Ready or not, here we come! Women on the land.
Posted on March 29, 2013

Women own or run thirty five percent of all small farms in the United States. According to the USDA, this number is projected to increase to sixty percent in the next twenty-five years. It makes sense:  As food supplies dwindle, as food increases in price as the food quality becomes questionable, women will grow food. The “ Green Revolution” to save the world from hunger by using expensive mechanical and chemical solutions requiring high quantities of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, fuel and machinery to till, huge amounts of water and GMO seeds has failed. These practices have polluted the depleted water supply into the ocean, scarred the land and stressed the farmer to an early death leaving widows across our land.

The Carbon Economy Series wants to empower women and those who love them to successfully work with the land. This 2-day training will use regenerative agriculture principles so that fertility increases, nutritious food is produced, jobs and income revitalize families, food security and sovereignty is accomplished and systems are put in place for a more sustainable New Mexico. The workshop will be taught by a select group of women that bring their local expertise in holistic land management, planning, designing, farming, ranching, gardening, youth integral education, value added farming, grassland restoration, Northern New Mexico agricultural production, production cottage industry and much more.

Dr Ann Adams, a student of Allan Savory, teaches all over the world practices that restore vast grasslands—habitat to multitude of species—thus facilitating a tremendous amount of carbon sequestration helping stabilize climate change. She teaches individuals, families and businesses how to create holistic goals while designing food production systems that meet the triple bottom line: what is good for the planet, good for the people and good for profit. It is important to create a desirable lifestyle that provides good stewardship and uses sound ecological practices so that food is healthy and family farms continue to exist.

Patricia Pantano, a farmer/educator and co founder of Camino De Paz School and Farm will host us in Santa Cruz. We will travel to the site, be fed an organic meal and we will get to know the integrated farm more intimately. We will learn what it takes to sell at the Santa Fe Farmers Market and how to get young people involved. Her farm as a middle school engages and instructs youth in organic, agricultural food production, harvesting crops, creating products for sale and marketing to Santa Fe. The school provides knowledge, experiential learning and real life skill building that prepare youth for a successful and meaningful life.

Laurie Bowman and Nancy Ranney are the Director and President of the Southwest Grass-fed Livestock Alliance (SWGLA) representing producers, consumers, land managers, conservationists, and researchers. The organization seeks to improve human, ecological and animal health, and strengthen local agricultural communities by educating producers and the public about grass-fed livestock products. Their presentation will cover:

  • The benefits of grass-fed to humans, animals and the planet
  • Benefits (and challenges) of being a grass-fed producer
  • Marketing and sale options (including types of certifications, livestock types and wholesale vs. direct markets)
  • Production options
  • Holistic planning and land management: principles and success stories
  • Women involved in the grass-fed movement: more success stories
  • Cooking tips and recipes (including possibly an overview of types of cuts, processing & slaughter, purchasing "on the hoof" etc.)

The Tesuque Pueblo has a long history of auto determination, self reliance, food production, hunting, art, farming and the offering to the divine for their blessings with traditional songs, dances and feasts. They have worked with seeds for millennia selecting, planting and blending characteristics that make crops hearty to withstand the extremes of this land of enchantment. Serena Hena, a gardener, a mother and a pueblo elder will host us in Tesuque for the afternoon. Sharing ancient knowledge, common practices and communal principles we will work side by side with Serena. A tasty, traditional meal will drive the points home as we are invited to see the patterns that shaped an entire civilization that has survived for thousands of years. In contrast to our present civilization which may perish in the next few hundred years particularly if we do not move swiftly. Sometimes to move forward we may have to look to the past and relearn what has been forgotten.

Women farmers, ranchers, gardeners and all those who love them will meet at the Santa Fe Community College to train with these marvelous speakers on April 12,13,14. Friday night form 7-9 pm, cost $10. Intensive workshop on Saturday or Sunday $175 per day or all three events for $300. Discounts, student/senior rates, interns, work trades, and time dollars are accepted. Join us and spread the word. For more information call (505) 819-3828 or go to our web site:

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Food: It’s a Real Education
Posted on March 19, 2013

By Patricia Pantano for  Tumbleweeds Magazine Dec., 2010

Food. Who can live without it? It is said that civilization has its roots in food production. The development of writing, law, geometry, mathematics and science accompanied the growth of towns built around ancient agricultural centers. Today, agriculture remains a potent cultural force and learning tool.

