This session will provide a state-level case study from New Mexico highlighting systemic efforts centered on equity, shared power, and direct representation to transform the local food ecosystem. Presenters will discuss efforts to facilitate market opportunities for smaller-scale farmers – primarily through values-based institutional purchasing – while simultaneously providing fresh, local food to lower-income populations in rural, frontier, urban, and tribal regions across the state. This work has been resourced through public-private partnerships, direct support of advocacy to increase state legislative funding for local purchasing, and investments in Value Chain Coordination positions and other human capital needed to strengthen the food system. As a result, New Mexico Grown for Schools, Senior Centers, and Early Childhood Sites and Double Up Food Bucks have emerged as instruments critical to the evolution of the local food ecosystem. Through this session, funders will therefore learn about a place-based model that could be applicable in other contexts.
Bryan Crawford-Garrett is the Food and Agriculture Policy Officer at the Thornburg Foundation and has been in this position since September 2017. In this role, he manages the Foundation’s Food and Agriculture strategy and grantmaking portfolio. Bryan has nearly 20 years of experience working to strengthen local food and agricultural systems – in New Mexico as well as in numerous countries throughout the world. Prior to working with Thornburg, Bryan was a consultant to non-profits and funders for five years. He has also worked for several years in leadership positions with international NGOs.
Kendal Chavez is the Healthy Schools Coordinator for the New Mexico Public Education Department. In partnership with rural, urban, and tribal school and school district entities, she works to deepen the impact of coordinated school health programs in New Mexico schools. Chavez is also an alumna of FoodCorps’ AmeriCorps service program and George Washington University’s Food Policy Fellowship Institute. Chavez is currently studying public policy and public administration at the University of New Mexico.
Helga Garza is Executive Director of Agri-Cultura Cooperative Network (ACN), a South Valley of Albuquerque farmer-owned cooperative. The network is inclusive of 32 allied farms from urban and rural Rio Grande communities committed to sustainable and regenerative growing methods. Helga is inspired by justice, guided by her ancestral ceremonial agricultural calendar, and engages community through a holistic intergenerational approach in developing a sustainable and equitable food system that is supportive of an environmental economy and community-driven markets. Helga is leading efforts that have increased equitable access to healthy local food, by removing structural barriers such as price, availability, policy climate, and increasing nutritional knowledge through curriculum development of a holistic family-based wellness program that is bilingual, culturally relevant, and community-based. Through these efforts, Helga is building the capacity of New Mexico’s urban and rural small farmers ability to keep production local through an effective farm-to-market system that ensures household livelihood, positive health outcomes, economic activity and community wellbeing. Helga is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader 2018-2021, Castanea Fellow 2020 – 2021, Governing Board Chair of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, and Board President of South Valley Main St.
Alma Maquitico is an agroe-cological trainer working towards equity in the food system. Alma has worked extensively with small-scale farmers in southern New Mexico and west Texas by bringing them together to produce, aggregate, and market their goods for neighborhood-scale efforts and institutional wholesale buyers. Her experience is centered
in developing models to help primarily migrant and small-scale growers
overcome barriers of scale, means, skill, and language. As part of a
team that leads the Anthony Youth Farm, Alma serves as a farmer-trainer and coordinator, providing leadership and sustainable agricultural training to low-income youth. The Anthony Youth Farm runs a subsidized fresh food distribution program for rural communities facing chronic food inequities in southern New Mexico.
Denise Miller has been the executive directive of the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association (NMFMA) since 2005. Denise directs the NMFMA’s wide-ranging food value chain activities devoted to programs, projects, and resources that help New Mexico farmers and food producers improve profitability, and that improve the nutritional health of communities across the state. Denise has helped grow the NMFMA from state-registered non-profit with a $200,000 annual budget to a 501c3 organization now managing more than $2 million in 2021, much of which is pass-thru funds for food incentive programs, farmer grants, and partner resources. Denise previously worked in marketing for a variety of corporate, small business, and non-profit organizations. Denise received her BA in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MA from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM.