Volunteers spread mulch and designated flower beds Saturday at the newest community garden. The NMT Community Garden is 12,000 square feet.
Cathy Cook| El Defensor Chieftain


Volunteers spread mulch across the 12,000 square feet of Socorro’s newest community garden Saturday.

The plans for the garden include 12 vegetable lots, eight fruit trees, pollinator plants, bush plants, vining plants and sunflowers.

Socorro County already has two community gardens, one behind the Teen Center in Socorro and one behind the Wellness Center in Alamo. The newest garden is located at 905 Bullock Ave. next to the New Mexico Tech campus.

All three gardens are spaces where anyone is welcome to garden or gather produce. The newest garden has been in the works since last summer—an internal memorandum of understanding had to go through at New Mexico Tech before the space could be used. The property the garden is located on belongs to the college. Any extra produce from the newest garden will go to the Socorro Storehouse.

The new garden has had broad community support. The city helped bump out the curb and will donate tools and help with water. Rotary Club donated a wheelbarrow.  NMT’s groundskeeping donated the mulch and cleared the land. There have also been significant private donations to the garden, said SCOPE director Samantha Winter. Food service company Chartwells and the Socorro Storehouse have also helped fund the endeavor.

Grad student Jonathan Dooley shovels mulch into a wheelbarrow. He came out volunteer because, “I want to see something grow.”
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

“I think that people are loving the idea of more green spaces and Socorro feeding Socorro,” said Winter.

The new garden was created in collaboration with SCOPE, the NMT Gardening Club and Food Services.

“We’re very lucky to have this much support,” said Nowka Gutierrez, NMT Director of Auxiliary Services. Gutierrez is also the sponsor for the school’s student gardening club. At present, the club has 12 members. The hope is that the garden will give students access to different vegetables. The garden club will help with maintenance, garden classes and grow classes.

One of the goals of the garden is to offer extracurricular education classes on using produce at home, said Dining Services Director Daniel Leatherman. Chartwells will also divert waste from food services to compost in the garden. They already divert some food waste to local pig farmers.

Although he has not been gardening for that long, Garden Club President Christopher Nance always wanted to grow his own food. Nance was one of the driving forces behind organizing the new garden. Nance is a senior in business management and education and started the garden club in July.

Nance got his gardening start in March 2021, when he transformed his dorm room into a terrarium. Fortunately, his roommates didn’t mind—they were the ones who got him started buying plants.

Five hundred dollars later, Nance had a mini-dorm room garden. Growing plants indoors can be a challenge. He has green carrot plants, but they haven’t grown any carrots. There was a gnat invasion in the dorm room from all the fruits and vegetables. But he was able to successfully grow a six foot tall tomato plant in the dorm room.

Along with providing an outdoor space where dorm dwelling students can garden, the new community garden will be a new green space where people can relax.

“We really want it to be a space to process some of the traumas of the everyday world in a safe green space,” said Nance.

SCOPE will be giving out grow kits for community members that they can use to plant in the garden. There will also be online seed starting classes available soon. To stay up to date on the garden visit their Facebook page. The NMT garden also has a discord.

“Volunteers are always needed,” said Winter.

Green Space

Socorro County already had two community gardens.

One is located behind the Teen Center at 1002 Ake Ave., Socorro. The other is behind the Wellness Center by the fitness path in Alamo. Both are in winter mode but will need volunteers as spring draws near to prepare for planting.

The third and newest garden is located at 905 Bullock Ave., Socorro.

Cathy Cook, Editor, El Defensor Chieftain