that are then turned into chile powder, which he also sells at his stand at the farmers market. When someone loses their crops, he’ll reload them with seeds grown from his farm.
“I think they do better,” he says. “They do a lot better than ones that you buy.”
In all of this change, Bosland cautions, let’s not lose sight of what really matters: flavor. While New Mexico’s crops may cost more to grow, he sees them as capable of dropping the competition when it comes to quality, so that’s where he focuses his attention.
“What we’re trying to do is make chile more flavorful—taste better—so that the consumer will demand the NuMex varities,” he says. All NMSU-produced varieties include the tag NuMex in their name.
That’s produced oddities, like the NuMex Trick-or-Treat, a no-heat habañero pepper sought for its flavor and aroma rather than spice, or the NuMex 6-4, which boasted six times more flavor than its competitor when it entered the market.
For an analogy, he looks to Californian wine. For years, vineyards there cranked out affordable wine by the gallon. Then Robert Mondavi came along and elevated the level of craftsmanship and care.
“I think we’re going to have to do the same thing if New Mexico wants to compete,” he says.
Like heirloom tomatoes and the campaign for more options for apples than red and yellow delicious, he says, “it costs more to grow, you have to pay a little more, but I think the American public is willing to spend a little more if they’re going to get a real quality product.”
The price difference might amount to a 10 percent hike, he estimates.
“It’s an industry that I think is really trying to adapt to all the changes and challenges that it’s currently facing, it really is, and there are a lot of people out there who have put a lot of effort into making it better for New Mexico,” says Kelly Urig, author of New Mexico Chiles: History, Legend and Lore. “I am concerned about its future. … It’s become in such high demand, and because it’s so popular all over the US now, people won’t care if it’s coming from New Mexico or a different state like Colorado or Arizona and they’ll buy it regardless because they want that taste, and because it’s popular.”
If real New Mexican chile costs more, would people pay it?
“I hope so. The only reason I hope so is that I really hope that money goes back to the farmers so they can continue to do what they’ve done for generations. This is a 400-year tradition for us,” she says. “I hope people are willing to pay a little bit so that that’s something that is continued to be part of our culture and our New Mexican identity, more than any other state.”
Romero sees a lot of strategies for farmers to boost their profit margins, going organic among them. At the New Mexico Chile Conference (yes, that’s a thing) in February of this year, he provoked chile growers with the question, “How would you like to triple your income without planting one extra acre?”
The combined forces of a limited supply and a buyer more motivated by the product’s organic label than a price tag allow for that, he argues. The level of record-keeping required for organic growers also means that at the end of the season, when a farmer realizes a crop should have been planted weeks earlier, there’s a journal detailing exactly when that crop was put in the ground.
An uncle who briefly dabbled in farming gave Romero an axiom he still often cites: Farmers don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. That applies both to each year’s harvest, and the broader trend of growing these crops.
“I don’t see the future farmers really coming up with the solutions for the future,” he says. “If we don’t think about our future and we don’t plan for it, one day you’re going to wake up, it’s going to be there unexpectedly and you’re not going to be ready for it.”
A fellowship from the National Press Foundation supported some of the research for this story.
Humble, Glorious Carrots
Raw carrots are marvelous fresh from the gardenFood WritingWednesday, September 28, 2016
I’ve been pulling carrots out of my garden this week. I eat most of them raw, just sitting at my desk, mindlessly munching. The other humans in my house aren’t into our stubby little Red-Cored Chantenays (although the dogs think they’re amazing treats).
So I laughed out loud the other day when I was watching It Happened One Night on TV. You remember this one. It’s a classic Frank Capra screwball rom-com from 1934 that won the big five Academy Awards that year. Dreamy Clark Gable is a journalist on the run with spoiled heiress Claudette Colbert, dead broke and hungry, and he offers her a carrot he’s pilfered from someone’s garden. Mortified, she looks at him as though he’s insane. “RAW?!” she huffs and turns up her nose even though she’s starving. A few minutes later she’s bumping down the road in a purloined jalopy and we know she’s made a major life transition when she humbly picks up a carrot and chomps away.
