News & Updates

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Sembrando Salud Project Takes Root!

Neighbors and friends in Albuquerque’s South Valley area of Foothill Road, SW, have formed a Sembrando Salud neighborhood garden to feed themselves over the summer. This is one of several neighborhood gardens launched this year in the South Valley. Sembrando Salud is a NEW Center of Southwest Culture project that helps working people grow organic vegetables and raise egg-laying chickens to help augment a healthy daily diet. Sembrando Salud provides technical assistance by identifying and organizing families and neighbors; providing garden plans and drip systems; providing organic seeds; and, providing a 12-roost chicken coop and an initial brood of 10 hens. Sembrando Salud also provides a nutritionist to teach families and neighbors how to prepare healthy food.


Story Riders Rolling Towards Cultural Competence!

This innovative NEW CSC program organizes elementary school kids to enjoy after school bicycle rides to the homes of Mexicano/Chicano elders to learn about cultural values and traditions. The outdoor exercise program includes reading and writing about the lessons learned from the elders. Story Riders will combine culturally-based education and writing tied to specific bicycle rides that provide the educational and cultural experiences that will give these elementary students a deep dive into their culture while building their physical skills via bicycle rides throughout the mid-Rio Grande region. Story Riders will target 5th grade students from elementary schools in predominantly Mexicano and Chicano neighborhoods.

New CSC Staff Members Now Aboard

CSC has added three new staff members to support the Center’s growing success. Omar Torres is the project coordinator for Sembrando Salud. He has been a community organizer for several years and is currently attending the University of New Mexico. He will organize neighborhood gardens across New Mexico to help solve the state’s severe food desert problem. Marco Sandoval is the project coordinator for Story Riders. He has been an active community organizer for several years and is also currently attending the University of New Mexico. Story Riders organizes elementary school kids to enjoy after school bicycle rides to the homes of Mexicano/Chicano elders to learn about cultural values and traditions. The outdoor exercise program includes reading and writing about the lessons learned from the elders.  Marco Antonio Nieto is an administrative assistant in CSC’s finance department. He is assisting CSC Finance Director Noemí Dávila.


Marco Antonio Nieto

Omar Torres

 Marco Sandoval



El Mogote Cooperative Continues to Grow!

Under the leadership of Higinia and Watts Gallegos, El Mogote Cooperative in Cañones, NM, continues to expand its organic farming operations. This year, El Mogote has added two new greenhouses and two new acres of growing area to its production. The cooperative sells the majority of its produce to Ghost Ranch Conference and Retreat Center, located about 30 minutes away across Abiquiu Lake from the coop. 


Bueno Para Todos Cooperative in Full Bloom!

Bueno Para Todos Farmers’ Cooperative has planted more than 6 acres of organic vegetables in its initial season in the Villanueva Valley of northern New Mexico. They have also erected two 100’x30’ greenhouses to extend the growing season and installed irrigation piping to convert acequia water into a drip irrigation system. The coop has an initial membership of 11 farmers.



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The Center of Southwest Culture—through its economic development division, the Cooperative Development Center—recently helped launch a new organic farming cooperative in the Villanueva Valley of northern New Mexico. With an initial founding group of nine farmers, Bueno Para Todos Farming Cooperative will plant a total of 6-8 acres at four different sites during its inaugural season. Raza students from the University of New Mexico joined local Villanueva Valley farmers and coop members to erect the coop’s new greenhouse in mid-April. 


Good NEWS! 

The Center has received funding for its 2016 work from several major foundations. Kellogg Foundation awarded the Center a two-year grant to continue its development of cooperatives among underserved communities in Bernalillo County. The McCune Foundation also has provided a grant to help the Center continue creating cooperatives across New Mexico. And the Candelaria Fund has provided a matching grant for cooperative development in rural communities across New Mexico. We are deeply grateful to the support of these foundations! We expect to receive more funding from other foundations, government agencies and individual donors throughout the year.

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Bueno Para Todos Cooperative Launches! 

Thanks to an economic development grant from San Miguel County, CODECE has helped organize a new organic farming cooperative in the Villanueva Valley in San Miguel County. The cooperative will plant its first ever organic crops in late spring, 2016 at multiple sites owned by individual members of the cooperative. CODECE is helping identify markets for the organic produce expected to be grown this season; providing farm plans with succession planting schedules; and providing a master farmer to provide ongoing technical assistance throughout the season. CODECE also provided a $10,000 greenhouse to the new cooperative to permit its farmers to extend the growing season and increase their income.

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New Collaboration With RFK Charter High School Begins!

The Center is working with the Robert F. Kennedy Charter High School in Albuquerque’s South Valley to launch a farming cooperative among RFK students who have expressed an interest in organic farming. This year, the Center is providing a one-acre farm site for use by RFK student apprentices. The Center is providing farm plans, markets and instruction to RFK students. RFK has also assigned a farmer to help the students learn farming.

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CSC Acquires Tractor, Implements & Greenhouses for Farm Coops!

The Center has purchased a farm tractor for shared use by the emerging coops in the mid-Rio region. The tractor is used to plow, disk and create furrows on the various farm sites used by the numerous farm coops already up and running in the mid-Rio Grande Region. Shared use of farm tractors and implements is part of the economy of scale the Center provides to its emerging farm cooperatives. CODECE was also able to purchase 8 100’x30’ greenhouses to provide to several of our cooperatives. In all, the Center will provide more than $150,000 in infrastructure for emerging cooperatives in 2016.

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César Chávez Event a Huge Success!

¡Sí Se Puede! The Center sponsors the annual Recuerda a César Chávez Event in Albuquerque. This year, more than 1,000 people attended the César Chávez Festival at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on March 26, while nearly 400 students participated on March 25 in a day of service in honor of Chávez at Sánchez Farms in Albuquerque’s South Valley. 



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Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Grant

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded CSC’s Cooperative Development Center a Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Grant (BFRG) for 2015-2016, to help develop new organic farming cooperatives among underserved communities in New Mexico. CSC was the only New Mexico NIFA BFRG grantee in the 2015-2016 cycle.  “We are deeply committed to helping our traditional land-based communities create wealth for themselves and their communities through organic farming and other cooperative business ventures,” said CSC Executive Director Arturo Sandoval.

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San Miguel County Contract

CSC’s Cooperative Development Center (CODECE) was just awarded a business development contract by San Miguel County to continue its successful development of organic farming cooperatives in the Pecos River area of the county. “We already have successful organic farming coops in the county and this contract will permit us to create even more farm coops for San Miguel County residents,” said CODECE program manager Cristhian Rangel.


La Carpa—Informal Education Programs Division

CSC’s Informal Education Division has launched its College Readiness Initiative in collaboration with Gadsden High school in Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico. Students there took the ACT test in September and are currently receiving intense tutoring from CSC’s Informal Education Division to help them raise their ACT scores high enough to permit them to avoid taking remedial classes when they enter post-secondary colleges and universities. This pilot program will compare two control group results after the December ACT test results are in, according to Informal Education Division Program Manager Javier Rojo.




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