GALLUP – The Navajo Nation is a vast “food desert” with the majority of Dine’ people having little or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables or other healthy food.

navajo gardeningSinnery Lynne Begay looks at a spiral garden at the Sheep Spring Senior Citizen Center demonstration garden. The garden is being created to demonstrate how to raise vegetables to help address the food insecurity and poor health of Dine' people of the Navajo Nation. New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service is supporting community leaders and families in the U.S. Highway 491 corridor, from Gallup to Shiprock, in grassroot projects, such as Cultivating Navajo Success, to address this need. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)Since 2015, New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service has been working with community leaders and families in the U.S. Highway 491 corridor, from Gallup to Shiprock, to address issues of food insecurity and poor health.

The region includes roughly 2,500 Navajo families living in rural communities organized as chapter houses. The majority of the families have limited access to healthy food due to their low income and geographical isolation.

Two Navajo corporations – Navajo Transitional Energy Company and Navajo Agricultural Products Industry – have donated funds through the NMSU Foundation for the Navajos Cultivating Success program, which will teach and demonstrate growing fruits and vegetables to Navajo residents.

NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and Dine’ College, the Navajo Nation land-grant college, will provide technical assistance during the program.

“The Navajos Cultivating Success project is a continuation of the Market Connect project that was introduced in 2017,” said Michael Patrick, NMSU Extension community resource and economic development specialist. “During the Market Connect project we introduced backyard gardening to 12 families, a school and a community chapter house. The goal was to have these families sell their produce at growers’ markets.”

Unfortunately, extreme hot and dry weather, limited water resources and rodents resulted in total crop failure for six of the family gardens and the school garden. The remaining six families and the community garden were able to salvage a portion of their crops to be sold at farmers’ markets held at chapter houses in the region.

“The participating gardeners sold all of their produce within the first hour,” Patrick said. “They could have doubled their sales if they had more produce. This limited beginning, however, demonstrated there is interest in growing and consuming fresh vegetables and fruit in the region.”

Through the field coordination of Sharon Sandman, a Navajo community leader and gardener, the Navajos Cultivating Success project will facilitate increased access to healthy and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables through establishing gardens at three schools, two senior centers and one family’s backyard.

The gardens will be at the Twin Lake Senior Citizens Center, Tohatchi Senior Citizens Center, Ch’ooshgai Community School in Tohatchi, Newcomb Elementary School, Sanostee Day School and the Burbank family home at Buffalo Springs. 

“The gardeners will participate in six workshops designed to increase their likelihood of success,” said Sandman. “The topics will include soil health, composting, weed and pest control, seed selection, planting and record keeping, irrigation and water conservation, food safety, harvesting and seed saving, and marketing and value-added activities.”

The family, school and senior center gardeners will also participate in group listening and sharing sessions, regarding their challenges, successes and best practices.

“These sessions will be great opportunities to facilitate communication across generations – seniors, parents and students – and strengthen intergenerational ties,” Sandman said.

Navajo Cultivating Success is being viewed as a pilot demonstration project that can be replicated across the Navajo Nation.

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

Check out a new column that will talk about the town of Silver City and its news and services. 

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as the editor.

Classifieds: Check periodically to see if any news ones have popped up. Welcome to our new version of classified ads.  We invite you our readers to post your own classifieds, which are available for viewing 24/7 and are very reasonable in price, because you do all the work yourselves. A recent classified for a van brought a sale within two days. It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. It's a software problem, not easily fixable, other than showing fewer articles per summary page. If you are a frequent visitor, you might not mind fewer articles per page, but if you only come once in a while, you likely want to see more articles to browse. Write me at editor@grantcountybeat.com to let me know your feelings on this issue. 

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include one about end of life options, Compassionate Care.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Newsletter: If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com