Whether you grow them, buy them at a farmers market or just pick up a 99-cent bag at the grocery store, humble carrots get pretty fancy when you turn them into perfect little matchsticks. You can use your sharpest chef’s knife to cut those matchsticks, or try a julienne peeler. It looks like a regular vegetable peeler, but with a row of sharp teeth. It makes skinny little matchsticks from almost anything and it doesn’t take up much room in the drawer. Julienne peelers usually cost less than $10.
A mandoline is an awesome thing to have around the house. I use mine for pommes Anna or Tarte Tatin, two recipes that transform humble ingredients into delicious works of art. But it’s also the best tool for julienning a bunch of something. Williams-Sonoma has a particularly wide selection, from a $40 Oxo model to a $200 de Buyer Revolution. Somewhere in between is probably fine.
Of course you can also just shred carrots with the same box grater you’ve had forever—the point is to cut raw carrots into small pieces.
You can simply toss them with some fresh herbs and a homemade vinaigrette and voila! A little salad even Claudette Colbert would eat. Or here are a few other ideas:
(Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon)
This is the ubiquitous garnish you find nestled in your banh mi sandwich and snuggling up to the grilled pork with your rice vermicelli. Daikon radishes are those long, skinny white radishes you see in Asian markets. The flavor is much milder than regular red radishes and it mellows considerably in this quick pickle.
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/2 pound carrots and daikon radish, julienned
- In a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl, combine the water, sugar, salt and vinegar. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Pack the julienned vegetables into glass jars and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Seal the jars and let them sit overnight or preferably several days before using. They’ll last a few weeks in the fridge.
Grated Moroccan Carrot Salad
Most recipes for this dish use chunks of lightly cooked carrots, but it’s also a great way to use grated fresh carrots.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 pound carrots, grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, mint or cilantro
- Cayenne, hot paprika or red chile powder to taste
- Salt to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and spices. Add the carrots and herbs and toss to combine. Season to taste with chile and salt.
- Serve immediately or allow the flavors to meld on the counter for an hour or so.
Raw Carrot and Beet Salad
If you’re pulling beets out of the garden with the carrots, why not mix the two together in a pretty, earthy salad?
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 4/6 tablespoons olive oil
- Honey or agave nectar to taste
- 1 pound carrots and beets, grated or julienned
- Salt and pepper
- In a small bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, orange zest and juice, then pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until you like the consistency.
- In a large bowl, toss the grated vegetables with enough vinaigrette to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
Edition One brings Santa Fe’s diverse contemporary photography community into focusArt FeaturesWednesday, September 28, 2016
“Photography is kind of an isolating field,” says Jerry Courvoisier. “You’re always in your own world and trying to produce your work.” He lounges on an easy chair in the front room of Edition One, a concept gallery for contemporary photography hidden in the upper reaches of Canyon Road. Pilar Law, who co-founded the space last December, nods in agreement from a nearby sofa. “I think we can re-coin the phrase ‘it’s like herding cats,’” she says. “It’s like herding photographers!”
On the walls hang 40 prints by a diverse group of local artists that Courvoisier united for his traveling exhibition, 20 New Mexico Photographers. He’s been a prominent member of Santa Fe’s photography scene for over 25 years, which is almost as long as Law has been away from New Mexico. She grew up in Santa Fe, but has lived in California for the better part of the past three decades. This show, with its rich cross section of area photographers, has sparked a discussion between the veteran and the newcomer about what it takes to strengthen their community in rapidly changing times.
“I wanted to create a project that was specific to New Mexico,” Courvoisier says. “The exhibition and the edition had to be unique, so I started with the square.” All of the images in the series are in a square format, and about 70 percent of them were originally shot on film. “I asked these photographers to look back through their huge archives,” he continues. “I’m mining information from the past, because it’s beautiful and really quite interesting.” Courvoisier thinks of photographs as “windows in time and space,” and these works deftly chronicle almost a century of photographic output in New Mexico.
