There is a little farm in the traditional historic village of Agua Fria. The farm, which lies along the Santa Fe River, is home to apple and pear orchards, and fields of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Established 60 years ago by John Stephenson, the farm is one of the oldest remaining active farms in Santa Fe—and it is open to the community. Four years ago, the farm became a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that aims to foster “a deeper understanding of the role of agriculture for food security and community.”

Every Saturday last autumn, I’d wander the River Trail from town to its end at Frenchy’s Field and, from there, trudge through the sandy, old-car- and cliff-lined riverbed for the remainder of the walk. At the farm, other volunteers and I—under the guidance of Farm Director Linda Marple—harvested peas, tomatoes, raspberries, grapes, radishes, squash, greens and potatoes (just to name a few). The vast majority of produce harvested is donated to the Food Depot.

“In 2010, the number of families in need grew at an unprecedented rate. Feeding the hungry has never been more important. Recognizing this, the Farm stepped up its production and distribution of food to local charities and low-income families,” the farm’s website explains. The produce that does not go toward feeding the needy is sold at the farm’s seasonal Sunday farm stand, the SFCF’s primary source of funding.

As the weather grew colder, my visits to the farm dwindled. But the farm has been busy applying for grants, planning for volunteers and working on its greenhouse. Lately, as the days grow longer and spring teases us with the occasional warm day, the farm’s been on my mind. The first seeds were planted earlier this month—the 2013 growing season is at hand—and Brassica, lettuce and peas are first on the list.

This year, Marple says, the farm received a $10,000 root2fruit grant from the Santa Fe Community Foundation, and is also hoping for a McCune Charitable Foundation grant, to help fund its many projects, all of which aid the ultimate goal of feeding the needy.

This fall, in addition to its primary mission, the farm will serve as an outdoor classroom for Santa Fe Community College’s new agro-ecology program, which will educate future gardeners and farmers, in addition to sending interns to work on and learn from the farm. And SFCF is planning to host farm- and food-oriented workshops for the community throughout the year; to build an outdoor cooking area and a growing dome for year-round yields; and over spring break, it’s holding a farm camp for kids.

The Farm is one of Santa Fe’s lesser-known gifts—a gift that gives more than just food to those in need: Any day of the week, members of our community can visit the farm; get dirt under their fingernails; spend time in this high-desert valley among rows of fresh earth and colorful produce; and, of course, be certain that others are benefiting from delicious, organic, local food.
Volunteer orientation: 1 pm Saturday, March 16
Santa Fe Community Farm
1829 San Ysidro Crossing

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