Kale, Collards and Kimchi – The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market in Winter

_p9a5061The term “farmers market” calls to mind a hot summer day, strolling through aisles of colorful fruits and leafy vegetables. But at the Santa Fe Farmers Market the greens are abundant yearround, and the unique wintertime vendors come together to create a market that’s completely and deliciously diverse.

According to Ceci Ervin, marketing coordinator for the Santa Fe Farmers Market, the winter market takes places every Saturday, from the first Saturday in December through the first of May. Fifty vendors, all from the 15 Northern New Mexico counties, come to the market to sell what they’ve grown, cooked, and created. “You’re going to find things here at the market that grow right here in the northern part of New Mexico, and that is pretty unique,” Ceci says. “You know you are getting authentic, real produce.” The market has strict guidelines for participants, requiring that all fruits, vegetables, and nursery items are always 100-percent grown in the northern counties. And in the baked goods and crafts, at least 70 percent of the materials are local, too.

The diversity of offerings at the market is truly unparalleled. “The winter market gives us so much diversity because you will find things like holiday jewelry, crafts, basketry, and pottery, alongside the greens that the farmers grow year round,” Ceci explains. “It is surprising to people that we can have greens all year. But it is all thanks to the farmers and the hoop houses.” Along with the typical winter fare for vegetables, which often includes potatoes and root vegetables like squashes, you’ll also find heartier greens like kale and collards, and even spinach. Continue reading

For the Love of Lavender

conastogawagonLavender is a shape shifter, transforming from a sweet herbaceous undertone in lemonade and cupcakes, to essential oils in body products that can ease tension and heal skin. This month, two festivals—one in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and one in Abiquiu—exude purple passion, showing off our love of lavender in any and every form.    

Lavender in the Village, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Lavender in the Village returns after a two-year hiatus for a refreshed festival that promises to capture the community spirit that has made it a favorite for 10 years. Longtime Lavender in the Village board member Katie Snapp grew up visiting her grandparents’ farm outside Kansas City. For her, the fete has a sense of nostalgia. “This festival gives you that bucolic reminiscence,” she says.  

grey-lavenderPenny Rembe, whose family owns Los Poblanos Inn and Organic Farm, itself a major player in the world of lavender, founded the festival more than a decade ago. For nine years, a small board and community volunteers put on the two-day festival that drew 6,000 to 8,000 people to the pastoral island within metropolitan Albuquerque. For this year’s event, the board bypassed that logistical feat, hiring event creator Dean Strober of Blue River Productions. Dean’s also put on notable food fests such as Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest and Southwest Bacon Fest. “People love this event,” he says. “It has such an incredible following and such a long and wonderful history of bringing people together.”

Dean has several changes in store. This year’s festival will unfold on one day, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lavender in the Village will also take place in one location—versus several, as in previous years. Happenings will take place at the Agri-Nature Center, a working farm across the street from Los Poblanos Inn & Organic Farm that backs up to Los Poblanos Open Space. The rural oasis will host open-air yoga classes in the field—another new addition this year. Live music, from bluegrass to a Beatles tribute band, will mingle with the sounds of conversation shared over lavender sangria and craft beer. More than 100 vendors (previous years have had around 40) will tout lavender used in every way, from artists to paint it to purveyors like Old Windmill Dairy. “There’s something very healing and beautiful about it. It’s very much New Mexico at its core,” Strober says. Although the event is family friendly, if parents want to enjoy it for a couple hours by themselves, they can drop off their brood at the Kids Camp, with hands-on activities by Los Ranchos Farm Camp. No matter which aspect of the festival participants enjoy, lavender and sustainable agriculture will be at the fore. On-site parking is limited, so be sure to follow the directional signage to off-site lots and shuttles.

Lavender at Los PoblanosPrior to Lavender in the Village, on July 8 and 9, Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm will host a four-course, field-to-fork dinner.

Tickets: Ages 13 and up $8, Agri-Nature Center, 4920 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, lavenderinthevillage.com.

Lavender in the Valley, Abiquiu

Purple Adobe Lavender Farm may have founded this festival, but the celebration’s purple flags fly across the Abiquiu valley, July 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The Abiquiu Inn will serve a special lavender themed menu––and lavender lemonade and lavender chocolate chip cookies are on deck at Bode’s general store. Artists will capture the purple flowers in their paintings live at Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center.

Of course, the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm is the event’s epicenter, and the happenings here are as bountiful as the crop. Visitors can join field tours, enjoy the shade under the ramada to make crafts such as Victorian wands, and listen to the flute and guitar of Ronald Roybal and Ryan Dominguez. Santa Fe-based photographer Woody Galloway is the festival’s featured artist this year; he’ll be on hand to sign commemorative posters. A favorite of farm visitors throughout the year, the teahouse will serve gluten-free goodies, such as lavender scones and house-made gelato. Attendees can also cut their own lavender from a thousand plants in a U-Pick field, new for this year. Continue reading

Kyzer Farm

Kyzer Farms; (from left) Alice Kyzer; Robert and Paulina Kyzer in the Kyzer wheat field

Kyzer Farms; (from left) Alice Kyzer; Robert and Paulina Kyzer in the Kyzer wheat field

In all of my 10-plus years as a writer for Local Flavor, I’ve never been asked before if “I’d smelled the place” as I arrived for the interview. But I suppose pig farmers are particularly sensitive about that sort of thing, and Robert Kyzer of Kyzer Farm—in the agrarian-driven South Valley of Albuquerque—is no exception. Indeed, I hadn’t (and let it be known for the record I have a particularly keen sense of smell)—quite the opposite; Kyzer Farm is organized, clean and full of happy Berkshire, Red Duroc, Old English Spotted and York hogs. Robert’s father bought the farm in the 1970s to be in the horse business, raised six acres of alfalfa and ran it as a horse property until Robert took over in 1996. In those days, he says, everybody was growing alfalfa, and in order to make the farm more competitive and create a niche market, Robert bought 15 heritage sows and began the hog farm that he and his wife, Pauline, still run today.  

