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Feb 2014--New Farming Cooperatives

Organic Farming Gains Momentum Among Traditional Bernalillo County Communities

Contributed by Arturo Sandoval of CODECE
 
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Three new organic farming cooperatives will begin operations this spring in Albuquerque’s South Valley. With technical assistance from the Cooperative Development Center of New Mexico (CODECE), the new cooperatives are collaborating with the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), Agri-Cultura Network and Bernalillo County to plan their first year of operations.

 “We expect to create about 10 to 15 organic farming cooperatives in Bernalillo County over the next three years,” said CODECE Executive Director Arturo Sandoval. “There is great interest among local residents from traditional communities in organic farming.”

Combined, the three new coops include 27 farmers. Most of the prospective farmers already have deep roots in farming. “Several [of the farmers] have university degrees in agronomy and most grew up farming,” Sandoval said.

This cooperative model integrates organic agriculture, cultural tourism, affordable housing and other cooperative economic development initiatives into a comprehensive regional plan. This, he feels, is a strong approach in promoting and conserving the unique heritage and culture of Nuevo Mexicano families and other communities. It will also provide an economic base for long-term sustainability.

“We are re-focusing existing resources to achieve a 21st century income and sustainable lifestyles for traditional land-based communities,” Sandoval said.

The cooperative model has been an established form of working together for the common good among Nuevo Mexicanos and Mexicanos for several centuries. Communal land grants and acequias—community-owned irrigation systems—have been in place in New Mexico since Spanish colonization began in 1598.

In addition, Native American communities up and down the Rio Grande Basin and across New Mexico used communal irrigation systems for centuries before European colonization occurred. This communal model was, and is, also an integral part of Native Americans social and religious practices.

Sandoval noted that CODECE began operations in fall, 2010, across New Mexico. In that short period, CODECE has helped create 10 co-ops. 

About CODECE

The Cooperative Development Center of New Mexico creates and supports sustainable lifestyles for Nuevo Mexicanos and others through organic agriculture, heritage and cultural tourism and affordable housing. CODECE is the economic development arm of the non-profit Center of Southwest Culture (www.centerofsouthwestculture.org).

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