At Camino de Paz School and Farm, a Montessori program for grades 6 to 9 in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, food plays a central role in the curriculum. Greenhouses, pastures, gardens, sheep, goats, chickens and horses provide the context in which the students apply their skills as mathematicians, writers, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and citizens of the community. The food they raise with the help of farm interns is eaten by the students and their families, sold at the Santa Fe Farmers Market and distributed through a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture), and what is left is preserved and stored.

In the first months of the school year, as winter approaches and the last tomatoes, corn and onions are harvested, it would seem that the farm is winding down. But our need for food never diminishes, and with the rhythm of the seasons, the farm-related work continues.

One of our most time-consuming tasks is drying, shucking and grinding the blue corn crop. The students calculated that 40 percent of the weight of the harvest will result in usable kernels, which are ground into corn meal. “Everything we do has a mini-lesson built into it,” says Desirae Orr, an eighth-grade girl.

Thanks to a system of hoop houses, the students grow food throughout the winter. A hoop house, basically a small greenhouse, is built with rebar, PVC piping and plastic sheeting. The vegetable beds are covered with a row cover, resting on short wire hoops. In the morning the hoop house doors are opened and the row cover is pulled back, exposing the plants to sunlight. In the afternoon the row cover is replaced and the doors are closed, allowing the heat from the soil to warm the plants. We grow lettuces, spinach, arugula, chard and other leafy greens this way. The students help plant the seeds in the starting trays, keep them watered and transplant them into the beds. They record the number of plants seeded and diagram each bed to determine crop rotation in the next planting cycle.

One math class is projecting the harvest based on the square footage of planted beds, to gauge market sales. “It makes me feel as if we’re doing something actually meaningful with math,” comments Desirae. “We can say, ‘This is the problem we solved, and these were the steps we took to get to this conclusion.’”

Another ongoing weekly task involves using the goat milk to make cheese and soap. Every day the goats are milked and production is recorded. Milk that is not consumed right away is made into cheese or pasteurized and frozen to make goat-milk soap. These activities combine math, measurement and chemistry. Since the soap is sold at farmers market, there is also a good bit of business acumen involved, recording inventory and determining which soaps sell best. According to seventh grader Olivia Jones, “These are actual, real jobs. They could even be used to help us start a career someday!” 

Although the hens’ egg production diminishes somewhat in the winter, there are still eggs to gather, clean and put into cartons for sale at market. The students responsible for this job also graph egg totals and calculate egg sales.

Teacher Bridget Love believes that these activities around food “help us all understand the costs of food production and see more clearly the choices we make as consumers.” It also brings home the fact that a significant way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to eat locally.

The sheep provide the students with wool, so there are unlimited opportunities to use it. After it is washed, dried and carded, they use the “bats” to make felt and fashion it into objects such as bags, hats, potholders and rugs. Some wool is sent away to be spun. Using plants grown on the farm, the wool is dyed in shades of brown, yellow and green; other natural dyes like cochineal, indigo or madder result in blues, reds, oranges and purples. These yarns are woven, knitted or crocheted into items also sold at the farmers’ market booth.  

Caring for the sheep, horses, goats and chickens seems to engage the students in an exceptional way. “You learn that each animal has its own particular needs,” observes eighth-grader Tui Perrin.

The birth of lambs and kids in February is a source of joy and wonder. The students begin preparations by assembling a kit with towels, mats, gloves and iodine. When a pregnant doe is showing signs of labor, they watch and wait patiently in case their assistance is needed. If necessary, one or two students at a time will help the newborns get clean and dried and make sure they have a chance to suckle within the first hour of birth. “I used to have this idea of separation: people – animals. Now I feel closer to animals and more connected to life,” says Olivia. “It’s a really great life experience,” adds Sasha Baca. “We might want to raise our own animals some day.”

A particularly powerful activity is the harvesting of chickens and an occasional lamb or goat. Taking the life of another creature is no small undertaking and as a culture we are far removed from this responsibility. The meat we eat generally comes neatly wrapped in plastic, ready to pop into the pan or oven. Yet the connection is an important, if not primal, one. It also becomes a living history lesson.

The students are involved in animal harvesting only by choice. The process begins with a ceremony that honors the animal and expresses gratitude for its giving its life. Once the animal is killed the work of gutting and cleaning begins. In discussing this rather unusual aspect to the curriculum, the students have no shortage of things to say.

“I think it’s really interesting,” says sixth grader Reyes Mason Muller. “It was amazing to see what was inside the animal, how the organs work, how it breathes, its reflexes … everything.”

