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Community Garden On Mesa

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Residents on Pajarito Mesa don’t have running water or electricity, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting to feel like a community.

The most recent effort is the installation of a community vegetable garden. The Pajarito Mesa Neighborhood Association, using a $10,000 grant from Bernalillo County, will work with Urban Store to plant, care for and hopefully harvest vegetables.

Urban Store owners and about 40 community members will meet Friday to plant the garden, made up of sections devoted to tomatoes, spinach, lettuce and squash. The store, which specializes in items that help gardeners grow organic fruits and vegetables in urban settings, is in Nob Hill.

Luz Maldonado, president of the neighborhood association, has lived on the mesa for 11 years. She and her husband have seven children, she said, and she chose the area because she was raised on a farm and never took to city life, and because the mesa offers her children more space to play. The family home uses solar power for electricity and a pump and tank for running water.

Although they have some modern-day amenities, Maldonado said feeling that her neighborhood is a community is just as important. She said the garden is another step in that direction.

“It gives us an opportunity to get to know each other better,” she said. “It’s something we can have in common and do together.”

Kathy Isaacson, co-owner of Urban Store, said they were happy to commit to the project. The company will offer guidance but residents will be responsible for planting, tending and harvesting the vegetables.

Maldonado said water for the garden will be purchased with donations. Because there is no municipal water system on Pajarito Mesa, people buy water from a local filling station, $9 for 1,000 gallons, and transport it to their homes.

The garden will be next to the filling station.

There will be an educational component to the garden, as well. The store staff will teach composting, organic gardening and cooking with organic vegetables.

Maldonado said the garden would be a good way to help people save money while still giving them an opportunity to eat healthy.
— This article appeared on page 1 of the West Side Journal