Monday, June 24, 2019; Silver City, NM: The National Center for Frontier Communities (NCFC) is the proud recipient of a grant from the New Mexico Community Foundation Permaculture Fund 2019. The awarded funds, of nearly $20,000, will help the region towards attaining food sovereignty, a state of producing enough food to equal the needs of southwest New Mexico residents.
NCFC Food Systems Program Manager Ben Rasmussen said the funds, “basically allow us to gain momentum on several different food projects that are happening in the region.”
Headquartered in Silver City, NCFC prioritizes access to food systems and sovereignty since most of the frontier is classified as a “food desert” by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because of the remote nature of the frontier, many residents are located far from grocery stores limiting their access to affordable and nutritious food. The funded projects will work towards creating a stronger food economy.
The six different permaculture projects funded have a wide scope including building hoop houses, creating water cisterns, planting native crops and solidifying the continuation of the Grant County Seed Library.
NCFC staff and certified permaculture designer Kristin Lundgren said, “Permaculture aims to develop ecosystems that will have permanent presence with or without human interactions; these diverse and resilient systems mimic natural ecology.”
According to Lundgren, the grant will “work towards building a resilient local food economy that can take care of and feed our local populace.”
Several of the projects originated from the Local Food Promotion Program received by NCFC from the USDA two years ago, and now can expand efforts thanks to the additional funds.
Rasmussen said, “Our initial micro-farm trainings have helped launch a number of new farms in the region, but the farmers wanted to take their production to the next level by including permaculture activities to expand their capacity. The New Mexico Community Foundation Permaculture Fund will aid in their efforts.”
Raised beds will be built at the Market Street Garden in Silver City, and Arenas Valley Community Garden will install a water gathering cistern to more effectively gather and store water during the seasonal monsoon rains.
Also, 14 water collection basins will transform into mini-food forests by planting edible native crops with the Wild Resilience Collective, thus feeding and beautifying the region while allowing for better watershed management. NCFC is working on the project with local municipalities and Stream Dynamics, which created the water harvesting basins.
Finally, the permaculture grant will revitalize the Grant County Seed Library by helping develop educational and outreach materials. The seed library has locations at the Silver City Public Library and the Commons, where residents can check out seeds to grow and harvest their own seeds to donate back for others to use.
Rasmussen added, “Also the grant will fund a seed gathering workshop to promote perpetuating the library’s seed stock and build the store of regionally-acclimated seeds available to farmers and gardeners.”
Lundgren says the projects will have a greater impact, “Our efforts can be replicated in place-based ways for each frontier community. We need to be thinking about how to grow resilient and sustainable food systems for all rural areas.”