October 2014

Newsbites – October 2014


The Zia-Bernalillo Farmers’ Markets

In October, you will find local farmers’ markets beaming with an abundance of last harvests and carefully prepared canned goods. At the pueblo of Zia Farmers’ Markets in Bernalillo and San Ysidro, New Mexico, vendors sell locally grown, non-GMO fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs, as well as prepared foods and craft items, homemade soaps and many other items. This is the second year the market has been in operation under the pueblo’s Sustainable Agriculture & Farmers Markets Growers Cooperative Program. The market—at 335 S. Camino del Pueblo, next to Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Bernalillo—is open on Tuesdays and Fridays, 4-7 p.m. The Friday market features demonstrations by the Sandoval County Master Gardeners Program, and you can hear live music by local musicians as you shop. Patrons from northern New Mexico can take the Railrunner to the Bernalillo stop at 400 Station Street, then take a brief, scenic 10-minute walk to the market. Bring your hats and bags to carry purchases.


The pueblo opened a new market this year, the Zia-San Ysidro Farmers Market, on Hwy 550, between the Giant convenience store and the NM 4 junction. It is open from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every Sunday through the end of October. Farmers and artisans from San Ysidro, the Santa Ana area, and the pueblos of Jemez and Zia, sell their goods. Zia Farmers Markets has a Facebook page for regular updates and the latest schedule. For more information, contact Scott Pino at 505.553.3290.


Raising the Roof on a New Nature Center for Northern New Mexico

Northern New Mexico, well known for its inspiring vistas, interesting geology and diverse range of flora and fauna, is getting a new place to inspire residents and visitors to learn about the region’s unique natural beauty, and then get outside to experience it for themselves.

The Los Alamos Nature Center is a public-private partnership between Los Alamos County and the Pajarito Environmental Education Center, which will operate the center. The $4.3 million facility, located near the Los Alamos Aquatic Center, includes a planetarium. Klinger Constructors of Albuquerque was chosen as the contractor to work on the project. Santa Fe-based exhibit design firm Merriell and Associates is designing the exhibits. The center is going up quickly and is on track to open on Earth Day, April 22, 2015. For more information or to support the center’s fundraising, visit www.PajaritoEEC.org/TakeWing.


Augustín Plains Water Mining Case Update
Millions of dollars and the future of New Mexico’s public water are at stake.”


On Sept. 22, a retired couple from western New Mexico asked the state Supreme Court to order the State Engineer to dismiss a massive speculative water appropriation application from Augustín Plains Ranch, LLC (APR), which is owned by an Italian billionaire. In their petition, filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), Ray and Carol Pittman state that a second application filed by APR this summer is “identical in all material respects” to the application APR filed in 2007, which the Pittmans, along with 80 neighbors, persuaded the State Engineer and a District Court to deny after five years of litigation.


The 2014 application, a $600 million proposal to drill 37 wells and pipe billions of gallons, fails to indicate exactly where the water from an aquifer that underlies the San Augustín Plains will be used, as required by the state Constitution. “By keeping the intended use vague,” said NMELC attorney Bruce Frederick, “the Ranch hopes to speculate in future water markets and ultimately sell to whoever the highest bidders may be in seven counties.”


The Pittmans’ efforts come in response to legal maneuvering undertaken by APR and the State Engineer this summer. APR filed its “new” application a few weeks before the parties were scheduled to present oral argument to the Court of Appeals. “I hope the Supreme Court will step in and stop this scheme once and for all, not only for the people of west-central New Mexico, but for the people in our state’s other rural communities. Because this is going to be a big problem for them too if the State Engineer opens the door to water grabs,” said petitioner Carol Pittman.



Building Creative Communities Conference Nov. 1214 in Santa Fe

New Mexico MainStreet, NM Department of Cultural Affairs Historic Preservation Division, NM Arts, and NM Tourism Department have invited community builders throughout the state to participate in the inaugural Building Creative Communities Conference. The training, educational and networking event at the La Fonda Hotel will bring together practitioners in diverse fields of community building such as arts, culture and redevelopment to help promote commercial-district revitalization, heritage tourism and preservation.