“I can’t handle the actual killing,” admits Mahalia Bohsali, “but I don’t mind helping to gut it. It’s a good thing to learn where food comes from – the old fashioned way, not in a factory – and if more people had to do it, there’d be more vegetarians.”

“It really raises your awareness of death,” adds Sarah Gonzales. “Animals die for us every day so we can have food, but we usually don’t think about it.”

“Yes,” remarks Ben Hanna, “it shows the imbalance between the number of animals killed by people and the number of people killed by animals.”

Early adolescence is a critical time for establishing identity, building self-esteem and exploring social and economic life through achievement that is real and meaningful. The richness of a food-centered environment and its related activities compel students to practice cooperation, critical thinking, problem-solving and ethics on a daily basis and to learn from their mistakes. Desirae sums it up like this: “This is so much more than learning from a book. I feel more knowledgeable in general, more well-rounded and more tolerant. We learn how to do a job well and, if it’s unpleasant, it raises our level of resilience. I feel a lot happier!”


Because of significant biological and neurological changes, early adolescence is a time during which the teen is open to a rich variety of influences.   The intense interaction with animals, plants, adult mentors and peers that the farm work requires calls the students to not only apply math, science and language skills, but also to take responsibility, exercise judgment, make value-based choices and practice social skills.   It is also fertile ground for meaningful dialogue to process these experiences:

“How are we going to get these sheep to pasture?  Who leads?  Who herds?”

“When you fool around during feeding time, I’m left to do the job by myself.”

“I really appreciate how you showed me how to milk faster.”

“How can we take such good care of an animal and then kill it?”

“How can we not honor an animal who has given its life for us to have meat by NOT eating it?”

These interactions that result from their work go beyond our expectations of what teens are capable of and build community among the teens at a time when their whole being is focused on “Where do I fit in?  What are my skills and talents?  How am I of value in the community?”  The activities of a farm allow them to explore answers to these questions.  In fact,

the result is a striking self-confidence manifested when students give tours,  engage the customers at the Farmers Market booth or speak at conferences.  

Patty Pantano is …

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Permaculture is not gardening
Posted on March 3, 2013

Instant culture or Permaculture? Permaculture is not gardening.

It is clear what culture we've chosen as an industrialist nation of the West. Instant, like now, like no kidding, like KD Lang sings "I want it all" right now dammit. Another demand is it has to be cheap. Such cheapness that it becomes disposable, but is it really? The other side of disposable is garbage, we are drowning in garbage, which we have addressed in the last Carbon Economy Series workshop on Zero Wast. To give an example a tool like a spade had value, it was made with high quality materials crafted to last and passed on to our children. That no longer exists, instead, we will buy a dozen spades in our life time that break and end up in our ever increasing land fills. We are energy hogs here in the United States and we have completely lost touch of natural cycles, natural laws and systems of life. Petroleum and dynamite have corrupted our vision, our power of observation, our reflection and our interaction with nature and the web of life. We are blown out of scale when it comes to living sustainably on our earth today. This energy addiction to non renewable energy has polluted our home, exploited our people and altered our climate.

What would you rather have, instant culture or permanent culture? The contraction of these two words is what was coined as Permaculture design by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren who traveled the world looking at the relationship of humans with their environment and noted the principles of those that were more successful and sustainable through time and space. Perhaps you've heard the word before or maybe not. Permaculture is not gardening. Permaculture design uses gardens as a design feature and uses gardens as a demonstration of the design principles that govern this ethical based system. The ethics of Permaculture design are simple: love people, love the planet and use all our skills and effort to do the first two well so that there is yield for future generations. In other words, a way of living that seamlessly integrates humans into the natural cycle of life in such a way that perpetuate life by mimicking nature, creating more with less and working smarter rather harder. Each action is informed by long, sustained, hard observation of what is there and shaped by an inventory of resources and needs that are at the core of design. Very different from the instant culture that we live in. The huge energy available from petroleum and dynamite have allowed us to move beyond time and space at such an accelerated rate that it has us believe and that we, as a unique species, do not have to follow natural laws or natural patterns. In fact, it has created an arrogance and a feeling of superiority over nature and each other such that we are hurling ourselves towards extinction. In the name of progress and science we have polluted, contaminated the waterways and oceans, we have changed face of the planet, exploited natural mineral deposits and created a consumer based society that cannot be sustained nor can it be exported, yet it is, at the peril of thousands of species including our own.

