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Sanchez Farm is a 14-acre property located at 1180 Arenal Road SW. This property was historically in agriculture production, owned and farmed by the Sanchez family for more than 300 years before the county's Public Works division purchased it to serve as a storm drainage facility.

Currently the property has developed to provide important ecological functions with an established wetlands and bioswales to mitigate water pollution. Additionally, the site is community farmed with extensive educational programming for all ages led by the La Plazita Institute (LPI).  Open Space staff and LPI have worked with The Recuerda a César Chávez Committee since 2010 to organize a large-scale César Chávez Day of Service where hundreds of students come to the farm to learn about César Chávez and participate in hands-on farming.

Planning and Management

Sanchez Farm was purchased in the late 1990s by the county's Public Works division for a storm drainage facility location that was needed as part of Phase I Isleta Boulevard road and drainage improvements. South Valley residents were interested in how both the road and drainage system would be designed and built and were active in the design process. They didn’t want a stand-alone drainage facility that would be a big hole in the ground, but rather an appropriate joint use facility that could enhance economic activities, historic character, neighborhood values, and quality of life. These considerations, along with the engineering needs for drainage and transportation, led to a final pond design that would allow farming to occur in the drainage basin. Public Works asked Open Space to take over management of this property in 2007, shortly after the completion of Phase I Isleta construction. This request was honored and the property was incorporated into the Open Space inventory.
 
The goal is for Sanchez Farm is to serve as a safe community space for recreational, educational, wildlife habitat, and farming activities while not interfering with its primary function as a storm drainage facility. Open Space entered into a contractual arrangement in 2009 with La Plazita Institute to farm the land. LPI has an extensive educational outreach program geared toward youth and families who have fallen through the cracks of conventional institutional support. They serve youth in custody and those previously incarcerated, gang-involved youth, and returning veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in order to offer opportunities to engage positively with the larger community.
 
LPI has several parciantes who farm plots within Sanchez Farm and grow a variety of crops. LPI’s mission, human outreach, and internal resources make them an ideal partner for Bernalillo County to work with on organizing events and activities at the site. LPI has secured a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve and enhance site vegetation in the low-lying portions of the site, as well as along the side slopes, where wildlife habitat enhancement is taking place. As a drainage site, several best management practices are in place to ensure that storm water is as clean as possible before it is discharged from the site to the Rio Grande.

Current Projects

Bernalillo County Open Space, LPI, and Weston Solutions completed a site enhancement plan at the end of 2011 geared toward site safety, education and wayfinding, and site amenities. These improvements raise the profile of the property and explain its function to the community, many of whom are unclear about the County/LPI partnership in managing the land and developing appropriate programming for the public. This master plan also enables Bernalillo County to program future funds for the implementation of the master plan over the next several years. Parts of the plan have been implemented this year, including leveling the lower fields, adding soil amendments, and installing additional irrigation pipes to aid in flood irrigation. Additional improvements will be phased into completed throughout 2013-2014.

Resources

Master Naturalist Aaron Coffeen created a plant guide for Sanchez Farm as part of his service project. Click here to download the guide, Sanchez Farm Plant Guide.

For additional information, contact the Open Space Coordinator at (505)314-0400 or email calangan@bernco.gov.

 

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