A seed exchange and garden blessing marked the beginning of the growing season in Taos and brought together the collaborative efforts of musician Robert Mirabal’s Tiwa Farms and Micah Roseberry’s Farmhouse Café and Bakery. Mirabal brought his native seed collection to share and, after plowing the Farmhouse garden, played an “Iron Horse” concert with Robby Romero. Proceeds from the concert and a farm-to-table dinner benefitted the café’s organic school lunch program, Tiwa Farms and an outdoor garden for the Taos Pueblo Head Start program.
Tiwa Farms is helping get more Taos Pueblo fields back into production, supporting farmers’ efforts to grow healthy food for the pueblo’s families and schools. Mirabal plowed 50 fields last spring. Tiwa Farms provides the Farmhouse Café with custom-ground corn meal and blue popcorn.
Besides providing high-quality organic local cuisine to diners, the Farmhouse Café and Bakery supports local farmers and is helping build a local farming network. The Farmhouse has sourced its ingredients from over 20 local farms and ranches. Thus far, the café has purchased 10,000 pounds of organic flour from the Costilla-based Sangre de Cristo Wheat Project, 4,000 gallons of organic oil, 8,000 pounds of locally grown Yukon gold potatoes from White Mountain Farm, 12,000 organic eggs from locally owned Happy Hens Farm and 600 pounds of biodynamic salad greens from Morningstar Farm. Other local sources include Sangre de Cristo wheat, corn meal from Santa Ana Pueblo and Mary’s Organic Chicken. Local carrots, potatoes, cabbage and salad greens are also supplied by Cerro Vista Farm. Sweet Grass Beef and products made from Organic Valley milk and butter are also used.
The café’s garden has produced Taos blue corn, quinoa, ancient wheat, black Nile barley and over 500 pounds of squash, which provided the café with roasted squash soup and curry squash pie throughout the winter.
The Farmhouse Café and Bakery started as a local organic farm-to-table café but quickly became a point of convergence for many community projects. Last August, the café began serving 90 organic breakfasts and lunches to UNM’s Kid’s Campus and the Little Bug Preschool. Roseberry uses the café’s infrastructure to subsidize the production of high-quality meals for the students. Student field trips and visits to the Farmhouse range from garden harvest activities and picnics to a monthly cooking day with Inspire Bilingual Preschool and evening family cooking classes featuring five-star dinners. Local food is always at the center. Pinto beans from Vicente Valdez’s farm are an example of a healthy food that costs only 14 cents per serving. Last fall, Roseberry packed up her solar oven and visited Taos Elementary Garden and UNM Kid’s Campus and helped students plant, harvest and make kale chips from their school’s garden.
As this school year is coming to a close, plans are underway to quadruple the number of meals per day, add several new schools to the fall lunch program and include weekly activities that connect the students to their food with gardening and cooking. In collaboration with the Taos Village Farm, Roseberry established a UNM Teaching Farm last fall that will be the site of a Community School Farm project. UNM Sustainable Farming student mentors, high school students and preschool groups will work together to grow grains and vegetables in a field and salad greens year-round in a high-tunnel greenhouse.
This summer the Farmhouse garden is hosting a 40-member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project that includes a “share-a-share” program for low-income families. Roseberry will share her own 12 years of CSA experience with beginning farmers in a Young Farmers Coalition to help grow the potential production capabilities in Taos County. Her goal is a CSA in every neighborhood. Coincidentally, one of her coalition partners, Sam Gregory, is growing on a farm at New Buffalo in Arroyo Hondo, that was the home of the Sustainable Native Agriculture Project in the 1980s that originally drew Roseberry to the Taos area.
Upcoming Sustainable Farming Workshop
Roseberry has been teaching UNM-Taos’ Sustainable Farming classes for the last two semesters. She is also presenting a UNM Sustainable Farming workshop from July 6 through July 10. The workshop will focus on growing quinoa and small grains, creating a successful CSA, beekeeping, harvesting and marketing, planting and storing vegetables for winter storage, making goat cheese, using biodynamic preparations, growing hops and much more.
For anyone interested in experiencing the culture in agriculture, Robert Mirabal will be kicking off a summer series, “Mirabal and Friends,” by playing another benefit dinner concert at the Farmhouse Café and Bakery on Saturday, May 9. The café is located at 1405 Paseo del Norte in El Prado, three miles north of Taos Plaza. For more information, call 575.758.LOVE or visit farmhousecafeandbakery.com