May 2012

Northern NM’s Solar Energy Future – Community Solar Projects and Scenario Planning


Erin Sanborn, Steve Fuhlendorf and Mary Emery


How our renewable energy future will unfold is unknown. Changes in this industry are multiple, occurring rapidly, and outside forces can shift the industry in a very short time frame. In order to move toward a clean energy future, a business must be able to see different systems and causal relationships plus constantly think outside the box. Given today’s business conditions, one scenario is to utilize the willingness of many, many people to participate in solar energy development and marry it to New Mexico’s underutilized solar potential. One model is for community solar arrays More >

My Solar Story…What’s Yours Going to Be?


Daniel Weinman

The evolution of solar power has come a long way since my family began utilizing it in 1979, when the technologies were in their infancy and the only demand for solar power grew from necessity rather than from its “green” benefits. In 2010, New Mexico ranked seventh in the nation among states for its number of grid-tie solar installations, and the industry is one of the fastest growing in the country.

During President Carter’s administration, the solar power boom was largely unregulated. A lot of unskilled handymen came out of the woodwork to install solar electric and thermal systems More >

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Makes $ense for Homes and Businesses


Craig O’Hare


Santa Fe County established the Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the spring of 2011. The Office promotes deployment of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies in county facilities and operations and in the residential and commercial sectors to promote “green economy” job creation and economic development. Our public outreach, education and technical assistance services are available to all county residents and businesses, including those located within the city limits of Santa Fe, Edgewood and Española. Encouraging the adoption of cost-effective energy-efficiency measures by businesses and homeowners will decrease energy utility expenditures, while creating locally sourced clean More >

Energy Efficient Buildings Would Reduce Global Warming Pollution, Save New Mexican Families $309 Annually


Families in New Mexico could save $309 every year on their electricity bills by 2030 if the government invests in improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings, according to a report released last month by Environment New Mexico, a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.


Using government data, the report, Building a Better America: Saving Energy and Money with Efficiency, says that saving energy in buildings would also reduce global warming pollution from buildings by 31 percent—the equivalent of taking more than 657,000 cars off the road.“It’s time to build better,” said Sanders Moore, Environment NM’s director. “Bold efficiency measures More >

March for Responsible Energy May 14


Students for a Sustainable Future (SSF), a group of environmentally-aware students (a.k.a. unabashed tree huggers) from St. John’s College in Santa Fe are working in collaboration with the Climate Change Leadership Institute ( on a direct action project – LIFT the FOG (Launch Integrity and Facing Truth in Fracking Oil and Gas), which aims to push for sensible regulations in the fracking industry and promote responsible energy development.


On May 14 at noon, SSF will host a 1-mile march to protest the attempt by the oil and gas industry to overturn New Mexico’s PIT rule, which provides for proper wastewater disposal More >

Environmental Audit for Small Businesses and Community Centers


A simple environmental audit to measure your business or organization’s progress in integrating earth-wiser lifestyle habits

Anyone can conduct an environmental audit of your business or community center. First, choose an audit team. Your team can be made up of members of your leadership, your environmental committee, or any group of people from your organization who will take some time to do it. To conduct your audit, the audit team should review your organization’s procedures, and answer each of the following questions “Yes” or “No.”

Part A. Energy (electricity and gas):

1. Do you know how much electricity and natural gas you use?

2. More >


  Utility and Commercial Demand for Solar Is Up in New Mexico

New Mexico Business Weekly reports that New Mexico’s solar manufacturing companies are showing substantial growth in utility- and commercial-scale projects.


Native American-owned, Albuquerque-based Sacred Power Corp. installs solar systems at, among other places, military installations and on tribal lands. The company has forecast double-digit expansion. Unirac, Inc., which makes mounting platforms for solar trackers, is projecting an 80 percent revenue increase, and is considering a second expansion of its Albuquerque facility.


Part of the reason for the companies’ growth is attributed to price declines for large solar systems. Costs have fallen More >

Santa Fe County Offers Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Forums in Early May


Santa Fe County’s Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency is conducting two free energy assistance forums. On May 3rd, the Residential Forum will focus on available energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives and financing for homeowners. On May 7th, the Commercial Forum will focus on cost-effective energy-related improvements that area businesses can take advantage of. Both forums begin at 6 pm and take place in the Board of County Commission Chambers in the County Administration Building, 102 Grant Avenue.

After informational presentations and a question and answer session, renewable energy (solar electric, solar hot water, ground-source heat pumps, etc.) and More >

2012 And Beyond: Sustainable Systems, the Predicament of Water in New Mexico, and the Need to Localize Our Local Economies


Jorge Garcia


Recently I had an opportunity to fly over Las Vegas, Nevada. As I looked down at the northeast part of the city, I was dumbfounded at the sight of all the suburban houses that have a pool. This was in sharp contrast to the land beyond the surrounding mountains that provide shelter to the Las Vegas Valley. I found myself thinking about the water crisis looming beyond those mountains, and how we continue to challenge and upset local ecosystems based on our often irresponsible notions of development. And so I found myself questioning the rationale behind having so many More >



Growing Season 2012


Miguel Santistévan


This growing season is already progressing with activity, hope and enthusiasm for what is to come. From our grow-dome at Chrysalis High School in Taos, last month we harvested our first batch of greens for salad and sauté. Our students have been surprised at how good fresh greens taste, and have amazed themselves with their ability to thin and transplant seedlings. While our outer beds explode in greenery, we are working to double our production area through the construction of the center beds for fruit and vegetables, in addition to specialty crops like cotton and gourds. We More >

¡Sostenga! Eremita Campos – Where Tradition Meets Sustainability


Camilla Bustamante


On May 12, Northern New Mexico College will award the second honorary degree in the history of the 100-year-old school. The first went to Esther Martinez of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh for her work towards the preservation of the Tewa language. This year, Eremita Campos is being recognized for her lifelong work and contribution to the conservation of sustainable agriculture in northern New Mexico.

