¡Hasta luego Val!

Saying farewell to one of our Farm Park familia…

Valentina Valdez, known to the Rio Grande Farm Park team as Val, has been part of our farmily for the past two years. In the past year, she has been our co-director along with Seth Armentrout. Born and grazed in La Jara, Val is passionate about the San Luis Valley, its food systems, its land, and most importantly, its people.

Her passion was evident in the work she did here at the park to support our farmers and their crops, and in the care she put into the curriculum she created for our high school youth program, Rising Stewards. Over the course of the summer, a group of youth traveled across the Valley and Nothern New Mexico to learn about traditional foodways like acequia farming and horno cooking, learned new foodways like solar cooking, and stewarded their own plot of land here at the Rio Grande Farm Park. They learned about native herbs and plant medicine from Teresa Vigil, an herbalist in San Luis.

It’s tough to describe the impact Val has had. She left behind seeds for the Farm Park to grow into a true beacon for regional food sovereignty. She brought a coherent vision and dynamic talent, with the major highlight being leading the Farm Park’s own thoughtful educational experience for high schoolers: Rising Stewards. She moved dials across the board, working diligently with staff and community partners to achieve our goals related to cold storage, season extension, organic certification research, farmer and youth education, the Mercadillo en Rio, and cooperative development. She leaves the Farm Park having helped it grow as an innovative educational institution and producer for high value markets. While she leaves us with an inspiring vision for equity, she also leaves us with many belly laughs. Personally, I will carry the lessons from our Co-Directorship with me the rest of my life. Thank you for everything Val!

~Seth Armentrout, Director at RGFP

Val worked to ensure our farm was equipped with a cold storage, to support the Mercadillo en el Rio, to bring the best vibes to all of our park endevors, and so, so much more. As she closes a chapter here at the Farm Park, she will leave a lasting imprint on this land and our team. Thank you, Val. We hope that everything you touch is blessed, and we’re honored to have worked and built alongside you.

What’s Next?

It is estimated that there are only 59 landrace varieties of corn left in Mexico, the international origin place of this plant. With the introduction of mono agriculture and GMO economics into Mexico, we have lost a great deal of biodiversity, some of which will never be recovered. As a result, the majority of the corn eaten by society at large has deviated from the heirloom corn of our ancestors. the impact of this on our health is immense. This is particularly true for those of us who are of Mexican ancestry, which is a lot of us in this community. My efforts this winter are to try to tangibly reconnect with these indigenous varieties of corn across the country of Mexico as well as regionally stewarded heirloom varieties that have no place on the economic stage of our world but deserve a place in our hearts. It is a pilgrimage to rekindle my own relationship with not only the plant that is revered for its contribution to human progress, but the communities who have protected it, and the spirit of those who came before me but that I do not know.

It’s estimated that there are only 59 landrace varieties of corn left in Mexico.

From Val:

Muchas gracias to my RGFP familia for the time we have shared building what we did this year! The time went by so fast and I am so proud of everything we’ve done together and what you will all continue to do as individuals to bring about more justice, peace and healthy food in our world. I will look back on my time here at the SLVLFC as a time of immense growth and learning and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Valentina Valdez