Angel Fire Garden group seeks funding for nonprofit status filing

By Eric Heinz<br />Staff writer

By Eric Heinz<br />Staff writer

ANGEL FIRE — Before a new community garden group breaks ground, organizers want to receive nonprofit status in order to collect donations.

Janet Sailor, coordinator of the group, is making an effort to collect $850 in donations to file for the status. After that happens, the group plans to break ground on land behind the Cove Arts Center, located along Crestview Drive just north of Angel Fire Resort on the west side of N.M. Highway 434.

The area is planned to include garden beds, cash crops, a compost center, underground green houses and a farmers market area where people could sell the goods they grow. The spaces are planned to be open to the public to rent for a small fee, which is to be determined.

There also are preliminary plans to establish an apiary and a dog park in the land available the garden area. Because of the large area of land available to the community garden, there is more room to expand on the preliminary plans outlined in the map provided by Sailor. 

“We’ve got some people who said they would donate wood chips and some logs coming in,” Sailor told the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle in a phone interview May 1. “Somebody has donated tomato cages, and we have some people who are willing to donate equipment or help for a day.”

Sailor said the idea is to get as many people working on the garden to reduce expenses and volunteer hours for everyone. 

Being able to market the garden as a tourist attraction also could help increase participation, Sailor said.

“What I think is particularly wonderful is everyone coming to town or leaving is going to be able to see it,” she said. “I think it can be a real model for other towns. It is big and ambitious; it is going to be an ongoing process, and with the space we have it may not be filled for four to five years.”

Although Sailor has comprised a three-phase plan for the garden, the project is still in its infancy.

“All these things are subject to change,” she said. 

In order to keep portions of the community garden sustainable, Sailor said she would like to implement solar power to generate the water needed for the greenhouses. The underground greenhouses will allow for year-round growing, even at 8,500 feet above sea level.

“We’re not looking at a lot of expenses, and the work will be all-volunteer,” Sailor said. “My goal is to get eight to 16 beds put together this year in May, and in June we’d like to plant some things. We’re proceeding because I have trust and faith in these people, and I don’t see any reason it won’t happen.”

Sailor said about a decade ago she tried to establish a community garden, but the interest wasn’t enough to keep the plans afloat.

“Everything in this garden is new, but everything we do is like we’re inventing it as we go along,” Sailor said.

The garden also could serve as an educational tool for students, Sailor said.

“Wherever I’ve lived I’ve always had dirt to plant,” she said. “Growing your own food is a fun thing to do but also a practical and healthy thing to do. So it was kind of right time, right place.”