Archive for October, 2011

Reflections from a “Do” Tank: Quivira and Conservation in the West

Courtney White

Recently, an acquaintance asked me what I did for a living. After explaining that I ran a nonprofit that worked with ranchers and conservationists in the Southwest on land health and sustainability issues, he said summarily, “Oh, you run a Think Tank.” Without pausing, I replied “No, Quivira is a ‘Do’ Tank,” which elicited a nod and smile.

Afterwards, I thought about this brief exchange. What did I mean? Partly, I was being provocative – I believe the world needs another Think Tank likes it needs another TV pundit or Beltway lobbyist. I wanted him to understand that we More >

What is the Quivira Coalition?

Founded in 1997 by two conservationists and a rancher, the Quivira Coalition is a nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, dedicated to building economic and ecological resilience in western working landscapes.

Quivira does this via four broad initiatives: 1) improving land health; 2) sharing knowledge and innovation; 3) building local capacity; and 4) strengthening diverse relationships.

Quivira’s projects include: an annual conference, a ranch apprenticeship program, a long-running riparian restoration effort in northern New Mexico on behalf of the Rio Grande Cutthroat trout, a capacity-building collaboration with the Ojo Encino Chapter of the Navajo Nation, various outreach activities, and the promotion of More >

2011 Quivira Conference

Featured Speakers:

Bill McKibben – Author and Environmentalist – Vermont

Bill is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature (1989). He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him “the planet’s best green journalist.” In 2011 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

William deBuys – Author and Conservationist – El Valle, NM

Bill deBuys’ books include A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American West (2011, Oxford University Press) and River of More >

The Agrarian Standard

Wendell Berry

The Unsettling of America was published in 1977; it is still in print and is still being read. As its author, I am tempted to be glad of this, and yet, if I believe what I said in that book, and I still do, then I should be anything but glad. The book would have had a far happier fate if it could have been disproved or made obsolete years ago.

It remains true because the conditions it describes and opposes, the abuses of farmland and farming people, have persisted and become worse. By 2002 we had less than half More >

New Agrarians

Courtney White and Avery C. Anderson

Sustainability. Adaptation. Mitigation. Local. Grass-fed. Resilience.

These words, so much in the news today across the globe, barely registered on people’s radar screens 15 years ago. For example, when we founded the Quivira Coalition in 1997, we were focused on peace-making, collaboration, land health and good stewardship. Issues such as climate change, local food production, grass-fed meat, and other “modern” concerns were rarely discussed, if at all. That’s not the case anymore. Soon, these words will require a new conservation paradigm, one that combines the ecological, the economic and the social.

Fortunately, one is emerging, and More >

The Re-homesteader

Courtney White

Dorn Cox’s goal is as audacious as it is visionary: reignite New Hampshire’s local farm economy.

When I first met Dorn, he stood in a hayfield behind a University of New Hampshire professor’s house, spreading wood ash carefully among a grid of study plots. His research (for a Ph.D.) is aimed at figuring out the best way to turn the hayfield into a vegetable farm without tilling it. Normally, in order to convert a grass field into a farm, the farmer would bring out the plow and a tractor and go to work furrowing the land in preparation for More >

Fresh AIRE: Agriculture Implementation Research & Education

Planting Three Seeds

Para mi, para vos, y para los animalitos de Dios

– Miguel Santistevan

The 2011 growing season was approached, as any, absolutely enthusiastically in anticipation of what a growing season will bring; what crops we are growing-out and how many students’ lives might be changed as accomplices to creating life through the planting of seed, nurturing of plants and harvest. As a farmer rooted in acequia technique, looking at the relatively meager snowpack, I was also excited to see how my crops would differentially survive. Lack of snowpack is not enough to deter us. We believe that if we do More >

Agricultural Marketing in New Mexico

Don Bustos

When I was not more than 7 years old I remember going with my mother and father to the small villages of Ojo Sarco and Penasco. Mom and I walked from house to house, selling buckets of green chile for 50 cents (uno bota de diez). Empty lard cans were the standard measurement. We would also bring cucumbers, squash and potatoes. Dad would sell a 50-pound sack of potatoes for $2. He always made sure we would shake the sack and put in as many papas as the sack could carry. He wanted to make sure his customers More >

CARLY – Conservation and Ranching Leadership and Youth

Courtney White

In 2008, the Quivira Coalition partnered with several ranches and farms around the Southwest to launch CARLY – Conservation and Ranching Leader­ship and Youth. While the CARLY program was originally established with a focus on the intersection of conserva­tion and ranching, it now offers aspiring young agrarians a broad range of agricultural experiences. CARLY seeks to pair eager apprentices with experienced men­tors in sustainable agricultural operations around the Southwest. The program strikes a balance between mentorship activities and self-directed initiatives, with op­portunities to attend workshops, classes and conferences that support apprentice learning. Quivira values applicants with a diversity More >

Kneeling in Mud:
the conundrums of a tree hugging, cattle ranching human

Julie Sullivan

I’m kneeling in mud and manure, my hands through the metal bars of the crowding tub, propping up the bum front leg of this day-old calf who is trying to nurse his mamma. It just started to rain. Everyone else is in the house. Every life is precious.

