The location is unusual for a farm – most farms bringing produce to market in Santa Fe are based in the valleys just north of town – Dixon, Alcalde, Velarde, Pojoaque – and south along the greenbelt of Cerrillos. But Glorieta is surprisingly well suited to growing. The micro-climate and geographic qualities of the mountain pass result in a higher annual rainfall than other nearby regions, a benefit that Aimee, originally from the water-rich Northwest, is keen to maximize. All irrigation is supplied from over 6,000 gallons of rain catchment cisterns. For Amy, whose greenhouse is akin to a sanctuary and whose approach to gardening borders on meditative practice, “water from the sky”, rather than drilled from the ground, is central to her grower’s philosophy.
When that rain turns to snow, greens are grown in a beautifully designed 30’x60’ passive solar greenhouse. Funded in part through a loan from the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute and designed and constructed by her builder husband, the structure is typically a good ten degrees warmer than outside. Large leafy greens are insulated in the warmer ground, and covered at night.
The microgreens are grown in a peat medium in flats. Aimee has been experimenting with a coco-peat medium made from coconut husks, in an effort to minimize the depletion of sphagnum peat moss bogs. She explained something I hadn’t known previously: peat moss is mined by scraping off the top layer of living sphagnum moss in bogs, which destroys fragile habitats, and the process of restoring bogs is slow. It’s interesting to consider – notions of “healthy food” are so often focused on the benefits to the eater. Even when we eat well, it’s essential to understand the environmental and socio-economic impact of our choices.
And microgreens are the epitome of eating well: research has shown that these tender leaves have 4-6 times higher concentrations of key nutrients – Vitamins A, C and E, and carotenoids – than mature leaves of the same plant. The magic to this nutritional concentration are the cotyledon, tiny leaves which are the embryonic first leaves of a plant, and contain all the energy and nutrients needed to grow the mature plant. The decision to grow mircogreens is both practical and intuitive – given the modest growing areas she has, small makes big sense. And for Aimee microgreens symbolize “living food”. As someone who has studied birthing and midwifery in addition to being a farmer, and a mother of two, nurturing life is central to everything she does.
You can taste Aimee’s healthy microgreens and other crops in your weekly Blossom Bag, Squash Blossom Local Food founder, Nina Yozell-Epstein says, “We’re thrilled to carry Three Sisters Farm produce, especially in these winter months. Having the vibrant, vital, nutritious greens and herbs keeps our spirits up and our patrons healthy!”
You can see more photographs of Three Sisters Farm on my website at: http://gabriellamarksphotography.com/three-sisters-farm