In July the trainees and incubators from the Grow the Growers Farm Training and Business Incubator Program in Albuquerque, New Mexico participated in a Holistic Management training that HMI has delivered for the past four years in collaboration with the Agricultura Network, Bernalillo County Open Space, and the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension, with funding from the Thornburg Foundation. Two of the trainees, Becca Marshall a first-year trainee and Sergio Schwartz a second-year incubator, manage their land together. They shared their experience creating their shared Holistic Goal and how it has helped them with their project.
Tell us about your project.
Our community farm, Del Cielo, is in its first year of growth. We have one acre of land in the South Valley of Albuquerque. Three quarters of the acre is at our main farm space and a quarter of the acre is being farmed on county land. The primary focus of our farm is on community building and strengthening the South Valley food system. Using regenerative practices, we are working to grow culturally- and locally-appropriate foods that feed the community and land; this year we grew mixed vegetables and flowers and hope to continue to expand our native and locally-adapted plant species.
What motivated you two to complete your Holistic Goal for your land project?
Sergio: I think it is really easy to become paralyzed when you realize that many of your values seem to struggle lining up with popular practices and notions around what it means to farm or to steward land. It can even create a sense of imposter syndrome making me feel like a poser if I’m not working a certain way. I feel like the Holistic Goal gave us the framework on which we could begin to build a community vision on the foundation of our shared core values.
Becca: Another part of why we wanted to create a Holistic Goal was to clarify our vision and mission as a community farm, which will help us build a supporting structure that can guide us as we continue to grow and make decisions.
What was the most important thing you learned while drafting your goal?
Sergio: How things are not always black and white. And a Holistic Goal can be an organic and evolving document that grows and changes with our understanding and practice of stewardship. We realized that as we developed our goal some of our actions were not aligning with our beliefs and it helped reorient us to proceed with more insight and thoughtfulness.
Becca: I agree with Sergio, creating the Holistic Goal helped us reassess the decisions we’ve made so far and change those decisions where appropriate so that we stay in-line with our goal. For example, one of our goals is to strengthen the food system in our local community, however, we had been selling at the downtown Grower’s Market in Albuquerque, which is not a market in the community we grow in. So, we decided to withdraw from that market and will now be selling at a local market in the South Valley instead to better support that goal.
How did you feel after completing your Holistic Goal (or reviewing it)?
Sergio: That feeling you get when you start to build something and the pieces come together in a way where you actually begin to see your plans taking shape. Excited in anticipation!
Becca: We had written a lot of the pieces of our Holistic Goal for a grant prior to this, but it was great to revisit and reshape our goals. It definitely makes me feel more focused and direction-full moving forward as a farm.
Excerpt from Del Cielo Holistic Goal
Del Cielo is a vibrant, community-focused farm hub supporting and expanding food sovereignty in the South Valley.
Del Cielo’s primary focus is cultivating and strengthening community agency and sovereignty by recognizing it as a dynamic whole and working closely with the South Valley community.
Del Cielo is an educational & resource-center for community members as well as an agricultural-liaison — weaving together the resources and interests of other small farms, food & educational organizers, and established community organizations. At Del Cielo our efforts focus on creating a safe space, listening to, advocating for, and providing opportunities within marginalized communities, specifically those around the South Valley.