Ganados del Valle (Herds of the Valley), located in Los Ojos, was established in 1983 as a nonprofit economic development corporation. Ganados’ mission is to demonstrate how the Hispano and Native American cultures of northern NM and southern Colorado can decrease poverty and protect ancestral lands and waters by creating programs and enterprises that add value to cultural, agricultural and natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way.

 

In 2010 Ganados was entrusted with stewardship of 200 acres of conservation easement. Ganado initially leased 140 acres as hay fields while deciding how best to sustainably use its resources while protecting the adjacent riparian area. In 2011 a greenhouse was built, and gardens were started in 2012. A produce stand to provide fresh vegetables to the local communities opens this month, and Ganados is launching a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. www.ganadosdelvalle.org

 

 

Tierra Wools,a retail store in Los Ojos, is operated by Los Ojos Handweavers, a company owned by the growers, spinners and hand weavers that produce its goods, as well as supporting investors. The company, started in 1983 as part of Ganados del Valle, also offers spinning, hand dyeing and weaving workshops.

 

By buying local wool, hiring local people and carrying on the Rio Grande weaving tradition, the company fills a gap in this remote mountainous area by providing training and experience in business management and the art of weaving. By developing new skills and participating in a successful business, members and employees have developed self-esteem and have been empowered to take leadership in their homes and in the community. Tierra Wools employs 10-15 people, depending on the season. Most of the money the company generates recirculates within the local economy.

 

Tierra Wools has revived natural dyeing of organically raised wool yarns. The Rio Grande weaving style was influenced by Spanish, Mexican and Indian designs. It is characterized by the use of stripes and bands, Saltillo diamond patterns (usually in the center of the weaving) and Vallero (six-pointed) stars.

 

The initiative has received support from Valley National Bank, the NM Dept. of Agriculture, NM Sheep and Goat Council, Regional Development Corporation, NM Community Foundation, SCI/ZERI-NM and the NRGNHA. Tierra Wools may be contacted at 575.588.7231 or visit www.handweavers.com.

 

 

Los Ojos is a mountain village in Río Arriba County. Native American communities in the region are said to go back to AD 800. Spanish and Mexican settlers arrived in the early 1600s and developed a traditional pattern of cooperative land tenure. The agro-pastoral economy evolved, based on horses, cattle and the hardy long-wool Churro sheep, which are well suited to this mountainous region and arid climate. The sustainable system of pooling flocks and herds for grazing using high meadows in the summer and lower river valleys in the winter was disrupted when the US took over NM in 1948 under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and contrary to the treaty’s provisions, imposed barbed wire fences to enforce individual ownership. Local farmers lost millions of acres of communal and private land through fraud, swindling, lawyers’ fees and outright sales.

 

 

 

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