Local not-for-profit Reunity Resources is finding new ways to improve our soil, food, lives, and planet
BY SUSAN SPANO
Take wood mulch and some raw food waste (the stuff in the trash that once was alive), pump air into it, or, in an alternate process, add worms (red wigglers preferred) and let it sit for a few months. Voilà! Really good soil.
That’s basically what they do in the Soil Yard at Reunity Resources, a not-for-profit in Agua Fria Village, on the west side of Santa Fe. It sells gold-standard compost to landscapers and home gardeners who prefer it to synthetic commercial brands.
The yard was established in 2016 by Juliana and Tejinder Ciano and is managed by Trevor Ortiz in the belief that high-quality soil is central to sustainable food production. It enriches our farms and gardens, and stores carbon dioxide underground rather than in the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming. Juliana admits that collecting raw food waste from schools, restaurants, and individuals to compost at Reunity is gnarly business. But reusing it for soil keeps the food production cycle local and avoids the release of methane in landfills.
“You don’t need a PhD to compost successfully,” says Juliana, who—go figure—got her bachelor of arts in theater but looks quite at home in a flat, muddy field with big, brown steaming mounds of compost-in-the-making.
Reunity’s methods are relatively cheap and simple enough for anyone to execute: pumping air into the mulch-waste mixture while it sits, heating up, or alternatively, letting worms loose on food scraps with compost as a result.
The game changed this spring when they introduced a new approach, producing a super-soil supplement that has the umph of a strong immune system. The key, based on recent, globally recognized soil research by David Johnson, a molecular biologist at the Institute for Sustainable Agricultural Research, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, is a heightened fungal-to-bacteria ratio.
As it turns out, the science of soil is way more complicated than the simple art of composting. “There’s a great deal we don’t know about how soil works. It’s like the deep ocean,” Juliana says.
The Soil Yard is just one Reunity program aimed at changing the way we produce, distribute, and consume food. Responding to its location in a USDA-designated area with low food access, the not-for-profit created a community fridge and pantry. The pantry is open 24/7 to anyone, no questions asked. And when the two-acre urban garden yields produce, the Reunity Farm Stand opens, welcoming everyone who needs food or wishes to donate. In season, field volunteers help in the garden, further supplying the Farm Stand and fridge.
Education, especially for children, starts this month with Reunity’s Farm Camp for Kids, an acclaimed program
that gives youngsters aged 4 to 10 a chance to participate in a variety of agriculture-related activities—from sowing, transplanting, and harvesting to natural dyeing, fort-building, and making pollinator hotels—all in the outdoors. This summer Reunity offers junior camp counselor and counselor-in-training programs for teens as well.
And all summer Reunity stages cultural events, concerts, and workshops, spreading the word about how everyone can contribute to improving food security and the environment around us. The organization that started in 2011 to recycle used cooking oil as biodiesel fuel now has two dozen seasonal workers and is 85% financially self-supporting. Juliana has a moving way of explaining why she and Tejinder started Reunity. “We asked ourselves what does the community need? What do I need? What can I do?”
April through September: Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
October through March: Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; closed weekends.
Doorstep Compost Collection for the Soil Yard can be arranged by calling
505-750-4764 or at https://www.reunityresources.com/doorstep.html.
Drop-In Volunteer Days: Thursday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
RSVP online at https://www.reunityresources.com/volunteer.html.
Farm Camp for Kids, ages 4–10, June 5–August 18, weekdays from
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Farm Camp Counselor-in-Training, ages 15–7, same dates and hours as
Farm Camp for Kids.
Junior Counselor Training, ages 10–14, June 19–30 and July 10–21, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Note: Farm Camps fill up fast; if the one you’re interested in is full, put your name
on the waiting list: [email protected].
Concerts, Festivals, and More
Creative movement for 3–6-year-olds, June to August, Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Singalongs for Children, June to September, second Sunday of the month, 10:45 a.m.
Andy Mason Music for Families, June 2, 6:00 p.m.
High Desert Trio, Summer Concert Series, June 9, 7:00 p.m.
Medium Bird, Summer Concert Series, June 16, 7:00 p.m.
Ugly Music Day with we.grow.eco, June 22, 6:00 p.m.
Half Broke Horses, Summer Music Series, June 30, 7:00 p.m.
Santa Fe Review, Summer Music Series, July 8, 7:00 p.m.
Storytelling with Joe Hayes, July 9, 16, 23, and 30, 7:00 p.m.
Ugly Music Day with we.grow.eco, July 27, 6:00 p.m.
Rose’s Pawn Shop, Summer Concert Series, August 5, 7:00 p.m.
Korvin Orkestar, Summer Concert Series, August 18, 7:00 p.m.
David Berkely, Summer Concert Series, September 8, 7:00 p.m.
Fall Festival, September 23 and 24, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Reunity Resources, 1829 San Ysidro Crossing in Agua Fria Village, is open from
June to September, Thursday to Friday, 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday to Sunday,
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and on weekends, in October.
For more information, consult the website: https://www.reunityresources.com.