Growing the Local Food System
La Montañita Fund and Nolina’s Heavenly Organics
By Nolina Bryant
I wish to express my gratitude to the La Montañita FUND loan for my farm. Thanks to the loan I could manage the cash flow to accomplish the project. Voila! Half an acre in cover crop and a giant greenhouse filled with greens.
The intent was to add half an acre to the petite organic artisan farm. Mission accomplished! And, the two-year loan payments are on the downhill slope.
The project consisted of renting an excavator (lots of fun! I called it “the claw”) to remove the salt cedar and brush, hauling it off, hiring a tractor to move the dirt around and level it, renting a trencher to run underground irrigation to the field, installing a drip irrigation system, planting cover crop, tilling it in, planting cover crop, tilling it in, and planting cover crop again. The once paltry dirt is looking more and more like dark rich soil! Now that’s the stuff of life. We spoil our soil and it spoils us back!
The second part of the two-year project was to build a Seasonal High Tunnel or SHT. We aren’t too keen on that acronym, so we call it the Giant Greenhouse and renamed her Gigi. We built her 30’ by 72’ frame in October of 2013 and finished in November; it was a big job. We had to wait a bit to get the cover on due to the winds; so what’s new in New Mexico, eh?! Then, trench and run a water line (since it was in a different spot than originally planned, so we missed it on the first trench) and move compost inside to create soil. Fortunately, there was an old pile from 2009; thanks Mother Nature.
Next we created raised beds, laid t-tape for drip irrigation, planted seeds in January and February, and then crossed our fingers. It worked! In February the weather was bi-polar as usual with a high of 79 and a low of 14. Many of the seeds, cool weather crops, simply hung out and then grew when the weather suited them.
So Gigi is now a marvel; in March she was filled with tasty greenery! And beginning in April the loan payments are now made with La Montañita produce sales income— how cool is that?!
My first delivery to La Montañita was April 3rd. Some feedback from the produce departments:
- From Ro, Produce manager, Rio Grande:
“Your produce is AMAZING!!!! It all looked super nice Nolina!!!”
- From Amanda, Produce Manger, Nob Hill:
“I saw some of your produce at the Valley store and it is indeed beautiful. Thanks so much for bringing it to the Hill! You do great work— your produce IS just beautiful.”
The LAM FUND allowed the necessary cash flow to manage the project and achieve these results. Thank you for conceptualizing and implementing the program. Thanks to all the members who invest, and thank you for allowing me to participate.