- Farmers Markets
- Food Processors
- Online Sales
- Schools & Food Banks
- Specialty Grocers
Agricultural related travel can take on many different forms including farm tours, roadside stands, and festivals. In addition to generating revenue, agritourism can promote local products and public awareness about them. It can also increase appreciation of agriculture and its many contributions to the community. For example:
- Lavender in the Village is an annual July event that showcases the historic agricultural lands in the valley and small businesses on 4th Street, Rio Grande Boulevard, and Chavez Road.
- The Maize Maze occurs annually in the fall when 10 acres of corn fields are cut into an elaborate labyrinth. Rio Grande Community Farms leases land from Albuquerque City Open Space to demonstrate the possibilities of urban agriculture The maze is the organization's annual fundraiser.
- The New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo is the state's biggest and oldest wine festival and is held annually on Labor Day Weekend. It features live entertainment, food, high quality arts and crafts and 20 or more New Mexico wineries.
A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters which provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover a farm's yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season's harvest.
CSA members make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season, and assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer or grower. This mutually supportive relationship between local farmers, growers and community members helps create an economically stable farm operation in which members are assured the highest quality produce, often at below retail prices. In return, farmers and growers are guaranteed a reliable market for a diverse selection of crops. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides information for farmers wishing to establish a CSA.
In the region, there are nine markets. Those in the Albuquerque area are called Growers' Markets. Outside of Albuquerque, they are called Farmers' Markets. View the full list of markets.
Farmer's markets allow for direct marketing of farm products and is an important sales outlet for agricultural producers. Markets are an integral part of the urban/farm linkage, and they continue to rise in popularity - mostly due to the growing consumer interest in obtaining fresh products.
Connecting Growers with Consumers
Farmers' markets also bring growers in direct contact with restaurant owners and other produce buyers who frequent markets. Even larger growers, with more of a wholesale marketing focus, find farmers' markets an important link to the consumer.
Food processing transforms raw agricultural materials into intermediate foodstuffs or edible products through the application of labor, machinery, energy, and scientific knowledge. While most processing companies are small, there are some which have a large number of employees. Some local crops are processed in state, and most of the livestock is sold to processors and packers out of the state. Those considering starting a processing business might consult Food Entrepreneur Resources.
There are an increasing number of web sites that feature New Mexico products. Most provide contact information on specific products and/or producers. Often these websites can serve as a clearinghouse for information on certain types of farming and offer a range of New Mexico products.
Several area restaurants feature local products. They plan menus and sometimes special dinners based on seasonal crops. Many of them are members of Albuquerque Originals which is an organization comprised of independent restaurateurs uniting to face the challenge of the national dinner-house restaurant chains.
The major goals of Farm to School programs are to partner local farmers with nearby schools, so that children can enjoy tasty fruits and vegetables, while connecting with farms - the source of their food; and farmers can develop an additional source of income.
- Albuquerque Public Schools has purchased New Mexico produce since 2003. APS serves more than 60,000 lunches a day plus 10,000 lunches per day for their summer program. APS purchases local melons and apples, in particular. APS is extremely interested in purchasing New Mexico products when available, and is also interested in purchasing New Mexico value added products to put in school vending machines.
- Kids Cook, a program within the public schools that teaches children about food and nutrition, is another excellent market for smaller quantities of local food.
- The New Mexico Association of Food Banks currently purchases potatoes, onions, and apples, but would like to also buy squash, carrots, and salad greens. One food bank in Albuquerque is committed to being the nation's leading food bank distributor of fresh produce.
Specialty grocers, especially those featuring organic products, offer local products. Some of the local products offered by local stores include produce, meat, cheese, and a variety of local processed products ranging from packaged powdered seasonings and salsas to frozen prepared food. Local products can also be found in select gift shops and catalogues.