Restoring land productivity by re-establishing critical ecosystem services.

"Craig Sponholtz and Watershed Artisans blends art and science to create beautiful and functional approaches to restoring damaged land. Watershed Artisans applies agroecological principles to transform eroding gullies and barren landscapes into lush islands of native vegetation that are not only aesthetically pleasing, and also capable of feeding people and wildlife."

-Dr. Craig Conley PhD, Natural Resources Management New Mexico Highlands University

Agro-ecology is typically thought of as the science of bringing ecological services into agricultural systems. Many traditional farming practices emphasized the seamless blending of agriculture into native ecosystems. Watershed Artisans practices agro-ecological restoration, the thoughtful cultivation of degraded landscapes, as a means of restoring the land and our own harmonious relationship with natural systems.

Collaborative, community-based work like the Ojo Encino Floodwater Farming Project gets to the heart of what agro-ecological restoration is all about. This project brings together the people of Ojo Encino with The Quivira Coalition (a Santa Fe based conservation group), West Construction and Dryland Solutions to address severe land degradation and a scarcity of locally grown and nutritious foods. With the help of community elders, we first identified abandoned floodwater farm fields that had a high potential to be restored to agricultural production. Much of the restoration work involved re-contouring the farm fields to distribute runoff. The example shown above included re-shaping the field to eliminate the detrimental effects of years of improper plowing, as well as the construction of rock mulch Media Lunas to spread runoff across the newly shaped field.  Infiltration basins were constructed on the downslope side of the field to maximize the use of runoff for food production. The infiltration basins were planted with fruit trees, as well as trees and shrubs to provide a windbreak for the field. In the first year (with marginal rains) this field produced a small crop of corn and ceremonial tobacco. With recently obtained grant funding and the help of the local farmers association called Hasbidito, we will continue to restore fields, harvest runoff and grow food for the community. We hope to increase the diversity of crops grown and actively improve the soil with biologically appropriate composts and compost tea applications.


505 577-9625
1000 Cordova Pl., #832
Santa Fe, NM, 87505