Recently Tawnya and I had the great pleasure of conducting an Aquaponics Workshop in Taos, New Mexico in cooperation with Not Forgotten Outreach (NFO). NFO is dedicated to motivating military Veterans and Gold Star families of fallen Warriors to participate in recreational and/or therapeutic activities in order to facilitate the healing process. Among many different programs they provide, NFO offers a the opportunity to learn the basic skills and best practices for sustainable farming as a business or hobby in order for veterans and their families to gain from the significant therapeutic and community benefits afforded by farming.
Our relationship with NFO began when two of their members, attended the Aquaponic Farming Course in April 2015. Following the course there was great motivation and excitement to bring more aquaponics education to New Mexico. We worked closely with NFO team, and were able to gather more than 45 people including several Veterans and local Tribal members to attend a one day Aquaponics Workshop held at the Taos Community Center. We had a terrific classroom workshop, with an added presentation by the New Mexico Aquaponic Association about the legislation that is moving forward to allow various fish species for home aquaponics systems in the state. The event was really made special when the class took a field trip to the home of a local resident, where students had an opportunity to see a thoughtfully designed hybrid aquaponic system and greenhouse heated with a solar thermal heat loop. The group enjoyed a wonderful meal together, and got a chance to share stories of their plans for aquaponics, off-grid living and modern day challenges that everyone agreed need solving. We look forward to returning to Taos, NM this Spring to teach another workshop in cooperation with NFO.
In addition to the workshop, our kids got a chance to meet military vets and visit the NFO hacienda and farm where plans are in the works for an aquaponic greenhouse, to complement a herd of goats, flock of chickens and some lovely horses. We can’t wait to see their vision become a reality.
On the trip, we also got to visit some other amazing sites such as the Taos Pueblo, Earthships Taos, The Sand Dunes and The Alligator Farm on our way back home. It was a very memorable trip and we love the opportunity to interact with so many people, hear their stories and know that each project adds up to more abundant food and greater self-reliance.
We encourage you to visit the Not Forgotten Outreach website to learn more about their programs and to donate to their mission. Please also consider supporting other organizations in your area that provide similar services to our veterans.