Growing Vegetables, Seeding Values

Disaster upon disaster: Wildfires are contaminating the West’s depleting water with ashy sludge

Officials in Las Vegas, New Mexico, had barely finished battling the massive Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak wildfire earlier this month before they had to point their defences toward another threat: the ash-filled erosion that could pollute their water.

The fire-scarred land along the banks of the Gallinas River is on the forefront of Mayor Louie Trujillo’s mind these days. As much as the parched West needs rain, Trujillo and other officials are racing the weather to divert precious river water into a downstream lake before downpour comes and washes the burnt topsoil and ash into the river.

“There are large portions of the watershed you can see that are completely burned. It looks like burnt toothpicks sticking out of the ground for acres and acres,” Trujillo told CNN. “With the soil instability, during a heavy rain event it would be like putting water on a bunch of baby powder where it doesn’t absorb at all; it just falls. We hope to…READ ON

Growing Vegetables, Seeding Values

When we first got here, we got in touch with the CUMA [machinery cooperative]. It’s a great way to integrate: 42 members share equipment and meet every week. You think of each other’s needs. There is a real desire to support and help each other. We all pretty much have the same approach as small farmers: produce and sell locally.

People need to be educated to get involved: that they are supporting small systems that are not mechanised, that are not economically fragile. There’s nothing quaint about coming to help out on the farm.

We can have [outside] commitments because there are 5 of us working on the farm and it makes sense to not use the CUMA as a service. It’s not a service or an agricultural business you’re going to hire. The CUMA works only if there is commitment and participation of the members. The CUMA means we don’t have to make big investments, and we can keep to our rationale of controlling costs, and not be bogged down in repaying bank loans…READ ON

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