November 2015

Gardens de Atrisco

Joseph C. García


The Gardens de Atrisco, a project of the town of Atrisco Grant, is part of the community momentum that is reclaiming urban and semi-rural lands in Atrisco for healing, education, growing food and saving seed.


Jesse Anzures, who serves on the town of Atrisco Board of Trustees, and Victor Versace, of the Desert Forge Foundation, share the garden space with veterans for healing and creating community wealth through the growing of chile, corn, tomatoes, mint, garlic and basil. Working the land in the traditional way, communities were able to create their own wealth and livelihood. It is good news that the town is currently creating wealth and opportunity through these gardens.


There is a beautiful quote on the Desert Forge Foundation website ( “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks…neither shall they war anymore.” –Isaiah 2:4. Other favorite quotes that have inspired Atrisco gardeners: “La Agua es La Vida” and one from Mahatma Gandhi: “To forget how to dig the Earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.


Many varieties of chile have been grown in the garden. In September and October, chile pods from Chimayó, Jémez and Atrisco were harvested daily. Jesse Anzures says, “We have been successful in building the soil and harvesting food and look forward to planning for next season.”


The Gardens de Atrisco are pesticide free. There is an emphasis on educating young people about the value of New Mexico agriculture, our acequias and the creation of a more socially just, abundant and fertile Atrisco Valley. Students from local high schools, UNM and University of Miami (Alternative Spring Break) have volunteered at the Gardens since it started a few years ago.


Town of Atrisco Board of Trustees President Jerome Padilla, Secretary Theresa Gonzáles and Trustee Jaime Chávez have also continued to work in support of the Gardens de Atrisco as a way to build community wealth and of course to pass on the great tradition of growing New Mexico chile.



Joseph C. García, M.A., is a community capacity builder with the UNM Community Engagement Center. He is also director of garden education at La Plazita Institute.




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