Over the last few years, the Questa Farmers Market site, adjacent to the Questa Visitor Center, has become a welcoming place for the community to gather. It includes a demonstration garden, a place where community members, including youth, can plant, tend, and gather produce and flowers throughout the garden season.
Gaea McGahee, Farmers Market Director, along with many volunteers and interns have planted trees, built shade structures, created art, and made other improvements. It keeps getting better and better and, being in the middle of town, you could say it has become the heart of the community in many ways.
Now, the Questa Farmers Market has a swale that is irrigated by the local acequia bringing seasonal running water to the market area. It includes a new culvert that runs beneath a driveway after it passes under Cabresto Road. It brings water from the acequia madre that runs along the east side of Hwy 522 from the Cabresto Watershed to Cabresto Ditch No 3, also called Acequia de la Plaza.
The swale also catches storm drainage when not moving water from the ditch. There are new fruit trees running along the acequia which may be extended to water other trees already planted. More trees may be added, growing shade for market vendors and visitors.
The water from the acequia passes through Estevan Rael Galvez’s historic property where it is also used to irrigate a historic orchard and the grandfather apricot tree, which is thought to be the oldest apricot tree in New Mexico. The water will also be used to irrigate future fruit trees in a planned community orchard and vegetable garden. It will contribute to the creation and expansion of the community space which will eventually include a dye garden, vegetable garden, and orchard at the farmers market.
Artist Scott Sutton studied landscape architecture and refers to what he does as ecological design. He has helped with the Questa Mural Project, the design of Questa’s youth-led Skatepark, and a site plan for the future development of the park at the Questa Library/Youth and Family Center. Scott has brought the acequia to life with the help of Gaea McGahee, Malaquias Rael, and Danny Garcia from the Questa Acequia Association, which provided the necessary documents showing the historical use of water rights on the property and enabling the activation of them for use at the farmers market.
A Questa Farmers Market Instagram post recognized those who made this possible: “Thank you to all who helped to get the water flowing on this land again! And trees planted, too. This was all made possible by a huge effort from people across the community and afar; youth energy from Vida del Norte Coalition Interns and Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch camp kids; community volunteers, Questa Farmers Market interns, QFM mentors, Scott Sutton and Jesse Hardy. Plus, Questa Lumber and the support of the Questa Economic Development Fund, LANL Foundation, Taos Community Foundation, and many more. Especially people who raised the trees up, may they thrive!”
The addition of the water element to the market plaza, reminds us that agua es vida, so welcome in the high desert of New Mexico!