John Turrietta’s fifth graders from Martin Luther King Jr Elementary School in Rio Rancho have learned a lot about agriculture this year. John was the recipient of the the 2015 N.M. Ag in the Classroom Educator of the Year award from the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau. His class started the year learning to grow chiles with hydroponics, using nutrient solution in place of soil!
Working backwards from cutting-edge agricultural technology to some of the first agricultural technology ever used, John and his students helped us to de-kernel corn from our last years’ crop, clean the seeds using traditional baskets, and plant corn and bean seeds in our native garden using ancient techniques. We don’t typically plant squash, the third of the “three sisters,” because it brings squash bugs!
After the students planted corn and beans in the middle of the squares in the waffle garden, outlined with stones to help retain water, they hiked down to the Rio Grande to bring back a cup of river water to irrigate their newly-planted seeds. While they were here, students also learned about lifeways at the ancient pueblo of Kuaua and took a tour into the Painted Kiva with Ranger Annie and Sharon.
Thank you, Martin Luther King Jr Elementary, for your help in planting. It was a wonderful day for us at Coronado, and we hope that our new gardening partners will return this summer to check on their crops! Kudos to John Turrietta and Assistant Principal Janna Chenault for bringing education to life in the classroom – and beyond.