By Wes Medlock, Program Specialist, New Farmer Network
Do you have land you want farmed in North Western New Mexico? Are you a farmer looking for land? Well, we’re the matchmakers for you. New Mexico State University San Juan County Cooperative Extension is thrilled to announce its Northwest New Mexico New Farmer Network! Offering resources, technical assistance and support, the San Juan County Cooperative Extension office is here to navigate this process for both landowners and the land seeking farmers.
Today, our local food systems face several obstacles, such as: an aging farmer population, difficulties that new farmers have acquiring land, and the assistance along the way to facilitate the leasing processes. These are just some of the challenges that the New Farmer Network will serve to alleviate. Our mission is to break down the barriers between the farmers and the farm. Our goal is to facilitate 15 new farm lease agreements over the next two years by fostering communications between the landowner and the farmer and aggregating resources to aid in the leasing process. Working with NMSU Extension, NWNM Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter, and the Harvest Food Hub in Farmington, the network will provide technical assistance on specialty crop production and marketing in the region.
The New Farmer Network is utilizing Land Link NM’s user-friendly website for landowners to post their farmland or property acreage to advertise to new and transitioning farmers. The farmers can then post what kind of land requirements they are looking for. Land leasing agreements can be complicated and time consuming. We’re here to help guide that process from developing the relationship between the landowner and the farmer, all the way to signing the dotted line. Currently, the NWNM New Farmer Network is exclusive to San Juan County and is specifically geared towards specialty crops (fruits & veggies, floriculture, agroforestry, nursery plants, mushrooms, etc.) While this program encourages all landowners and farmers to participate, our target audience for outreach will include Diné farmers, minority farmers, women farmers, and disabled veteran farmers.
The New Farmer Network is excited to have Wes Medlock as the new program specialist. Wes is a graduate from Appalachian State University with a background in Sustainable Development. Wes has a heart for food, farmers, and the land in which it grows. He has been with many nonprofits and various local food initiatives and serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors at Durango Natural Foods to help provide a viable market for local farmers. One of Wes’ main focuses will be to develop meaningful and genuine relationships with the landowners and the new farmers, and he hopes to see the New Farmer Network be the seed that grows our beloved food system and cultivates our food future.
If you are a landowner, farmer looking for land, or a potential program resource, please don’t hesitate to email Wes at wmedlock@NMSU.edu or give him a call at (505) 609-8086.