Minor Morgan has promoted organic farming for decades. And since the early 1990s, Morgan, executive director of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Community Farm, has been working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a farming process that is economically and environmentally sustainable. Through its innovative use of well and surface water to support a certified organic drip irrigation system year-round, the Rio Grande Community Farm stands alone in the state as a model for sustainable farming.
The 16-acre farm operates as a certified organic drip irrigation vegetable operation—one of only five such operations nationally. The farm has been enrolled in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program for more than 10 years.
Rio Grande Community Farm uses resource conservation practices such as no-tillage; planting crops year-round to reduce soil runoff; rotating crops annually to help replenish nutrients and micro-organisms that build stronger soil systems; and irrigation water management, a technique that optimizes plant water use.
According to Morgan, much of the food produced in America today contains lower levels of nutritional value that products grown on the Rio Grande Community Farm. The difference is what Morgan calls “nutritional density.” Healthier soil leads to crops that have higher vitamin and nutrient content.
Much of the food produced at the Rio Grande Community Farm is sold to the local school system. In addition, through a partnership with the local branch of the non-profit Meals-on-Wheels, fresh organic produce is delivered daily to local senior citizens and other groups in need.
In partnership with NRCS and New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service, the farm has also developed some unique cover crop blends designed specifically for the arid Southwest climate and soils.
Rio Grande Community Farm provides a demonstration of conservation practices for both the seasoned farmer and the curious visitor. NRCS New Mexico, along with New Mexico State Extension Service and New Mexico Soil and Water Conservation Districts, provide the technical expertise to create models such as the Rio Grande Community Farm.
Read more about the EQIP organic initiative.
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