Sandoval Signpost

 

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Growing food in a hotter, drier Middle Rio Grande Valley—experiments in community food resilience

—Vickie Peck

I have been a fan of Gary Nabhan since I lived in Tucson in the late Eighties. His prolific writings at the crossroads of food, culture, and desert ecology are filled with wisdom, wit, and useful information. I was surprised, however, when I cracked his recent book, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, to find that he and I shared a similar state of mind.

Nabhan wrote, “I felt incapacitated from imagining, let alone taking any positive action in response to climatic disruptions, especially when it came to how shifting weather patterns would affect our food security. I sensed that, to get out of my depression, it would take me hearing a fresh story...”

I knew his last statement was also true for me: I needed a new story about how to respond to climate change. What could I engage in that would provide a way out of the depression? When I spoke of my dilemma regarding climate change with my teacher, he was quiet for a few moments. Then he said, “You must grow your own food.”

That was the origin of a project our CoGrow group calls “experiments in community food resilience.” This spring we will plant an experimental farm on two acres of Rio Grande bottom land in Algodones, where we will evaluate approaches that, if successful, will produce fresh food with less water while sequestering carbon in the soil. The results of our experiments will be published and the methodologies will be shared broadly with growers in the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

If you are looking for an opportunity to grow your own food using experimental, climate-friendly methods, we would like to hear from you. We are looking for additional growers—with or without experience—who are available to work at the farm on a regular basis. We will also be hosting special events to share the outcomes of our experiments in growing food in a hotter, dried land. Contact me: vmpeck@gmail.com, and keep an eye out for reports from the field in the Sandoval Signpost.


Sandoval County residents among state’s healthiest

Signpost staff

Sandoval County has again been ranked as the second-healthiest county in New Mexico, based on measurements of education, poverty, quality of life, and other factors.

“It’s something to be proud of, and I think it says a lot,” Director Peggy Cote of the county Community Services Department said. She cited as two factors the presence of new hospitals in Rio Rancho and indigent funding that helps low-income residents access health care.

The annual study is done by the University of Wisconsin Public Health Institute with funding from the Johnson Foundation. It covered all of New Mexico’s 33 counties, except Harding whose population of fewer than seven hundred provided too little data. The study ranked Mora County as thirty-second.

The study looked at policies and programs, health factors and health outcomes, the latter being quality of life and length of life. The top-ranked county, again, was Los Alamos.

Sandoval County has been ranked second or third on this scale among New Mexico counties every year since 2010. Los Alamos County typically holds the top spot.

“A number of factors contribute to Sandoval County’s consistently high ranking in this study,” said Peggy Cote, director of the Sandoval County Community Services Department, which manages the county’s Community Health Program. “The study shows that Sandoval County residents, on average, are well-educated. It also shows that the county is well below the state average in terms of children living in poverty. County residents also have fairly good access to exercise facilities. All of those things contribute to people living longer, healthier lives.”

She also noted that the county’s Community Health Program contributes to the overall health of the population by offering low-income residents access to healthcare. The Community Health Program operates out of the Sandoval County Health Commons in Bernalillo.

The Health Commons offers immunization services and a nutrition program for low-income parents and children. The staff also assists county residents in signing up for insurance through the New Mexico Health Exchange, Medicare, or Medicaid.

 “Over the past three years, we have helped more than 3,500 people get insurance through the health exchange or Medicaid,” Cote added. “That leads to better health outcomes.”


Bike and yogathon

—Jaclyn Acree

Hundreds of local residents are joining forces to fight lung cancer, united in the belief that surviving lung cancer should be the expectation, not the exception. These everyday superheroes will be meeting at the Albuquerque Free to Breathe Bike Ride and Yogathon on April 3, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 4th Street SW in Albuquerque). All proceeds from the event support Free to Breathe, a lung cancer research and advocacy organization dedicated to doubling lung cancer survival by 2022.

Every dollar counts to the more than 224,000 people diagnosed in the U.S with lung cancer each year. In New Mexico alone, an estimated 1,020 residents will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2016.

This year’s event will feature a twenty-mile, ten-mile, and six-mile bike ride course, and the inaugural 120-minute yogathon. The yogathon will be a varied intensity yoga practice preceded by a thirty-minute outdoor yoga warm-up and ending with a thirty-minute flow cool down. The 2016 Albuquerque Free to Breathe Bike Ride and Yogathon is dedicated to Tim Peterson. Tim was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2013 and passed away in June 2015. Gather your superhero squad, and join us for an inspiring day focused on doubling lung cancer survival. To register and begin fundraising, visit www.freetobreathe.org/albuquerque.

 
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