Nationally recognized keynote speakers will discuss the themes: Build Upon Our History; Build Alliances with Each Other; Build Our Economy and Sustain Our Culture. They will be joined by more than 35 other area specialists from New Mexico and beyond through a variety of sessions and activities over the three days.

This pioneering conference represents a great interdisciplinary effort to explore and encourage our creative economy,” said Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela. For more information and to register, visit www.buildingcreativecommunities.org


Academy of Sustainability Education Launched at Santa Fe High

A new career technical program called the Academy of Sustainability Education has opened at the south campus of Santa Fe High School. The program’s director is Dana Richards. More than 160 students signed up and began pre-building construction classes in the spring.

Motivated by the need for more young people to be trained in green building and trades essential to the industry, the Project-Based Learning program is receiving support from the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. To augment the faculty of about a dozen teachers, the SFAHBA has invited its members and partners with knowledge and expertise to fill volunteer positions both on- and off-campus in areas such as woodworking, homebuilding, green trades, water harvesting, horticulture, hydroponics, landscaping, solar installation, sound studios, and public policy on sustainability issues. For more information, contact LeeAnn Archuleta at learchuletea@sfps.info.


El Valle Women’s Collaborative Wins Torchlight Prize

Ribera, New Mexicobased grassroots organization El Valle Women’s Collaborative has been selected as a winner of the 2014 Torchlight Prize(www.torchlightprize.org), a $10,000 award honoring self-organized groups that have taken the initiative to strengthen their community.


The Collaborative began when a group of women from the Pecos River Valley came together to find ways to support one another. They established a thrift store with a pay-what-you-can model to ensure that everyone had access to the store’s offerings. The group now sends its overstock to support nonprofit organizations in larger communities. It has partnered with other groups to teach women sewing and business skills for entrepreneurship, and created a community garden, as well as youth farm-to-market programs.

The prize is sponsored by the Family Independence Initiative, an Oakland, California-based national nonprofit that supports initiatives that low-income families take to improve their own lives, build resilience and increase self-determination in their communities. “The Torchlight Prize puts a spotlight on the power of collective action,” said Mia Birdsong, vice president of the Initiative. “Prize winners don’t wait for policy-makers, service agencies, or philanthropy; they work together, pool resources and make their own change.”


Rural Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy Trainings

Programs for businesses, farms and ranches


As part of an initiative to strengthen the country’s economy, small towns and rural communities, USDA Rural Development is hosting free workshops to help farmers, ranchers and the rural small business owners obtain loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects. Twelve workshops will be held across the state of New Mexico through Nov. 12.


The financial support offered is not for home use. The Rural Energy for America Program’s (REAP) loan guarantees require matching funding. The program offers a 25 percent grant to purchase and install alternative energy systems such as solar panels. Other applicable renewable energy systems include biofuels, wind, geothermal, hydrogen-based projects and anaerobic digesters. Energy efficiency projects include but are not limited to changing-out inefficient pumps, insulation, roofing, lighting, heating and cooling systems for more efficient ones.


For more information, call 505.761.4957 or email kim.giang@nm.usda.gov



PNM Solar Energy Proposal Filed


An agreement was filed with state regulators on Sept. 25 that, if approved, would allow New Mexico’s largest electric provider to build 40 megawatts of new solar next year, a $79 million investment in green energy, according to PNM. By 2016, the utility says it will have enough solar power to serve 40,000 average homes.


The N.M. Public Regulation Commission staff, the N.M. Attorney General, the N.M Industrial Energy Consumers, Western Resource Advocates and the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy signed the agreement, which calls for the company to build four 10-megawatt solar centers in 2015. PNM currently has eight operating solar centers plus three more under construction in Valencia, Cibola and Sandoval counties. The utility also uses some wind-generated power and will add more wind power from the Red Mesa Wind Energy Center starting Jan. 1, 2015.


The additional 40 megawatts of solar, which PNM identified as a cost-effective resource, is part of the utility’s 2015-2016 plan, filed in June, to meet a state requirement that its renewable energy portfolio equal 15 percent of the energy sourced.


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