Country and city agricultural adventures in and around the Albuquerque–Santa Fe corridor
It’s an official lifestyle trend: All over the country, city-dwelling folks are hungering for small-scale, sustainable farming products and experiences. ✤ Our most metropolitan central strip had all of that a lot earlier than elsewhere, and never lost it. Native Americans have farmed the land along the Río Grande between what later became La Villa de Alburquerque (back in 1706 it had that extra r) and La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís for more than 1,000 years. All around both cities, wineries carry on the traditions of the earliest Spanish settlers, who brought their grape cuttings from the Mother Country to make central New Mexico the first wine-growing region in North America—yes, way before those upstarts in Napa Valley. ✤ Smack in the middle of Albuquerque sits one of the longest continually farmed fields in the United States, a part of one of the earliest Spanish Colonial settlements in the Río Grande Valley. Today it supports a vibrant community garden. ✤ In Santa Fe, the booming farmers’ market got its start back in the late 1960s, some 40 years before locavore became the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2007. It’s always been a growers’ market, meaning that its founders put strict rules in place back about the time of Woodstock, so that buyers would meet the person who grew and harvested the food—as they still do. ✤ Around our largest city, the South and North Valleys and the adjoining village of Corrales still feel rural, with pastured cows and horses grazing, and everything from chiles to raspberries sprouting along important thoroughfares. ✤ In our September issues this year and last, we’ve taken you on trips through some of the state’s most delightful country roads, to experience our pecan growers near Las Cruces and potato farmers outside Questa. This month, join us for an urban-farm adventure.
Let the feast begin.
Santa Fe Trails
Santo Domingo (Kewa) Pueblo
Humetewa Family Oven Bread, Tamales, and Cookies Take the Pueblo exit (259) off I-25 and head toward the Phillips 66 station in the distance. Beside the station, a variety of folks from the Pueblo will be selling their jewelry, pottery, and other wares. You are in search of Josephine Humetewa, the matriarch of this lovely and lively family; her daughters Sandra or Joann; or her granddaughter Deidra. If none of them is there, Josephine says to call her at (505) 465-0045 and she’ll give you directions to her home in the Pueblo village. The family uses Bluebird flour, milled in Colorado for their foodstuffs, but the pork and chile all come from the Pueblo. A fascinating and special experience you won’t have in . . . well, just about anywhere else.
Casa Abril Vineyards & Winery As you arrive in this high-desert setting, the Jémez Mountains rise dramatically across the western horizon. Owner Raymond Vigil jokes, “My family came late to the area in comparison to my wife Sheila’s ancestors, who arrived from Spain in 1598. My slowpoke family didn’t get here until 1605.” The property on which the winery sits was deeded to Vigil’s father, a miner in Golden and Madrid, by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. These days he puts it to good agricultural use, growing and producing predominantly Spanish and Argentinean grape varietals. Estate selections include Malbec, zinfandel, and a standout tempranillo. And check out the brand-new tempranillo rosé, in the dry European style.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas The elegantly named Ranch of the Swallows is a living-history museum, a 200-acre showcase of ranch life in 18th- and 19th-century New Mexico. See farm animals and seasonal farm crops as a part of self-guided tours. The weekend of October 5–6 marks the ranch’s annual Harvest Festival, a real blast from New Mexico’s past and one of my favorite events of the year. Visitors can tour the property in a horse-drawn wagon, then experience traditional farm and ranch activities like shearing sheep, baking bread, making tortillas, milling grain, and tanning hides. Kids can meet burros, goats, mini-horses, even a wolf. An outdoor procession and Mass on Sunday morning is an especially lovely event. ➐
Green Tractor Farm Tom Dixon grew up on this three-acre property tucked next to an acequia in this traditional agricultural village. After years of having a garden of ever-increasing size, Tom and his wife, Mary, retired from “real” jobs and began working even harder as full-time farmers. Certified organic since 2006, the farm provides a broad selection of vegetables for their booth at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market and for businesses such as Santa Fe’s Restaurant Martín and Joe’s. The Dixons raise wine grapes too. Contact them ahead via their website to visit the property and learn about sustainable and organic agriculture. ➊ ➎
Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Because the City of Santa Fe doesn’t permit the selling of produce from roadside stands, the city’s farmers have a strong relationship with its market. One of the biggest, most bustling farmers’ markets anywhere, this Santa Fe institution spills from its handsome, tin-roofed market hall in the Railyard in multiple directions, more than 100 vendors strong. Expect a kaleidoscope of seasonal produce, chile roasting, grass-fed meats, cheeses and other dairy products, eggs, baked goods, body-care products, and traditional dried foods like beans, posole, and chicos (smoky, oven-roasted corn kernels). Most of the vendors grow without pesticides or herbicides, and many are certified organic. Concessions serve food made from vendors’ ingredients. Don’t miss the new Farmers’ Market Shops, open during Market hours and featuring local garden products, teas, chocolate, wine, and more. ➊ ➋ ➐
The Succulent Garden Just south of the Santa Fe city limits, not far off I-25, Sam Hitt grows a diversity of vegetables and fruits, and raises chickens for eggs. He sells at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market and, for those who wish to drop by, at his farm. To see the farm, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are best, from 8 a.m. to noon. Sam also runs a small market on Friday afternoons for those who’ve responded to his weekly e-mails to reserve available produce. Expect lettuce, Asian greens, carrots, leeks, eggplant, shishito peppers, and elongated French Breakfast radishes, among other items. Sam’s brother Pete makes handsome stone-and-succulent gardens—really, miniature plant worlds—carved from native rocks. ➋ ➎
Jackalope This locally owned business never fails to entertain kids of all ages. While it sells much more than farm products (pottery, value-priced folk art, furniture, crafts), the bushel baskets of southern New Mexico green chiles, the dangling red ristras, and pumpkins all make it a must during harvest season. There’s also a Mexican food truck on the premises. ➐
Santa Fe Spirits With a brand-new downtown tasting room at 308 Read Street, Colin Keegan’s taking his southside distillery to new heights. His Expedition vodka, made of corn and Sangre de Cristo mountain water, established him as a formidable maker of small-batch spirits. The new Wheeler’s gin, flavored with Southwest botanicals, makes an ethereal twist on the Moscow Mule when paired with ginger beer. I’m also a fan of the apple brandy, with vanilla undertones, made with fruit from Keegan’s own orchard in Tesuque, first homesteaded by the groundskeeper of famed Archbishop Lamy. ➋
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen This oh-so-sweet restaurant newcomer sits in a cool design-center compound on Pacheco Street. It’s nurturing in all respects: a lofty, light-filled space with simple, well-chosen foods from around the globe. It easily accommodates vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten-free, as well as the eaters of everything. Owners Soma Franks and Fiona Wong select top-notch, ethically raised ingredients, many of them from the area, and grind their own grains each morning because pre-ground grains so quickly lose nutrients. Mornings here can start with dishes like banana-buckwheat pancakes or a breakfast burrito stuffed with sweet potatoes, black beans, caramelized onions, and eggs. At lunch I might opt for the Indonesian vegetable curry, but I’ve never gone wrong with their soup-and-salad combos. The restaurant’s the first in the state with wines on tap along with beer, and it offers several varieties of mead, a honey-based wine, from the local Falcon Meadery. ➋ ➐
Atrisco Cafe If traditional New Mexican eats are more in line with what you desire, Atrisco Cafe can fill the bill, and your stomach, quite well. This bustling and friendly spot offers a host of New Mexico farm- and ranch-raised chiles, lamb, beef, salad greens, even cornmeal. On Blue Mondays, the blue-corn tortillas and blue-corn tamale masa come from Pojoaque Pueblo, just up the road. Owner George Gundrey, once the manager of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, goes to great lengths to make sure the food is fresh. You’ll see everyone here—chefs, farmers, families, and the occasional former Governor or First Lady. A real value. ➋ ➐
