If you’ve wandered on the Downtown Mall and wondered who from Farmer’s Market has spread their crops in the decorative planters that line the street, know that it’s a local organization which is attempting to draw in local urban farmers to partake in their Adopt-a-Pot program.
Working with the Las Cruces city government, La Semilla Food Center is encouraging those who might not have access to a yard of their own to experience the joys of farming. Their Adopt-a-Pot program lets individuals, families, groups, or businesses adopt a city planter on Main Street between Griggs and Las Cruces Avenues. Only a year into the program, about half of the 100 planters are filled with more than just colorful flowers that the city traditionally plants. Now, visitors to downtown might see a head of cabbage starting to sprout, or a variety fresh herbs nestled between green tomatoes.
Krysten Aguilar, food planning and policy specialist for La Semilla, said that the city’s Parks and Recreation department has been a great help to set the program in motion. Aguilar says that La Semilla hopes to increase the visibility of urban agriculture in Las Cruces. The Adopt-a-Pot program was kicked off in 2014 with Project Mainstreet and has been steadily picking up steam. So much so, that local business Horse N’ Hound has also helped offer up different transplants for free to those interested in maintaining a pot. Aguilar says that all that’s asked from adopters is for them to come to two working days a year organized by La Semilla and periodically look in on their planter for maintenance. Water is already supplied by the city.
La Semilla Food Center is an organization which aids in growing a sustainable food system in the Paso del Norte region. In its fifth year, La Semilla has various programs, from helping local farmers get their food in stores, to educating young students in sustainable farming with programs such as school gardens. La Semilla has youth workers on their 14-acre community farm just outside Anthony, New Mexico, enabling the next generation to get a larger look at the ins and outs of farming.
La Semilla also shepherds initiatives to get legislators to include urban farming as a valuable asset to a city’s infrastructure. Aguilar says La Semilla is working on a larger policy project with the city of Las Cruces to include language for including incentives for sustainable farming in the city.
The Las Cruces Urban Agriculture and Food Policy Plan, currently a 50-page document, would state the city’s support of urban agriculture with fair zoning codes and an eye on water harvesting to allow people to grow and process food in town. “It’s been great to see a shift in just raised awareness,” said Aguilar. “Policy makers are paying attention.”
Aguilar mentions that they hope their website will soon have an interactive map of the planters so that adopting can be made even easier and allowing people to claim the exact location they’d like. She mentioned they are also working on getting signs in the planters; she hopes for more that have puns. “Like, ‘Take the Thyme’,” laughed Aguilar.
Which, leads to the question of whether or not people might decide to pilfer the fresh food out of the planters. Aguilar says that it’s possible, but, most adopters would rather have food go to someone who might need it than to let the food rot on the vine.
If you’re interested in adopting your own pot, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about La Semilla Food Center, go to their website, lasemillafoodcenter.org.