Growing Forward Farm works toward sprouting the next generation of farmers

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“We love the idea of putting the farm back in Farmington,” said Bonnie Hopkins-Byers, San Juan County’s program director for New Mexico State University.

Hopkins-Byers added that her eyes were set on securing a place for farmers to grow.

“For years we have been looking out on this vacant lot, it’s about 12 acres across the street from the extension office, dreaming about all of the things that it could be,” said Hopkins-Byers.

So San Juan County teamed up with New Mexico State University to make that dream a reality.

“We have about three acres and a new farmer training program of eight new farmers in training that are going to be growing things to sell to our schools and our day cares and the senior centers across the county, as well as our farmers markets,” Hopkins-Byers said.

Weston Medlock, program coordinator for the Northwest New Mexico Farmer Network, said it’s critical that there is a next generation of farmers.

“I believe the average age of a farmer in the U.S. roughly, I forget the exact number, but it’s over 60 years old. So, it’s more important than ever to provide opportunities like this so we can have a new generation of farmers, cause without farmers you don’t have farms and without farms you don’t have food,” Medlock said.

Those opportunities are working, especially for Makayla Garcia who spends her time lending a helping hand on the farm, she said she’s thinking about making a career out of it.

“It’s actually very nice to get to spend your day outside, because then you get to see how a little tiny seed can go ahead and sprout into a bigger plant that is healthy and living,” Garcia added.

The Growing Forward Farm will expand on Friday when they plant fruit trees, some of them are 100 year old varieties.