UNESCO World Heritage Site Taos Pueblo is known internationally for its culture and beauty. More than 150 Taos Pueblo members choose to live traditionally year-round in its iconic adobe structures without plumbing or electricity as has been done for more than 1,000 years. Thousands of tourists visit Taos Pueblo every year to learn about Taos Pueblo culture, purchase micaceous pottery and enjoy fry bread, roasted corn and other traditional food.
Taos means Place of the Red Willow in Tiwa, and since time immemorial its members have farmed surrounding fields, learning how to produce crops at 7,200 feet above sea level with a short growing season.
Red Willow Center honors Taos Pueblo’s rich history of agriculture while teaching Taos Pueblo youth about the importance of agriculture to their heritage and their future. Begun as Red Willow Farm in 2002 after approval from the Tribal Council, Red Willow Center has expanded to promote mind, body and spirit wellness to Taos youth through farming. Located along the road to Taos Pueblo, this non-profit farm seeks to continue Taos Pueblo’s agricultural traditions.
Red Willow Center grows year-round in four green houses, two of which are heated for winter. In its 1.5-acre field Elders are able to teach traditional growing techniques, passing that knowledge on to those new to farming Taos’ high-desert climate. The farm also utilizes drip irrigation, solar power and other modern systems alongside proven traditional farming methods.
Red Willow Center donates blue corn, beans, chile, soup mixes and other traditional food to Elders through the Taos Pueblo Senior Center. It also provides Taos Pueblo youth with internships to learn farming and the business and marketing skills that are necessary to operate a successful farm, skills that can transfer to other careers as well. The farm operates a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that delivers fresh produce to members throughout the year.
The public is welcome to visit the farm year-round every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. during its weekly farmers market. In-season produce is sold, and visitors can learn more about Taos Pueblo’s agricultural heritage and about the Red Willow Center’s programs. Afterward, many guests enjoy lunch at the Tiwa Kitchen, where Tribal-members Ben and Debbie Sandoval serve meals such as Twah Chull (grilled bison with onions, sautéed squash, beans, corn and wild rice) and Phien-Tye (blue corn frybread stuffed with bison meat and chile) in the adobe restaurant they and friends made by hand. Fruit pies and other desserts are baked in the outdoor horno oven.
For more information about the Red Willow Center visit its Facebook page.