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Wheatgrass

Organic produce such as wheatgrass—product for meaningful work

Wheatgrass from a power plant

ARCA has received a $47,750 grant from the PNM Resources Foundation to support the expansion of its business enterprise, ARCA Organics.

“In 2004, PNM provided the resources to build a greenhouse on our La Entrada property in Corrales,” said Jim Douglas, ARCA Organics Division Director. ARCA Organics was launched in what is now known as ‘ARCA’s Organic Power Plant,’ a place where Associate Employees could find meaningful work growing certified organic wheatgrass. Over a decade ago, ARCA had an idea to further its mission by creating job opportunities for individuals receiving services while generating revenue to supplement funding gaps. It was a tiny idea, hardly a seed, but PNM believed it a seed worth nurturing. The seeds continue to grow and so does ARCA’s customer base.

“Along the way we’ve needed help,” said Michele Cody, ARCA Foundation Executive Director, “and PNM has stood beside us. We will always be grateful.” What started with wheatgrass has expanded to over a dozen crops.

“Business was thriving, but the most extraordinary growth was in the skills and confidence of our Associate Employees,” said Douglas. “People who had spent a lifetime focused on a disability were developing amazing new skills and, literally, nurturing their friends and neighbors.”

“ARCA Organics provides an economic benefit to our community, not only with job expansion, but also by providing a greater supply of sustainable, locally grown crops. PNM is pleased to support that growth,” says Diane Harrison Ogawa, Executive Director of the PNM Resources Foundation.

Today ARCA Organics has two greenhouses and seven acres of prime farmland—all certified organic. “Our organic produce includes garlic, blackberries, tomatoes, lettuce, apples, herbs, and, of course, wheatgrass,” said Marla Wood, ARCA Business Enterprises Director. “Our crops are grown with love and are in high demand. We knew we needed to significantly expand if we were going to meet the demand, and PNM made it possible through a grant from their Foundation.

“PNM’s investment in ARCA Organics will move us forward to fulfill our dream of employing people with developmental disabilities and sustaining our commitment to the people in our care,” said Edward Kaul, President and CEO, ARCA.

“Through this latest expansion,” said Maureen Gannon, Executive Director, Environmental Services, PNM Resources, “ARCA continues to create economic value and demonstrates its commitment to building a strong workplace and strengthening communities. PNM is thrilled that ARCA will be here for years to come to serve the precious lives of those with developmental disabilities.”

ARCA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1957 by a group of Albuquerque families who had children with developmental disabilities. The mission of ARCA has remained consistent for 53 years: opening doors for people with developmental disabilities to be valued members of our community. For more information, please call Michele Cody at 332-6803 or visit our website at www.ARCAOpeningDoors.org.


Medicaid expansion for New Mexico

—Sharon Kayne

New Mexico Voices for Children’s executive director Dr. Veronica C. García released the following statement regarding Governor Martinez’s decision to expand Medicaid as provided for in the Affordable Care Act on January 9:

“The right decision was made today for New Mexico’s families, children, and economy. The Medicaid expansion will do much more than provide health coverage for some 150,000 low-income adults who currently have no insurance. Some 50,000 New Mexico children who are eligible for Medicaid have been allowed to fall through the cracks and are not enrolled. As low-income parents enroll for Medicaid under the new eligibility criteria beginning in 2014, their children will be enrolled in the state’s New MexiKids program.

“The Medicaid expansion will also be an economic boon to New Mexico. As our research—and the research of other respected organizations—has shown, this influx of federal money will create much-needed jobs and economic activity. Taxpayers and the state will also save money because people will be able to get preventive treatment for illnesses instead of getting much more expensive treatment in the emergency room when they can no longer wait.

“In the light of this positive news, we urge New Mexico’s policy-makers to step up their work to put the other provisions of the Affordable Care Act into place—most importantly to create a health insurance exchange that is consumer friendly.”


Honeybee

Honeybee extracts nectar

Be nice to bees

—Judy Allen

I’m heading into my third spring as a beekeeper. In an effort to promote honeybee health and safety, I thought it would be great to spread the word to a wide audience about how ordinary people in Sandoval County and beyond can help honeybees.

Most of us have heard of the plight of honeybees these days: colony collapse disorder and varoa mite plagues. The good news is that simple answers are emerging.

First of all, people can plant nectar–producing plants: bee food—trees, shrubs, flowers and cover crops that bees love. The following plants are known to be beneficial to bees as well as other pollinating insects, and includes trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and multi-use plantings.

Trees:
Linden or Basswood tree, Catalpa, Honey Locust, Tatarian Maple, Korean Evodia also known as the Bee Bee tree, American Plum, Mountain Ash, Hawthorn, all types of fruit trees

Shrubs:
Peashrub, Cotoneaster, Chokecherry, Sand Cherry, Nanking Cherry, Viburnum, Leadplant, Spirea, Lavender, NM Privet

Perennials:
Columbine, Comfrey, Mint, Echinops Thistle, Allium, Angelica, Motherwort, St. John’s Wort, Mallow, Roses, Hyssop, Salvia, Monarda

Cover Crops:
Sweet Clover, Alfalfa, Alsike clover, Buckwheat, Yellow Mustard, Phacelia, Hairy Vetch

Annuals:
Borage, Sunflowers, Cosmos, Cleome, Tulsi Basil

Secondly, people can avoid using the most devastating pesticides—the neonicotinoids. Actually, avoid using all pesticides if possible. Talk to the master gardeners at the Sandoval County Extension Service for alternatives. 

Thirdly, especially in these drought years, create bee watering stations. A shallow, wide container filled with pebbles or gravel is ideal. Fill the container with enough water to wet the bases of the rocks. Bees cannot swim and need a landing spot to avoid drowning.

People need to keep in mind that bees are not usually aggressive. They are much more interested in drinking nectar from flowers than anything else.

Innovative dental bill passes first committee

—Danielle Boudreau, Health Action New Mexico

The bipartisan, community-supported Dental Therapist-Hygienist bill, HB 17, passed the House Health, Government, and Indian Affairs Committee with a unanimous vote on February 14. HB 17 goes next to the House Business and Industry Committee where it is expected to be heard as early as this February 23.

New Mexico is experiencing a dental crisis:

  • The state ranks 49th in the country on the number of dentists per one-thousand residents.
  • People in thrity of New Mexico’s 33 counties face serious dental care shortages and 69 percent of dentists statewide are located only in metropolitan areas.
  • Barely half of Medicaid-enrolled children in New Mexico received dental care in 2009.

The proposal to add dental therapist-hygienists to New Mexico’s dental team will enable dentist-led teams to provide increased care in the state’s most underserved communities. As a result of having a more robust and complete team, New Mexicans will be able to get routine and preventive care that has not been available in their communities in the past. This includes access for working families and children in rural, tribal, and underserved communities, as well as seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities. It will also help create jobs, expand dental businesses, and reduce unnecessary government spending on dental emergencies. The model is working in Alaska, Minnesota, and 52 other countries.

Governor Susanna Martinez’s January decision to expand Medicaid offers an additional opportunity for the future of these mid-level dental providers. Under the expanded program, 170,000 more New Mexicans will be eligible for Medicaid, meaning that the demand for dental care will be greater than ever. With the community-supported model in HB 17, new dental therapist-hygienists would be directly tied to communities that are currently underserved. It would address the need for services in both rural and urban communities statewide.

 
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