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Monday, April 11, 2011

Let It Grow! Gardening at 7200 Feet

We live in Mora County, which, like many counties in the rural southwestern United States, has been characterized as a food desert. I knew about urban food deserts, areas lacking markets and stores where someone is able to buy healthy, inexpensive food. There may be liquor stores or fast food places in these neighborhoods, but it's hard to find nutritious ingredients to make a meal. I was surprised to learn from the Center for Rural Affairs that 98 percent of food deserts are rural.

I knew when we moved here that hopping into the car to pick up a few items at the supermarket a mile away was not an option. The closest store is a small market 25 minutes away. Prices are high and selection is limited. Produce is fresh if you get there on the day it is delivered. It's a basic store, like what you might find near a campground. A larger selection of food can be found in Taos or Las Vegas, an hour away, where you can find Super Wal-Mart and Albertson's. Two hours away is Santa Fe, where we shop every couple of months at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. We go shopping crazy at Trader Joe's and I spend way too much time in Whole Foods. It's like we're on a field trip to a food museum after months shopping at Wal-Mart. I gawk at the prepared foods department, the fish man, and the meat counter.  I don't buy much at Whole Foods but have a great time nonetheless.

People here spend summers canning fruits and vegetables they pick up from roadside vendors who drive in from Colorado and Texas. A few weeks ago a produce truck overturned on the highway at night. Word got around and next thing you knew a crowd of local residents were in the dark, gathering the spilled veggies. I got some bell peppers and tomatoes from a friend and another lady canned salsa out of the tomatillos she had gleaned from the spill.

Last year I attempted to grow some veggies. I didn't have time to actually dig up a garden, so I planted in soil bags and Earth Boxes.
I grew cabbage in potting soil bags and each of these plants made one softball sized cabbage. Pitiful! I chose short season, cold weather tomato plants and had mixed results there, too. The growing season was just too brief.

The abbreviated growing season meant limited access to fresh veggies unless I wanted to drive an hour or more to a supermarket. So I decided after lots of research to get a greenhouse, not just one for starting plants, but for a year round harvest.

This week a team is coming to assemble our new Growing Dome. We had to prep the site where the dome would stand. Tom used his Polaris blade to level the ground. Men love to move earth around, don't they?
Normally Ms. Pearl would be riding shotgun, but whenever Tom raises or lowers the blade, she bolts from the cab and runs alongside.

The dome will rest on gravel, so Ernest picked it up in town and we made a nice little pile for the installers. The Angus cousins, in the background, loved the entertainment. Ms. Pearl stood by in case anyone wanted to throw the Frisbee for her. I shoveled gravel, too, really!

My back reminded me later that I was a delicate hothouse flower not made for such labor.


  1. Tom DOES look like he's having WAY to much fun with the Ranger.. I'm also willing to bet he spends more time driving that than his truck! S.S.

  2. this so exciting! can't wait to see it up and working...tom looks like THE MAN shoveling and moving earth. and 'yes' you are a delicate flower...let the men to the killer work....


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