Writer: D'Lyn Ford
ALBUQUERQUE - Creating a dialogue about problems facing agriculture in northern New Mexico will be the focus of a "Sustainable Communities-Sustainable Agriculture Workshop" for farmers, local officials and civic organizations Jan. 27 in Santa Fe.
New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) are co-sponsoring the event at the Santa Fe County Extension office at 3229 Rodeo Road on the county fairgrounds.
"Small farms and rural communities in northern New Mexico are struggling to sustain their quality of life," said Edmund Gomez, executive director of NMSU's Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, based in Alcalde. "We're basically at the crossroads. If we want local agriculture and rural traditions to survive, we have to find answers to the problems, and find them fairly soon."
The workshop will include presentations and panel discussions about public lands, acequia (ditch irrigation) systems, water rights and adjudication, and marketing opportunities. It will also examine community responses to sustainable development issues, such as strategies for sustaining quality of life in rural communities, confronting health issues in northern New Mexico and reinforcing a commitment to cultural preservation and land stewardship.
"We're particularly reaching out to long-term agricultural producers and their families - indigenous populations who have been on the land for generations and who are so closely tied to the cultural, social and economic traditions of the region," Gomez said.
Conference organizers expect between 200 and 300 participants, including state legislators and representatives from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
The NCRLC is promoting similar workshops in rural communities across the country in partnership with local organizations. An Iowa-based membership organization, the NCRLC works to preserve and enrich quality of life in rural areas by building on the social, economic, cultural and spiritual strengths of communities.
"We encourage the public to examine the concerns of rural communities and take action to confront the challenges, be they issues of family unity, sustainable agriculture, urban sprawl, globalization or land stewardship," said Brother David Andrews, executive director of the NCRLC. "The goal is to preserve rural culture and society, supporting it even amidst change."
A buffet lunch of traditional northern New Mexico foods will be served at the workshop. Registration costs $5 in advance and $10 on the day of the workshop. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the workshop starts at 9 a.m. For more information, call Gomez at (505) 852-2668 or Patrick Torres at (505) 471-4711.
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