It was clear from the beginning they wanted the hogs to be raised in a more natural, sustainable manner—this practice, however, required research and ingenuity. Most piglets are weaned and put in a small pen once they reach 25 pounds in order to begin a grain diet, which quickly fattens them before processing and distribution. In farming, Robert says, “Time is money––so for most industrial farming, the faster you can grow the animal, the better.” Because these pigs are weaned early, they need to be given a battery of antibiotic shots to combat diseases and strengthen their immune systems (which is normally the job of their mother’s milk). But Robert and Pauline believed healthier, cleaner pigs would produce a more tasteful, nutrient-dense product, so they wanted to raise hogs that were free of antibiotics, early weaning and the stress of confinement. But they had to figure out how to get those first 15 to a place where they were strong enough not to need the antibiotics. Continue reading

Lone Mountain Cattle Company


Lone Mountain Wagyu Ranch

Lone Mountain Wagyu Ranch

What do the film The River Runs Through It and a heritage breed of Japanese cattle, prized for the marbling and flavor of its meat, have in common? That would be Robert “Bob” Estrin, who edited the former and now breeds the later. It’s the kind of career trajectory––from the editing rooms of Hollywood to a ranch in the rolling hills of Golden, New Mexico—that Bob never planned on. And yet, in a state known both for its frontier ranching heritage and a thriving television and film production industry, where the landscapes become setting for countless Western-themed narratives, the transition has a subtle and intuitive logic. It makes sense in New Mexico.

Lone Mountain Ranch has been in the family for over 50 years, purchased in 1965 by Marion and Glen Lloyd, parents of Bob’s wife Mary. After running the ranch for 20 years, Marion passed the reins to Bob; it was the right of passage of a family-run farm, as the next generation steps in to steer. That was 1995, and at the time, they were raising “regular” beef cattle.

Then Bob ate the steak that changed his life. It was his first Wagyu steak, and he was bowled over by the balance of rich umami and the tenderness that is characteristic of the meat. At the time, the ranch was recovering from a devastating drought in the early aughts that forced them to sell off much of the herd. He was searching for a way to keep the ranch sustainable. After tasting Wagyu, and seeing the premium price it commands, it occurred to Bob: “If they drank the same water and ate the same grass as my other cattle, why not raise Wagyu?” Continue reading

Hispano Homesteaders of Las Golondrinas

2015 Golondrinas Spring Festival

2015 Golondrinas Spring Festival

Welcome to El Rancho de las Golondrinas, where a journey through time takes you back to New Mexico’s Spanish Colonial and Territorial eras, revealing what life was like during the 18th and 19th centuries for Hispano homesteaders. You’ll meet farmers and millers, bakers and blacksmiths, along with spinners, sheep shearers, weavers, carpinteros and candle makers, all happy to demonstrate their work and wares as you stroll past and through historic buildings.

Learn how to string chiles for ristras, craft candles from bees wax, and card, spin and dye wool for weaving. Watch a blacksmith demonstrate the art of making nails, and a miller grind grain. Explore a farm filled with corn, beans and squash—or the “The Three Sisters,” as the Puebloans call them, because they help each other grow. You can also learn to grind corn and how to make tortillas and calabicitas, a dish that would have been on many kitchen tables back in the days.

Occupying 200 acres in a fertile farming valley, El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, or “Ranch of the Swallows,” preserves the heritage of Hispano homesteaders as a living historical farm, providing a bridge that links the past with the present. The site itself  dates to the early 1700s, when it served as a pajarete, or “resting place,” for weary travelers on El Camino Real, The Royal Road, connecting Mexico to Santa Fe. With its tall grasses and water, this oasis was the final stop before Santa Fe, and a welcome site for all, including New Mexico Governor Juan Bautista de Anza, who camped here with a military expedition of 150 men searching for a route into in Mexico in 1778. Today, descendants of the original Spanish settlers still live in the area. Continue reading

The Local Flavor Pantry

Learn more about Northern New Mexico’s local food growers, artisans, and vendors. Milk and honey, herbs and spices: New Mexico’s got it all! These businesses offer packaged local products, and they keep our farmers’ markets robust in every season.


Local Flavor Pantry - Local Food New MexicoBEES

Buckin’ Bee Honey
Buckin’ Bee is celebrating 14 years of keeping bees in Santa Fe! They sell honey, bee pollen, beeswax, candles, and lip balm. x Get healthy with their immune-boosting propolis tincture, a product of bee-collected resin from tree buds.

La Entrada Farms
La Entrada keeps a small number of hives in Corrales and North Valley. This is their third year selling honey and beeswax; they also supply bee cake. They look forward to beginning their harvest in mid-June.

Papa Bear’s Honey
Providing delicious, high-quality raw honey. Papa Bear’s Honey retains some of the pollen, which is rumored to reduce allergies locally. In Edgewood.

Zia Queen Bee Co.
Offering many varieties of honey based on the season and the diverse flora of the Rio Grande Valley. Zia Queen Bee Co. honey is pure, raw, and unfiltered. This farm in Truchas has creamed honey, beeswax, and lotions, salves, and lip balms augmented with native medicinal herbs. Continue reading