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Fidel Gonzalez
Fidel Gonzalez Photo: Sayrah Namaste / AFSC

 In February AFSC-New Mexico hosted its second virtual Peer to Peer Learning Circle for New Mexico growers. The topic was “Nurturing Soil for a Healthy Climate," led by two farmers who have worked with AFSC-NM for many years. Fidel Gonzalez and Matthew Draper shared strategies to steward soil health for farm production and climate health.

Farming since 2009, Fidel is a graduate of the AFSC training program and the president of Agri-Cultura Network, a farmer-owned cooperative incubated by AFSC-NM. He shared his experience learning from farmers in India who use no-till methods and his own experience of the benefits of low-till methods in New Mexico. 

Matthew has been farming since 2015 and is the farm manager of North Valley Organics. He shared cover cropping techniques as well as a crop planning system to grow healthy soil and an economically viable farm. 

The peer-to-peer learning circle was well attended with about 60 growers from a large cross-section of New Mexico logging on. There was a robust question-and-answer session as people were eager to learn how to adopt these eco-friendly practices into their farms and gardens.

For the last 10 years, AFSC-NM has been convening farmers from across the state and tribes into our annual farmer gathering. Our gathering has been an opportunity for small-scale family farmers to share experiences and knowledge with other farmers. The gathering builds and strengthens relationships with farmers from all parts of the state as part of our strategy for cooperative food systems as an alternative to the current food system model.

Due to pandemic-related public health orders preventing gatherings, AFSC-NM has switched to an online version of this skill sharing event to adapt to our current reality. We are glad growers are willing to share their expertise online and support each other in nurturing the soil for a healthy climate.

 View the full video here or below.