It’s April. On our ranch, this means we are calving. Nighttime lows drop to single digits, and daytime highs may reach 50 degrees. Temperature swings and the shrieking endless wind are hard on calves and humans alike. Fourteen-thousand-foot peaks to the east are covered in snow.

I grew up in a small More >

Alone in a World of Beautiful Wounds:
Opportunities to Do Better by the Land

“We, as restorationists, must become partners with natural healing processes. The art is to know which part of the process we must become.” Craig Sponholtz

Ever since I was very young, I have been enthralled by the immensity of western landscapes. I imagined that people who live in and visit the mountains, plains and deserts of the West experience the classic idea of landscape beauty. This is the kind of beauty that can even be absorbed at a glance while traveling at high speeds down expansive highways. It is immediate, accessible and requires no commitment. I have spent most of my More >

Comanche Creek

Since 2002, the Quivira Coalition has been the chief organizer of a collaborative restoration project along Comanche Creek, located in the western half of the Valle Vidal unit of the Carson National Forest near the Colorado state line. This project is funded by the EPA, under its Clean Water Act mandate, and includes the Forest Service; the New Mexico Environment Department – Surface Water Quality Bureau; New Mexico Game & Fish; Trout Unlimited –Truchas Chapter; New Mexico Trout; the Valle Vidal Grazing Association; the Youth Conservation Corps; Zeedyk Ecological Consulting; Rangeland Hands; Resource Management Services; Stream Dynamics and others.

There are More >

Restoring Hózhó: Building Bio-Cultural Resilience on the Navajo Nation

Tammy Herrera

In 2005, the Quivira Coalition was approached by a group of Navajo ranchers who were running out grass, running out of money and running out of time to reverse the trend. Fortunately, they were also running out of patience with conventional land management dogma and had the sincere desire to be stewards of their community’s resources. With the support of the Ojo Encino Rancher’s Committee and the Rio Puerco Alliance, Quivira’s Navajo colleagues have spent the past six years laying the groundwork for resilience in their communities.

The goal of Quivira’s efforts is to develop a comprehensive climate-change adaptation More >

Faren Dancer’s GREEN TALK: Our Life Breath…Restoring the Grasslands

Since childhood it’s been considered a given that forests were the “lungs” of the world. But it was recently brought to my attention that grasslands produce more oxygen and pick up more carbon than rainforests. And the issue here is that these very grasslands are rapidly turning to deserts in many places around the globe. Given the havoc created by modern man’s mindless approach to dealing with nature (why not take a cue from the indigenous cultures or Mother Nature herself?), aspects of our ecosystem are being compromised, and the effects can be alarming. But there is, through understanding, education More >

The Soil’s Food Web

Iginia Boccalandro

When we look at bare ground we are looking at dead soil. Kirk Gadzia, Holistic Land Manager, has declared it public enemy number one because it allows erosion, loss of topsoil and water, increases deserts, and because it fails to remove carbon from the atmosphere, which is crucial to climate stabilization.

The soil’s food web is one of the main reasons we are alive. It is the active biology in the soil that breaks down rock into chelated minerals that, along with organic matter, make humus, which holds water and transports nutrients to plant life. Plants, in turn, create More >

The Story behind the Book, A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest

William deBuys

The only conference I regularly attend is the annual Quivira Coalition gathering in Albuquerque. Usually I stop by for a morning or an afternoon to see old friends. At the event in 2005 I found myself alone in the hotel hallway when everyone went into the ballroom to hear a talk about climate change. After a while, I went in too and took a seat in the back. The speaker turned out to be Jonathan Overpeck, a major figure within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which the U.N. had established in 1988. (In 2007 the IPCC More >


New Mexico Green Chamber Opens Office in Taos

At a time when the news out of Washington is pretty grim in regard to green energy, green jobs and other steps to sustainability, the news from New Mexico is extremely encouraging, particularly regarding the NM Green Chamber of Commerce (NMGCC).

On the state level, the NMGCC already has over 1,200 members. It advocates on behalf of renewable business sectors (energy, construction, agriculture), strengthening local, living, clean energy economies, and seizing the green business advantage. Furthermore, the NMGCC is helping businesses succeed.

Recently in Taos, 25 business owners and citizens launched the Taos Chapter of the NMGCC. More >