With Many Hands Alamogordo Public Land for Food Campaign Community Gardens


Local Junior Organizer Courtney McCary-Squyres Gathering Support for Community Gardens

A mere ten months after its June 2023 Campaign Kick Off, the With Many Hands Alamogordo Public Land for Food Campaign has made incredible strides in making locally grown food more accessible to the residents of Alamogordo

The Public Land for Food Campaign was founded in bridging the gap to create a more resilient food system in Alamogordo

Local Junior Organizer Courtney McCary-Squyres began community organizing in the fall of 2022 while receiving leadership and community organizing training from the With Many Hands Project under the non-profit organization Addition Collective. In the fall of 2023 Squyres joined forces with the non-profit 100% Otero as the food sector chair to help advocate for increased access to locally grown produce in Otero County.

The initial stages of the Public Land for Food Campaign began with a vision of empowering residents of Alamogordo to have an active role in defining their own food and agriculture systems, this is known as food sovereignty. While Alamogordo has a robust food pantry and shared meal network, food system outlets such as the local farmers markets and some of the food distribution sites displayed a noticeable lack of fresh locally grown produce. Understandably, for most of the local food pantries and food distribution sites shelf stable options are the cornerstone of their available offerings. However, the challenge of only a handful of local produce growers poses implications in the local food economy beyond just reduced options at the farmers market.

The Public Land for Food Campaign is about affecting change in the local food economy beginning from the foundational level.

First, help people have knowledge, personal experience and an appreciation for locally grown food. Only those who have ever tasted a homegrown tomato understand the vast difference in taste from a store bought tomato shipped in from hundreds of miles away. 

Next, share the possibilities with the community about creating more local food access, having a choice in where one's food is coming from, the feasibility of reducing the amount of overly processed food consumed and in turn reaping the health benefits of a nutritionally balanced way of living.

Third, build upon the understanding of fresh, local food access benefits and begin shaping food aggregation around creating a circular food economy where schools, senior centers, restaurants, farmers markets and other entities have the option to utilize local produce as the number of local food producers increases over time.

This holistic continuum approach for a more resilient Alamogordo is well underway as the Public Land for Food Campaign implements some finishing touches on the second public community garden site. 

January 27, 2024 marked the ribbon cutting of the Maryland Ave. Public Community Garden, located at 601 Maryland Ave. This public garden, along with the garden located behind the 900 block of New York Ave. in partnership with Alamogordo Mainstreet are available to the public to harvest fruits, vegetables and herbs, free of charge.

The June 2023 Campaign Kick off began the process of amassing over 500 signatures of support from the community to approach the City of Alamogordo about creating a network of community gardens throughout the city on vacant city owned lots

Eleven active community leaders have come together to form the With Many Hands Alamogordo leadership team.

A vibrant Facebook community group has been cultivated with over 400 members seeking to connect with other campaign volunteers and learn more about gardening and food resiliency.

Over 100 volunteer hours have been logged since February all in an effort to see the vision of a more robust local food economy come to fruition. 

With Many Hands has also recently begun the work in taking over the stewardship of the community garden located behind Grace Methodist Church at the corner of 16th and Puerto Rico, and so much more is in store.

If you would like to stay connected to the local food movement, please find With Many Hands Alamogordo on Facebook or contact Junior Organizer Courtney McCary-Squyres at (940) 395-8240 or email sojournerstyle@gmail.com

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Note: Local Junior Organizer Courtney McCary-Squyres contributed to the content of this story. 

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