Celebrating 5 Years of the Española Healing Foods Oasis!


In 2016, a vision became reality: an eroded gravel slope on the back side of the Española City Hall leading down to Valdez Park was transformed into an edible food garden utilizing traditional dry-land farming techniques and permaculture principles. This fruit tree terrace garden is accessible to the local community to enjoy and interact with. It provides seasonal food, medicinal herbs, accessible pathways, aesthetic beauty, shade and solves erosion problems on the hillside, while capturing and harvesting precious rainwater.

Now as we get ready to start the fifth season of the Española Healing Foods Oasis this spring, we want to celebrate some of this past year’s highlights with you.

Opening Day in late April 2019 at the Española Healing Foods Oasis (EHFO), we welcomed a group of over 40 participants and marked our fourth year. As always, we are blessed to have the majority of our community events opened in prayer and supported in various ways by Tewa Women United’s Tsaya In’/Circle of Grandmothers. This year we added on to the southern slope by planting a space dedicated to the Fiber Arts. This means that all of the plants are used as natural dyes in weaving, or have fibers that can be harvested for textiles, and opens up a partnership with the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center.

In December, Paul Quintana, an artist from Cochiti Pueblo, installed a recycled steel piece that honors water and pollinators.

This winter has brought some new additions  thanks to our donors and friends from New Mexico Stone and Raincatcher, LLC. Raincatcher gave the lower Swale on the slope a reinforcement and aesthetic makeover, and completed seeding and geojute work, along with some new driplines in preparation for spring. New Mexico Stone is almost finished installing a new retaining wall for milpa beds, erosion control, and aesthetics, and adding some more seating above shade pergola. This would not have been possible without all those who have donated in previous fundraisers! Cheers to beautiful, functional, community spaces in 2020 and beyond!

We are launching the start of the Española Healing Foods Seed Library, a collaboration between Tewa Women United’s Environmental Health and Justice Program, New Mexico Acequia Association, Española Public Library, and local Tesuque youth farmer and activist, Emily Arrasim.  Throughout the season, local youth from Española and surrounding Pueblos have been participating in a series of seed steward training workshops at the Española Public Library. They have been busy learning about organizing, seed saving and harvesting from the EHFO, food and seed sovereignty issues, developing educational materials, impacting local policy on seeds, sorting, processing, and taking inventory of seed donations, participating in hands on seed harvests at the EHFO and building community with each other. Participants range in age from 7 years old to in their 20’s.

A local woodworker adapted a card catalogue acquired by the library into a beautiful seed cupboard that will be housed inside the library, where community members can check out seeds with the agreement that they will return either as much or more than they borrowed at the end of each season. The majority of the seeds gathered is from the EHFO. There are also traditional heirloom varieties given by local farmers, and some seeds have been donated from other regions. All of them are GE free (genetically engineered) and we continue to educate the community on the threats of GE crops on our food and seed sovereignty.

The Seed Library will officially open on March 7, 2020 – we hope you can join us for this wonderful occasion! Click here for more info about this event.

In October, seed library youth and TWU, as part of the New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance (NMFSSA); put forth a Resolution to the City of Española in support of the NMFSSA’s Declaration of Food and Seed Sovereignty. It passed unanimously, showing the deep roots that all of our diverse Peoples share for our land-based values and beliefs.

The EHFO continues to inspire collaborative and networking opportunities of many types. In June-September at the Albuquerque Museum, the EHFO was featured in “Seed: Climate Change Resilience,” an interactive art exhibit by Seed Broadcast. The garden was featured in articles in the Santa Fe Reporter, New Mexico Magazine, and Yes! Magazine.

Rematriated amaranth seed from the EHFO was gifted to our partners from Quachuu Aloom in Guatemala, and we will be traveling there in March 2020 as part of an agricultural and ceremonial exchange to help harvest them, in honor of ancient trade routes that continue to resist present day colonial borders that would harm our sustainability.

This past year we facilitated 16 educational workdays at the garden, leveraging an estimated 1,534 volunteer hours in resources. Volunteers learn about all of the Indigenous sustainable design and permaculture methods that are utilized in the garden, learn about local environmental and reproductive justice issues, and participate in hands on learning and a work exchange in reciprocity of these teachings. The garden continues to be supported by many inter-generational community volunteers, local businesses, NGO’s and non-profits, along with the City of Española. This garden is not only demonstrating sustainable agricultural technologies and climate change adaptability, but is building a space for beloved community, interfaith ceremony, healing, and reconnection to our elder plant relatives.

Links and more photos can be found on the Española Healing Foods Oasis Facebook page.