In 1990, the US government defined sustainable agriculture in Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1683, as “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, More >

del are llano / From the Arid Land

The Moorish Influence in New Mexico Agriculture


Juan Estévan Arellano



To understand “traditional” agriculture in northern New Mexico, one has to go back several thousand years, and several continents, from the first spring-fed irrigated gardens at Jericho to the chinampas of the Aztecs in Xochimilco. And we cannot talk about traditional agriculture without exploring the role of the Moors, though on the surface, when trying to find the Indo-Hispano agricultural traditions, many times they are simplistically and erroneously referred to as “Spanish” in origin. But it was the Moors who made the Iberian Peninsula bloom and produce new and exotic fruits and vegetables.


What More >

Going Green by Going Goats


Why Goatscape? or

The First 12 Reasons We Could Think Of Why You Should Employ Goats


Amanita and David Thorp

The use of goats in parks, cities, residences, and along roadways is an authentic alternative to chemicals, weed mowers and fire, which have been overused in the past. The idea of “goatscaping,” while not new, is currently experiencing a resurgence of popularity. But it is not as simple as leaving a few hungry animals on a plot of land until the ground is rediscovered. The way we goatscape is an adaptation of Management Intensive Browse (MiB), which allows the animals to harvest the More >

Homegrown Medicinal Herbs


Susan Waterman


Many favorite herbs that we enjoy in savory stews, soups and salads take the lead in home herb gardens for their culinary uses but also have important and effective medicinal properties that go unnoticed or are underutilized. The intention of this article is to touch on common medicinal uses of several easy-to-grow popular herbs. Complete information on medicinal applications can be found online and in herbal resource books such as James Duke’s The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook or Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. The information in this article does not comprise a recommendation for treatment of any medical More >

EVERYDAY GREEN: Eating Herbs for Health


Susan Guyette



While herbs are well known as tasty additions to cooked meals, the everyday benefits of herbs for maintaining good health are often overlooked. Daily consumption in cuisine is different from the prepared herbs and tonics used to address illness. Uses mentioned in this article can become part of the daily healing process. With this in mind, now is the time to think through the possibilities of a backyard herb garden.


Gaining an appreciation of herbs brings us to a sense of place and palate. Diverse cultures globally have incorporated a mix of herbs into their daily cuisines for thousands More >

A Visit to the Farmers’ Market to Learn About the Farm Bill


Kathleen Gonzalez


The Farm Bill is probably not the first thing on our minds when we visit our local farmers’ market. For many of us the Farm Bill means payments to “Big Ag” corn and wheat producers in the Midwest. Most people are surprised to learn that 68 percent of the funding for the Farm Bill goes to the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP—formerly food stamps). And although it’s true that over 90 percent of the remaining funds go to subsidies, conservation payments and insurance programs for those big growers, there is a small, but important sliver of the pie More >

Good Luck and Fast Action Enabled NM and AZ to Get Funds for Seniors


It appeared to be an act of providence that Farm to Table Executive Director Pam Roy was in Washington, DC at a national conference on farmers’ markets in 2007. The hot topic was the Farm Bill and a popular program called the Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Roy had worked on the original legislation for the Farm Bill-funded program that began in 2001.

New Mexico, along with Arizona and the Rocky Mountain states, had been left out of SFMNP due to limited funding. Roy heard that states not already participating would not become eligible unless their state health departments More >

The 2008 Farm Bill: Selected Programs and Policies


Title II: Conservation: Environmental stewardship of farmlands and improved management practices through land retirement and working lands programs, among other programs geared to farmland conservation, preservation and resource protection.

Title IV: Nutrition: Domestic food and nutrition and commodity distribution programs, such as SNAP (food stamps), Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and other supplemental nutrition assistance.

Title V: Farm Credit: Federal direct and guaranteed farm loan programs, and loan eligibility rules and policies.

Title VI: Rural Development: Business and community programs for planning, feasibility assessments, and coordination activities with other local, state and federal programs, including rural broadband access.

Title VII: Research: Agricultural research More >

ASK THE BUGMAN: Control Pests Without Toxic Pesticides


Richard Fagerlund



Pesticides are a mixture of chemicals used to kill, repel or otherwise control various perceived pests, including insects, mites, rodents, birds, fish, weeds, fungi and others. Pesticides are comprised of a number of different compounds, including active and inert ingredients, as well as potential contaminants and pollutants.


Active ingredients are the only components of the pesticide listed on the label. These are the chemicals that kill and repel the pests. Active ingredients also contain synergists, such as piperonyl butoxide (PBO), to help the pesticide work more effectively. A very commonly used synergist, Piperonyl butoxide can be toxic to the liver More >

The Center for Innovation and Sustainability: Developing the Santa Fe Region’s Emerging Sustainable Economy


Brian Skeele


Last September I got to be the guest associate editor of Green Fire Times. The entire issue was dedicated to envisioning the creation of “Sustainable Urban Villages” in our area—vibrant, alive, quality-filled, deeply affordable, mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods that live lightly on the planet. The challenge remains: How do we actually create sustainable “triple-bottom-line” alternatives to suburban sprawl— thriving, resilient communities that are good for people, the planet and the polar bears?


If done right, a smart infill demonstration Sustainable Urban Village (SUV) showcase in Santa Fe would generate local economic development, expand ecotourism and help transform the planet. In today’s hyperlinked More >