The High Desert Education Farm (High D.E.F)
Water is the key element at the Ranch, without water Ghost Ranch could not exist. No Farming, No Farmers, No Food. The Box Canyon spring waters the landscape. The landscape includes several orchards, buffalo blue gramma grass lawns, flowerbeds and the farm. We also water an 18 acre mixed grass field that was originally an alfalfa field. Ghost Ranch has an efficient wetland pond ecosystem that recycles all of our grey water.
The High Desert Education Farm’s (High D.E.F.) main focus is educating guests, especially youth, on growing foods in this particular climate. 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 of our produce to continue the legacy of our Ghost Ranch seed bank.
Farm to Table
During the growing and harvest seasons, a portion of our produce is delivered to the kitchen and is highlighted in the meals we serve to our guests.
Some of the vegetables and fruits we 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.
Ghost Ranch recently planted lavender acquired from the local lavender farm. This is the beginning of an herb garden at the farm which will augment our farm to table initiative.
Ghost Ranch also has a very thorough recycling program. We recycle all our glass, cardboard, plastic and metal wastes.
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.
Each summer, there is ongoing trail maintenance, and each year we are adding more fruit trees.
We have a flock of chickens and a herd of sheep. We share the eggs from the chickens with the staff, and send the wool from the sheep to a local woolen mill.
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”. They participate in activities to improve leadership skills through swimming, hiking, art, music making, canoeing and kayaking and challenge courses. Our trained and enthusiastic college staff with guidance of professional educators work hands-on with all participants.
Ghost Ranch initiated two studies conducted on its property; the findings in their entirety are posted here. The decision to suspend cattle grazing for the 2013-2014 winter season was made, in part, because of these findings. This suspension is still in place for 2015.
While the Ranch is committed to community outreach, as evidenced by its support of scores of schools, churches, clinics, food banks, art studios and other community events, and by its growth in the Community Swim Program, Community Day Camp, Youth Art Institute, Museum School Science Programs, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Partnership, Youth Service Corps and local employment, it is imperative that we are 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.
Debra Hepler, Executive Director
The future projects and ideas we would like to see come to fruition are, water harvesting from most of the buildings, utilizing the water to enhance the health of the landscape. Ghost Ranch is also hoping to be off the grid with solar electricity at some point. We would also like to introduce bees and goats into the farm . “Hello farm, I’m Bee and this is my friend Goat, we would like to become part of your family!”- Eric Garretson.
Volunteering 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.
Our Youth Service Corps
Youth Service Corp. works with local farmers, helping them clean ditches, weed and harvest. They also perform service by helping maintenance with landscaping and other beautifaction projects around the Ranch.
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.