Joe’s Restaurant There’s really no Joe, but Roland Richter and his wife, Sheila, see to it that the food is truly farm fresh and as local as possible. The space, in a southside mall near the intersection of Rodeo and Zia Roads, started out as a cute neighborhood diner, but gradually the dishes have gone more upscale, with no loss of comfort or drastic rise in price. On the menu you can still find burgers—from New Mexico beef, lamb, or bison—and a Reuben sandwich, but now you can also enjoy steamed mussels on fettucine Provençal or grilled scallops over bok choy and grilled eggplant, accompanied by a fine selection of beers and wines. ➋ ➐
Buckin’ Bee Honey Labels featuring a cowboy bronco-ridin’ a big ol’ bee will let your friends know this ain’t honey from Tupelo. Steve Wall’s beekeeping business is headquartered at his home on Santa Fe’s southeast side. Wall says, “We have a special environment here in northern New Mexico, with high altitude, little rainfall, and unique flora that gives our honey and beeswax characteristics you won’t find anywhere else.” He sells honey, beeswax, bee pollen, and other bee products, such as his own lip balm, and offers regular beekeeping classes, too. Someone’s usually at his home to show you the hives and sell products, so stop by any day. ➋ ➍ ➏
Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta This event, now nearly 25 years old, brings in big collectors as well as big-name culinary talent for tastings, classes, wine dinners, and more. SFWCF takes place at various venues in the Santa Fe area September 25–29. This year’s guest chefs include Matthew Accarrino, of the Michelin one-star restaurant SPQR in San Francisco; Bruce Aidells, founder of Aidells Sausage Company; Susana Trilling, owner of Seasons of My Heart, the Mexican cooking school in Oaxaca; and David Tanis, author, New York Times weekly columnist, and onetime Santa Fe chef (at the departed Café Escalera). Master sommeliers Melissa Monosoff, Joe Spellman, Tim Gaiser, and the well-named Emily Wines offer seminars this year. Seth Box, of Moët Hennessy, will lead a tasting of older vintages of Champagne Krug, Dom Pérignon, and Veuve Clicquot. Shelley Lindgren, owner of San Francisco’s SPQR and A16 restaurants, takes guests on a tantalizing tasting of six noble Italian wine regions. Santa Fe’s constellation of chefs offer classes, demos, wine dinners, and myriad food samplings at the wildly popular “Main Event” on Saturday afternoon, under tents at The Santa Fe Opera. Book as early as possible—nearly every one of the many events sells out in advance. ➎ ➏ ➐
Between Golden and Madrid
LaMont’s Wild West Buffalo Lana and Monty Fastnacht raise bison and yaks on ranch property in the Turquoise Hills, off N.M. 14. They offer tours, overnight buffalo camps, hunts, hides, and their lean, USDA-inspected meats, which you can also pick up at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. The Fastnachts live about an hour from the ranch property, so it’s essential to call ahead. Charges commensurate with the level of activity. Those who order meat are welcome to look at the herds for no charge. ➋ ➎
Need to Know
Santa Fe Trails: Santa Fe and Environs
SANTO DOMINGO PUEBLO Humetewa Family Exit 259 off I-25, Phillips 66 Station; (505) 465-0045
Casa Abril Winery. Open Thurs.–Sun. noon–5 p.m. Just W. of I-25 at Exit 257, then follow the signs. (505) 771-0208; casaabrilvineyards.com
El Rancho de las Golondrinas Open Wed.–Sun. through Sept. 334 Los Pinos Road, S. of Santa Fe at I-25 Exit 276; (505) 471-2261; golondrinas.org
Green Tractor Farm Schedule a visit via greentractorfarm.com
Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Tues., Sat. 7 a.m.–noon. 1607 Paseo de Peralta at S. Guadalupe; (505) 983-4098; santafefarmersmarket.com
The Succulent Garden Farm visits Tues., Wed. 8 a.m.–noon. Call ahead. 48 Old Galisteo Way; (505) 438-1057; email@example.com
Jackalope Open daily. 2820 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe; (505) 471-8539; jackalope.com
Santa Fe Spirits Tours and tastings Wed.–Sat. 3–5 p.m. Cocktails available for purchase 5–7 p.m. 7505 Mallard Way, Unit 1; (505) 467-8892; Check website for 308 Read St. hours. santafespirits.com
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen See website for hours. 1512 Pacheco St., Bldg. B; (505) 795-7383; sweetwatersf.com
Atrisco Cafe 193 Paseo de Peralta in DeVargas Center; (505) 983-7401; atriscocafe.com
Joe’s Restaurant 2801 Rodeo Rd.; (505) 471-3800; joesdining.com
Buckin’ Bee Honey 2376 Santa Barbara Dr.; (505) 989-1197; buckinbee.com
Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta (505) 438-8060; santafewineandchile. org
BETWEEN GOLDEN AND MADRID
La Mont’s Wild West Buffalo Call ahead. (505) 869-4438, 252-0141; lamontbuffalo.com
This is the first in a two part series. The second part, focussing on Albuquerque will post to nmmagazine.com Sept. 25.