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Gardens and Orchards and Pollinators Oh My!

Who knew that having a passion for urban gardening, feeding the soil, supporting local economies and improving wildlife habitat worked so well together? Our community vision includes being ecologically friendly and living sustainably. Naturally, we attract people to Cohousing ABQ who love caring for the land, growing and preparing food, and learning from one another how to be good stewards of the land now, and into the future.

The 3.7 acre site for our community has been unused since the 1930s. Soil needs feeding to be good for growing orchards and gardens, (and happy frolicking children.) Thankfully we have an active and skilled cohousing membership including master gardeners, landscape architects, permaculture students, compost aficionados and water catchment enthusiasts. The combined knowledge and passion comes together in our circle meetings to help us organize time on the land to start feeding the soil through composting, clearing debris, and consolidating garden and landscaping details.

One of our landscaping aims is to attain certifications including National Wildlife Federation and Backyard Refuge Garden and we are working with the Native Plant Society of NM and our Rio Grande neighbor - Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. These landscaping choices attract pollinators including butterflies, bees and bats . Orchards will include the usual favorites, like apples, and the less usual, like figs and pomegranates, with grapevines and berry plantings filling out the collection. Yum yum.

During covid we concentrated on building healthy soil. We constructed composting bins, chipping leaves and branches, and planning worm farms. Plus being on the land gave us a chance to wave “Hello Neighbor” over the fence. With a shade sail set up, we had a spot to take breaks and be a bit social and admire what we were accomplishing—all while respecting the 6’ physical distancing guidelines. The finished compost was then worked into the soil surface under the mature cottonwood tree in the middle of our land.

This summer we will be taking a break from soil building to make room for construction. But we can rest assured that the large cottonwood tree will be healthy and nourished until our return.

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