By GWEN ALBERS, Las Vegas Optic
LAS VEGAS, NM (AP) – For Josette Ulibarri, the possibility of gardening is a dream come true.
Born with no arms or legs, Ulibarri is one of 15 people learning how to raise their own food at the Las Vegas Demonstration and Training Farm behind the closed Las Vegas College. Three days a week, the 36-year-old woman and her mother, Jeanette Roybal, tend to their 32-square-foot (3.5-square-yard) raised bed.
“We’re vegetarians and I’ve always wanted to produce our own food and herbs,” said Ulibarri, who in 2020 returned to Las Vegas with her mother after living in Phoenix for 22 years.
New Mexico State Senator Pete Campos, a Democrat from Las Vegas, helped secure about $ 50,000 for the farm start-up, said Michael Patrick, an extension economist at the University of State of New Mexico.
The project serves residents of San Miguel, Mora and Guadalupe counties, Las Vegas Optic reported.
“This is a pilot project so hopefully we can get continued funding to do something similar in other areas,” said Patrick. “The long-term goal is to train people to produce food for home consumption and for sale at farmers’ markets and possibly direct sale to restaurants, schools and grocery stores. At present, this group is in the process of learning to cultivate.
A portion of the grant funds the salary of Karlee Rogers, the farm coordinator. The 25-year-old from Las Vegas holds a bachelor’s degree in conservation management from the University of the Highlands of New Mexico.
The grant also covered one-time expenses, including two 5,000-gallon (18,927-liter) water tanks and storage containers, and paid part-time agricultural advisor Leonard Ludi of Romeroville. A retired carpenter, Ludi has an agricultural training; he helped set up the farm.
Rogers teaches participants about small-scale farming while providing fresh fruits and vegetables to families and friends.
“It was a way for me to share my practices and empower my community and bring conservation to this small town,” she said. “Anything I can do to get us there is a positive step. “
They recently built an arch house, which looks like a greenhouse but taller with tall posts. The heat is naturally controlled by the door and window openings.
In October, participants will start planting winter crops like lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, beets, cilantro and broccoli, Rogers said.
Retired computer programmer Alfredo Maestas enjoys participating in the program.
“I learned a lot about how to plan and install drip lines,” said the 72-year-old from Las Vegas.
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