Notes from the Road: Vineyards, A Special Place in the Valley and Nutritional Algae


Down Los Pinos Road, where it intersects with Entrada de La Cienega, is the Mevi Vineyard, one of the newest additions to the valley’s agricultural traditions. John Mevi’s wife (Montoya) grew up on the property, which they reacquired around 8 years ago and first planted grapes. The vineyard has a sophisticated drip irrigation system supplied by a large storage tank that is fed from the Acequia de la Cienega. It is a model of water conservation. The Mevi’s grape harvest is sold to a local winery for processing into wine.

“We loved it. We are planning to come back in July and we are trying to figure out how to put a Medicine Wheel in our backyard.”

As you pass the Mevi Vineyards, Los Pinos Road morphs into Camino Capilla Vieja. This stretch is also fed by the Acequia de La Cienega, which irrigates small family gardens and two fields of alfalfa that Rey Romero manages. That is until you reach the end of the road at Tres Rios Ranch (formerly The Gallegos Ranch).

This is a special place in the valley, it was one of the first areas here settled by the Spanish and once was the site of a historic church. The original ranch house, now renovated, was burned during the Pueblo Revolt and only recently (within the last six years) got connected to gas, water and electrical services. There is a hand dug well just outside the house that dates back to the early 1600s. In early Spanish Colonial Days the area was called “Las Bocas,” (The Mouths) because of the three water courses, the Santa Fe River, Alamo Creek and La Cienega Creek, that come together on the property.

Tres Rios Ranch is owned by Bob Cochran but is managed by Alonzo Gallegos and holds the largest organic farm in the Santa Fe area. The 24 acres of organic farmland (of the 250-acre ranch) have not been planted for the last four years because of the lingering drought and water issues (a beaver problem) along the Santa Fe River, the source of water for their acequia (ditch). In addition Alonzo runs cattle on the ranch and has adjoining leased grazing allotments with both the US Forest Service and BLM as part of the Caja del Rio Majada Cooperative, a collective group of cattle growers who share the grazing allotments with Tres Rios.

The ranch is also the location of the New Mexico Algae Production (NMAP) research and development facility, which includes a 2,000-square-foot greenhouse and 1,000-square-foot processing plant/barn housing a processing area, an incubation room, a water analysis lab and refrigeration room. I need to disclose that I am a partner in NMAP, a business that we (residents Bob Cochran, Alonzo Gallegos, Gene Bostwick and I) started four and a half years ago.

Now four and a half years later our facility is fully equipped and contains sophisticated filtration equipment, grow and stress tanks, and a freeze dryer. As planned, NMAP is anticipating being able to sell our product, a nutritional supplement, locally with the next 4-6 months. In our closed process we are able to recycle approximately 98% of the water we use and our plan is to have at least 60% of our electricity produced by solar.

Gardening Tip from Danielle
Cold nights will soon be a mere memory!  With an average last frost date of May 15th, Santa Fe is only a heartbeat away from embracing the garden season.

Unsure of the last frost date in your area? Just consult the Farmer’s Almanac or google the term “last frost date.”

You can now direct seed cold crops such as kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, carrots and onions in your garden beds. Just hold off on putting out warm crop seedlings such as tomatoes, peppers, melons and squash. They’ll need to wait a few more weeks. Happy planting!

Among other duties, Carl is Sunrise’s Chief Guest Transportation Officer and often has gems of conversation to relate. 

Guest Comments from the Road
“We are planning to make Sunrise our yearly retreat,” say three women from Los Angeles.

“The only way I can express it is I feel a level of love for everyone who works at Sunrise.”

“We loved it. We are planning to come back in July and we are trying to figure out how to put a Medicine Wheel in our backyard.”

carldickens1Carl Dickens began working at Sunrise Springs in 1984, the same year he and his family moved to the valley. Carl remained at Sunrise Springs for five years, and later returned in September of 2012. Carl is active in the local community and is passionate about the history of the area, preserving its agricultural traditions, and water conservation.