Permaculture is a sustainable design science rooted in observation of nature and providing solutions to some of our most pressing problems.  The same branching pattern that's found in tree is also found in a river, in your heart, and numerous other places.  That pattern maximizes edge (surface area for exchanging information or nutrients), increases diversity and serves a whole range of other functions. The very concepts of diversity increasing stability of natural living systems and edge increasing diversity are core permaculture teachings. A common example of biomimicry is velcro, which was invented by an engineer who removed burrs from his dog, and noticed how the small hooks on the burr grabbed to his dog's fur.  Another great example is better packaging designs.  Have you ever considered how nature packages orange juice inside an orange?  Permaculture design has us look for multiple solutions to one problem and find one element to provide more than one function, in addition to doing more with less and using problems as the solutions. This way of designing requires less inputs for more yield and decrease our need for energy allowing biological solutions instead of man made chemical ones and using simple common sense before implementing high tech solutions.

Learn the basics of Permaculture design isn a fun setting, learn the core values, how to apply natural patterns and keep on track by looking at the  indicators of sustainability.  Bring your own home, business  or community as a site to apply what you have learned during class.  Walk out with an initial master plan for sustainability of  your very own site with expert peer review. Permaculture Boot Camp March 15, 2013 at 7-9pm cost $10, Saturday and Sunday March16,17 2013 from 9:30- 4:00 pm, cost $175 for each or $300 for all three events at the SFCC in the Jemez room. Look us up or for mare information call 505 819-3828.


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Gary Liss is talking trash—again!
Posted on January 30, 2013

Garbage is man made and stems from a design flaw.  There are no dumps or incinerators in nature.  The waste of one species becomes food or habitat for another species.  It is not only ugly, hazardous smelly and unsightly but it is costly to the environment, the people and the bottom line.  One job at the landfill translates into four jobs when the same waste is recycled, 16 jobs if it is reused and over 270 jobs if what we call “waste” is redesigned. Transforming garbage into a sizeable revenue stream.


Local governments around the world are embracing Zero Waste as a key tool for them to meet their goals for addressing climate change.  The Zero Waste International Alliance has developed a list of these communities.  Over two-thirds of New Zealand communities have adopted Zero Waste as a goal, and New Zealand is the first country on earth to have adopted Zero Waste as a goal nationally.  Large urban communities and small rural communities alike have adopted Zero Waste as a goal and are working to achieve that goal.

In the United States, California was the first State to adopt Zero Waste as 1 of 8 goals in the 2001 Strategic Plan of the CA Integrated Waste Management Board. As a result of that strong state support, over 20 communities in California have adopted Zero Waste as a goal, and most of them are working to develop and implement plans to reach that goal.

The links between Zero Waste and climate change are significant.  Solid wastes that are buried in landfills create methane gas in the anaerobic conditions of the landfill.  Methane gas is 21 times as potent as carbon dioxide in changing the planet’s climate.  And for every ton of waste that reaches municipal landfills, 71 tons have been created “upstream” from mining, manufacturing and distribution of wastes.  Using the USEPA WARM Model to calculate the effect of recycling and composting all the materials currently discarded in California, the CRRA Recyclers Global Warming Council calculated that it would be the equivalent of taking all the cars off the road in California.

Therefore, it’s key to climate change to keep all organics out of landfills.  In fact, Zero Waste or dramatically increased local waste reduction efforts is one of the single most effective ways that local government can immediately address climate change.

There are many “Cool Cities”, “Green Cities” and Sustainability programs developing now for local governments to participate in.  Over 900 communities worldwide are part of the ICLEI network of Local Governments for Sustainability.  ICLEI in the United States is working with over 400 communities to address their solid waste issues as part of their sustainability planning.  However, the only local sustainability program that has adopted Zero Waste as a goal so far is the United Nations Sponsored Urban Environmental Accords, which have been adopted by over 100 cities worldwide.

