Organization: Agri-Cultura Network
Location: Albuquerque, NM
In her words...
“As a Native woman in agriculture I am guided by our ancestral calendar, and I share this knowledge through an intergenerational process. As a farmer myself, I know first-hand the challenges of farm to market. I have experience and lessons learned to develop a farm cooperative in Brownsville, Texas and in Central Mexico. This inspired my strong commitment to protecting the environment, and to building a healthy, sustainable, local economy through agricultural practices. ‘
What gives her hope...
Helga became a shareholder activist to convince a chain of variety stores to eliminate toxic chemicals in its supply chain, and is encouraging the discount giant to invest in communities that generate its profits. She thinks the CEO should visit her in Albuquerque to see her operations, and learn a bit about where that chain’s wealth originates and how it could be a better community partner.
Helga Garcia-Garza has a vision for equity and food justice for underserved Hispanic and Native communities in her Central New Mexico region. With lived experience as a member of a marginalized Native and Indigenous community, and two decades as an organic farmer, today she is Director of Agri-cultura Cooperative Network/ La Cosecha CSA (ACN). Together, the community-driven initiative brings fresh, local produce from a collective of more than 40 small farmers near Albuquerque to the tables of hundreds of families who battle diet-related diseases in the South Valley of Albuquerque. She bases her work in a from-the-ground-up approach to building an environmental economy, as she believes the nutritional needs of her community are best served by local farmers who grow healthy, culturally appropriate food using organic and sustainable practices.
As a business development engine, ACN also gives farmers the chance to access lucrative markets in local restaurants, hotels, and public schools and offers skills training in soil health, and pest and weed management, among other services. La Cosecha, an innovative community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, is a key part of ACN. During the growing season, it distributes more than 300 bags of fruits and vegetables weekly to local families, which they can purchase with SNAP funds. Next, she’s going big: her new project is a multi-million dollar Eco-Wellness clinic, a major real estate partnership that will centralize and expand community health and wellness resources. As part of the planned 20-acre facility, she will triple her farming capacity with four acres of fields and three greenhouses for maximum production capacity and optimal land use, all in a state-of-the-art solar-powered facility.