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Monday, October 31, 2011

Return of the Corn (at Taos Pueblo)


The roads that wind across the Taos Pueblo reservation pass through a cultural and environmental mosaic of a type common in the rural West, where natural beauty and human poverty overlap and sometimes blend. Here is a thicket of wild plums growing up along a lush irrigation ditch, the Sangre de Cristo mountains rising up as backdrop. Here is a tiny stuccoed house, accompanied by an old Chevy Chevelle that appears to be slowly melting into the shrubs and dirt. Nearby, a burned out, roofless shack sits undisturbed while a Rez dog, his thick fur dreadlocked with dirt and neglect, rambles in the dust alongside Deer Jaw road.

Occasionally, this intruder notices a shock of bright green. Each one is a cornfield, the maturing stalks emerald in the sunlight. It's surprising because after World War II many farmers in Taos Pueblo and in other parts of the West gave up traditional farming.

But farming, including corn growing, is slowly coming back to the Pueblo thanks to grassroots efforts that have sprouted over the last decade,  such as the sustainable agriculture initiative and the Red Willow growers cooperative. Now, the return of the corn is also being helped along by a couple of guys who were looking for changes in their own lives, and by an old tractor named the Red Buffalo.

Read the rest of this post here.

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