Today & Tomorrow
It is so important for us to be responsible stewards of the land entrusted to us by Arthur Pack, that the ranch is environmentally healthy and sustainable, and that the community grazing program assists ranchers in need in subsequent grazing seasons. As resources permit, the garden is used to model xeriscape and high desert irrigation, and to teach youth about organic farming. Currently there are chickens, churro sheep and burros that walk the land. We would also like to introduce bees and goats into the farm.
We are working towards the capability to harvest water from most of the buildings, and using that water to enhance the health of the landscape. Our long-term sustainability goals also include taking the ranch off the grid by using solar electricity, and introducing bees and goats to the farm. A site plan in progress is addressing the need for building restoration and new structures to be green.
In 2013, we installed The Peace garden which includes a mural, a fountain, a rock sculpture, flowers and grasses and a peace pole. The fountain uses rainwater harvested from the roof and is powered by a small solar panel.
- Volunteer on the Farm – Ghost Ranch thrives on its volunteers; there are many opportunities in the area of sustainability and the farm. Annually the volunteer season runs from March 1 to November 1.
- Youth Service Corps – Youth Service Corps works with local farmers, helping them clean ditches, weed and harvest. They also perform service by helping maintenance staff with landscaping and other beautification projects around the ranch.
- College staff – Two to three summer college staff work in the sustainability department. Their jobs include, recycling, landscaping, irrigation projects, erosion control, trail maintenance, composting and working on the farm.
We have a flock of chickens and a herd of churro sheep famous for their wool. We share the eggs from the chickens with the staff, and give the wool from the sheep to Española Valley Fiber Arts, a weaving cooperative.
Our community grazing program provides land to ranchers for their cattle at low cost.
In 2013, we introduced the Ghost Ranch Community Camp. The camp is for northern New Mexico children and youth, ages 3-18. During Ghost Ranch Community Camp, youth explore the theme of “Leadership in the Southwest.”
Youth participate in activities to improve leadership skills through service projects, swimming, hiking, art, music-making, canoeing, kayaking and challenge courses. Our trained and enthusiastic college staff with guidance of professional educators work hands-on with all participants.
FARM TO TABLE
Since the flood of 2015, we have not been able to irrigate a garden but this important component of Ghost Ranch learning will return as drought conditions subside and other resources allow. When the garden is fully nurtured and staffed, we would like to grow spinach, lettuce, peas, cilantro, carrots, kale, swiss chard, beets, turnips, orach, amaranth, sunflowers, corn, squash, beans, cucumbers, melons, peppers, apricots, apples, pears, cherries, and peaches.
During the growing and harvest seasons, a portion of our produce could be delivered to the kitchen and highlighted in the meals we serve to our guests, farm to table.
Each summer, there is ongoing soil maintenance and planting rotation, and each year our goal is to add more fruit trees.
HIGH DESERT EDUCATION FARM in the plan
Water is life. Agua es Vida.The Box Canyon spring waters the landscape but in drought years, although water flows through the ranch, the rights to use it fully belong to senior users according to New Mexico acequia law. The landscape includes several orchards, buffalo blue gramma grass lawns, flowerbeds and the farm.
When water is available, we water an 18-acre mixed grass field that was originally an alfalfa field. Ghost Ranch has an efficient wetland pond ecosystem that recycles all our grey water.
The horses at Ghost Ranch provide the farm with fertilizer which is also used in our composting system. The farm uses no chemical fertilizers or pesticides and is GMO free. We collect seeds from all our produce to continue the legacy of our Ghost Ranch seed bank.
The High Desert Education Farm’s (High D.E.F.) focus is educating guests, especially youth, about growing foods in this climate. We hope to return to this model as water and resources allow.