ZERI trained System Designer Gary Liss & Associates (GLA) is working with many communities to develop plans for Zero Waste. In developing these Zero Waste plans:

  • GLA encourages communities to use the Zero Waste International Alliance definition of Zero Waste:

“Zero Waste is a goal that is both pragmatic and visionary, to guide people to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are resources for others to use.  Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.  Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that may be a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

  • GLA performs a Service Opportunity Analysis review of existing system to identify opportunities for new services that will be needed to reduce, reuse, recycle or compost discarded materials
  • GLA develops a Menu of Policy and Program Options and identifies facilities needed to achieve Zero Waste.  Communities can significantly change what is “economic” in the local marketplace with policies such as: changes in rate structures; changes in compensation, fees, and taxes for waste handlers; zoning overlays for reuse and recycling businesses; permit requirements; conditions of land use permits; and many other legal tools.  GLA also works in structuring contracts to make the avoided costs of solid waste collection and disposal a key engine for change in the community.  All the funding needed to achieve Zero Waste is already being paid out for wasting, and plans are used to shift those resources to Zero Waste.
  • GLA works with the community to involve all aspects of the public in developing ideas for what is needed to move forward to Zero Waste.  Public participation processes have included Zero Waste Task Forces, public meetings, focus groups, individual interviews with stakeholders, house parties, residential and business surveys, service provider surveys, and media outreach.  In Los Angeles and Austin, GLA has helped issue a Zero Waste Challenge to ask everyone to work immediately at home, school, work or their house of worship to adopt Zero Waste as a goal, and begin working on that goal.   This generates its own creative energy that encourages everyone in the community to get involved.
  • GLA works with the community then to establish short-term and long-term Zero Waste goals and a timetable to achieve those goals, usually timed to coincide with the end of existing contracts or life of existing facilities, so that the goals leverage real-world issues in the community to support this significant change.

Samples of Zero Waste Community Plans include the Palo Alto Zero Waste Strategic Plan and the Oakland Zero Waste Strategic Plan.  GLA highlights that communities only need as large a plan as required to get their elected officials to approve the program, policies and budget to move forward. The Santa Fe No More Garbage: ZERO Waste workshop with Gary Liss will take place at the SFCC at the Jemez room on Thursday night February 21, 7-9 pm and all day Friday, February 22 9:30 am-4:30 pm. Cost is $250 (20% discount for buddy pass/family pass). For more information or to register, go to or call 505-819-3828 or 505-913-2877. Please note that the schedule is subject to change.

In North America, ZERI trained System Designer Gary Liss & Associates has worked or is working with the following communities to develop plans for Zero Waste:


  • Burbank
  • Culver City
  • Del Norte County
  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • Palo Alto
  • San Jose

Other United States

  • Albuquerque, NM (selected)
  • Austin, TX 
  • Carroll County, MD
  • Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District
  • New York City (reviewed Citizens Zero Waste Plan)
  • Telluride, CO

Other North America

  • Nelson, British Columbia

For a full list of Communities around the world that have adopted Zero Waste as a goal, go to:


Written by Gary Liss with collaboration from Iginia Boccalandro

Posted on December 12, 2012

Sustainable tourism and sustainable development is a theme in Santa Fe that is extremely pertinent.   Mayor Coss and Dr. Ortego, former President of SFCC, discussed the need for our city to look at the principles of sustainable tourism last year.  Crucial to this understanding is the importance of following the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.  Guiding an industry based on how it impacts people, the environment and the revenue stream creates a better world that is more sustainable.   When people visit New Mexico they have a chance to learn, experience and participate in this unique and rich milieu.

We depend on tourism as an industry and the way we address this powerful economic force can make all the difference.  Santa Fe is a showcase for many things including art, culture and progressive ideas, some of which are sustainable living and local, organic food production.   The Santa Fe Farmer’s market is a perfect example of collaboration between farmers, businesses, the city and non profits teaming up to produce a weekly cornucopia of fresh food and Santa Fe’s primo social hot spot.

Tourism fluctuates between high season and low season making it hard to keep employees and income during the low season.  So what can we do during the low season that could have aggregate value in the long run?  In addition, how can we improve finances by reducing waste, increasing efficiency, reducing the amount of inputs and increasing yield?  Eco tourism touches on the idea that we must reduce the negative impact of the visitor on the place visited.  This perspective is attractive to youth all over the world and a place of unity amongst world citizens.  It is only the beginning and we must go beyond eco tourism to sustainable tourism.

It is for this reason that when an industry like tourism commits to ZERO waste the impact is enormous.  Like ants or even bees, critters we love, tourists come and go to Santa Fe  by the millions cross pollinating  ideas, customs and initiatives.   Creating a dynamic synthesis of traditions and the possibility for innovation and creativity is one of the benefits.

Tourism in itself offers a series of challenges and opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint.   These opportunities can be explored in Santa Fe with the Carbon Economy Series on January 11,12,14 2013 at Santa Fe Community College.  Maria Boccalandro PhD and Daniel Mirabal from Arete Consulting Group will address the challenges in the intensive Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Development workshop.  Look at our web page for more information or call 505 819-3828

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