The show includes crisp black-and-white photographs by Elliott McDowell and Alan Ross, who worked alongside Ansel Adams. Seasoned photojournalists Jane Phillips and Jack Parsons appear in the show, along with celebrated fine art photographers Lenny Foster and Tony O’Brien. Many of the participating artists are in their 50s, 60s and 70s, but Courvoisier also included a number of younger emerging photographers, including Jennifer Spelman and Rumi Vesselinova.
In 1994, Courvoisier left a teaching position at Southern Illinois University to direct the digital program of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. “I haven’t shot a piece of film since 1999,” he says. “The first digital camera that I had was probably something that Kodak gave me, and it had a 40 megabyte hard drive as a backpack. It was about the cost of a European sports car. I’ve been on that track forever.” He helped direct the workshops for almost 14 years and built a web of connections that would later inspire his ambitious new project.
There are 26 prints of each of the 40 images in the 20 New Mexico Photographers series, totaling 1,040. Courvoisier is offering each print for $165, which is a steal for some of the bigger names in the show. “I wanted this to be accessible to people, so that they could affordably collect significant New Mexico artists,” he says. The first manifestation of the exhibition was a pop-up show near the Santa Fe Plaza this July, and now Courvoisier has teamed up with Law for a second round at Edition One.
“It’s a time capsule for what’s going on in New Mexico right now,” says Law. “You have the old school photographers who have been here for a really long time, and the emerging photographers who are doing something new.” Law is just starting to feel out the photographic community. Her mother is local documentary photographer Lisa Law, so she grew up with an older generation of Santa Fe artists. After attending college in Northern California, she worked at a digital photography lab in southern New Mexico and then moved to Los Angeles. There she worked in online photo printing, collaborating with many notable photographers to create some of the first self-published photography books.
When she made her way back to New Mexico and opened Edition One, Law planned to exhibit photographers she’d met through her career in California, but she was also eager to connect with a new generation of Santa Fe photographers. “My approach to group shows is about creating community and diving straight into the deep end in Santa Fe,” Law says. She opened her doors to the community through a series of juried shows, challenging local photographers to submit images in an edition of one. “Doing just one print of an image triggers a need to go out and make more work,” she explains. “It inspires people to keep creating, to stay on the cutting edge and think about what it is they’re doing.”
Courvoisier’s show—with its guest curator and large edition—was a bit of a departure from Edition One’s short history, but its premise fit Law’s mission. Both Courvoisier and Law have spent significant time in the digital world, and they sense a growing desire among their peers for community. Throughout the show, they’ve hosted soirees that connect the participating photographers with the public in novel ways. “If you go to most galleries in town, there’s a specific artist being displayed for four to six weeks. Here, there’s a community of people showing work,” Courvoisier tells SFR. “A lot of these photographers had given up on doing shows like this, so to bring them together and get them talking is pretty cool.”
After the show closes on Oct. 7, Courvoisier hopes to take the works to other photography venues and festivals around the state. Meanwhile, Law plans to continue cultivating the community that the show has helped strengthen. “It’s what we live and breathe,” Law says. “It’s what we know and feel passionate about. I’m all about being a venue and outlet for photographers to make a living and be recognized in the fine art world.”
20 New Mexico Photographers
5-7 pm Wednesday Oct. 5. Free.
Edition One Gallery,
1036 Canyon Road,
‘Starving the Beast’ Review: Higher Education
Battle against deep cuts to higher education funding fuels documentaryYayWednesday, September 28, 2016
Should students and the private sector bear the financial burden of sustaining the publicly funded universities in the United States because individuals and businesses are the beneficiaries? Or does the benefit and responsibility of education fall on our society as a whole? Starving the Beast, a documentary about higher education funding policy’s dramatic shift toward disruption and reform, proposes dozens of other big-thinking questions with these at its heart.
And even though producer Bill Banowsky told an audience at its Santa Fe premiere that he and writer/director Steve Mims aren’t aiming to take sides on the predicament, that they spent years on what he calls “a passion project” speaks volumes. That they noticed the growing trend which one person in the documentary calls “the nation’s most important and least understood fights” should get your attention.
