August 27, 2008

Cream of the Crop


In Northern New Mexico, you cannot only see the region's history in its adobe homes and farmland irrigated by acequias, you can taste it and smell it, too -- especially in chile-roasting season.

The Trujillo family, which owns and operates El Rincon Farm in El Rincon de los Trujillo in Chimay, can trace their own lineage -- and that of their landrace Chimay chile -- back to the original settlers of the region.

Defining "landrace" in an article in Fiery Foods & BBQ, magazine editor and publisher Dave DeWitt writes that "According to chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland of New Mexico State University, a landrace is a variety of chile that has been grown for many generations (and in some case, hundreds of years) in the same location, and has adapted to that location. ... The New Mexican landraces were developed from seeds brought from central Mexico by the early Spanish explorers who settled such towns as San Juan and Santa Fe in northern New Mexico after 1600. The best-known landrace is 'Chimay,' which may be the ancestor of the other landraces."

On Sunday, the El Rincon Farm and its historic chiles -- as well as the other fruit and vegetables grown there -- will be open to visitors, who can pick their own chile and have it roasted on-site.

El Rincon is just one of the nine farms and two dairies participating in the 2008 Santa Fe Farmers Market Farm Tour.

George Gundrey, executive director of the Santa Fe Farmers Market, says the market has been organizing the farm tours for at least 10 years. "It's just a great chance," he says, "for people to go and get educated about what goes on on farms."

Other market vendors holding open houses this year include Heidi's Raspberry Farm and the Corrales Garden Nursery in Corrales; South Mountain Dairy, Edgewood, which sells goat cheese, yogurt and milk; Gallina del Sol, with heritage turkeys, other birds and nursery starts in Stanley; Mountain Flower Farm in Cedar Grove; Rocio Produce in Espanola; Second Bloom Soap Company in Los Alamos; and, in Velarde, The Fruit Basket and Eve's Farm, which grow tree fruit of every kind, and self-pick blackberries at Quarter Circle U Berry Farm.

Each farm, Gundrey says, is doing something unique. For example, the two berry farms will be selling berries on a "U-Pick" basis. At South Mountain Dairy, a goat dairy in Edgewood, for example, you can learn how they make cheese and what the issues are with taking of the goats, while at Second Bloom Soap Company, another goat farm, the focus will be on making goat-milk soap and a spinning and weaving demonstration.

"The whole point of the farmers market is to develop a relationship with the people who grow your food," Gundrey says, "and going to the farm and visiting them and maybe getting your hands dirty really supports that."

It's a hard day of work for the farms hosting the open houses, Gundrey says. "The market is on Saturday, and Sunday is usually the only day these guys have off." Still, eight of the

11 farms included in this year's tour were on the tour last year, so "they obviously had a good experience," Gundrey says. "It says to me that it's a satisfying thing for the farmers as well."

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