Maybe it’s just the right PR stance when you’re trying to deliver a message. Considering that the opening salvo speech in the production is a fiery one delivered by James Carville, and that his pithy and poignant perspective takes center stage in much of the film’s storyline, also hints where this is leaning. Carville wears a tattered Louisiana State University cap in his commencement address there, but he’s no up-the-middle educator. He’s a long-time capital D political consultant and media darling who worked on Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 push for the White House. And he hasn’t been shy about calling out what he recently said “the suicide of the Republican party.”
“You can have the Koch brothers draw up your curriculum for you,” Carville says in the documentary. “They’d be happy to do that.”
Yet, there’s more to drink than the Carville Kool-Aid. Banowsky is not exaggerating when he points out that the subjects who provide the Beast narrative are diverse, as we get to look into the cold eyes of the director of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy as he explains how it just doesn’t make sense to help poor people learn stuff that doesn’t make money and that tenured teachers are mostly bad apples (we paraphrase).
Much of the impetus of the reform effort comes from the idea of “disruptive innovation,” explored by Clayton Christensen in a series of publications that became gospel for conservative politicians and their business-minded (read: wealthy) allies. They want education institutions to prove that what students are learning has a value in the marketplace. Other voices, including that of University of Virginia media studies professor Siva Vaidhyanathan, have a more liberal leaning, arguing that letting those voices decide what’s valuable is a toxic ideology for the nation.
After a century of higher ed being a relatively untouchable priority for all political parties, domestic education investments peaked in 1980 and have fallen precipitously over the last 35 years. It wouldn’t matter so much if drastic cuts to public money for public higher education were limited to Texas or Louisiana, but Beast demonstrates they’re gripping the nation in Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, and although it’s not mentioned in the documentary, New Mexico too.
Even as the New Mexico Legislature and governor grapple with some of the lowest educational rankings in the country, they’re talking about stripping even more money from the budget of the University of New Mexico.
Banowsky—the founder of Magnolia pictures and the owner of the Violet Crown chain of cinemas with locations not coincidentally in Austin, Texas, and Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Santa Fe Railyard—says he’ll give any policymaker a free ticket to the film and hopes everyone who sees it gets motivated to weigh in because—and we all agree—we can’t afford to not invest in the next generation.
Starving the Beast
Directed by Steve Mims
Violet Crown, NR,
'The Magnificent Seven' ReviewOkWednesday, September 28, 2016
Hold onto your hats, because here comes another remake—this time in the form of legendary Western The Magnificent Seven (which was itself a retelling of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai). In this new iteration, the black-hearted Bartholomew Bogue (a cartoonishly evil Peter Sarsgaard) is hell-bent on taking over the small valley town of Rose Creek, and the people who live there are pretty sad about it. Cue social unrest exploding into street violence and a whole mess of murders.
Observing her husband gunned down in broad daylight doesn’t sit too well with Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), so she hires a duly licensed warrant officer named Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to take Bogue down. “I seek righteousness,” Emma says, “but I shall take revenge.” Dang!
Chisolm takes on the job, natch, and it seems like maybe he has his own mysterious reasons for pursuing Bogue—but he can’t do it alone. This is where the six other guys come into play, though their motivations are flimsy at best. Faraday (the always likeable Chris Pratt), for example, owes Chisolm for getting his horse out of hock, and Goodnight Robicheaux (a surprisingly decent Ethan Hawke) joins because, uh … well, he just does. Ditto for his stereotypical Asian pal Billy Rocks (Bynug-hun Lee), the tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), a Mexican outlaw named Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and a loner Comanche warrior named Red Harvest (whom they meet completely by chance and who joins the posse because he seemingly didn’t have anything else going on—played by Martin Sensmeier). It’s fun enough to watch the assemblage of the group, and there is definite chemistry between Washington and Pratt, but this must be about the most predictable movie of all time. And sure, it’s a remake, but we honestly expected a more sophisticated retelling from such an accomplished writer (True Detective mastermind Nic Pizzolatto). Everything plays out exactly how you’d expect and the overused filmic devices just keep on a-coming. It sure is entertaining, though, and one does wonder how on earth a two-hour film that’s basically just dudes getting shot in the face didn’t pick up the R rating. Regardless, The Magnificent Seven is fine. Just fine.
The Magnificent Seven
Violet Crown, Regal,