Down to Earth

About a decade ago Tejinder and Juliana Ciano took over Reunity Resources‘ land from a centenarian veteran with a mission to feed the community, and they’ve continued to honor his legacy. Their work includes vegetable farming, a farm stand, and food truck; soil and compost enterprises; the founding of a biodiesel program; educational outreach; food donations; and community organizing. They’re part of the Quivira Coalition’s Carbon Ranch Initiative and have been working together on developing a model for rural communities in New Mexico to create compost systems to reduce landfill waste and to produce high quality soil amendments for agriculture. (This project has been funded through USDA Rural Development.)
This week Juliana and Tejinder were honored with an award from the Santa Fe New Mexican as one of the “Ten Who Made a Difference.”
This interview is part the Good Earth series, a project supported by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Healthy Soils Initiative and led by photographer Esha Chiocchio. It features a set of eight videos on soil stewards in New Mexico. Please check out the short videos here.

All photos by Esha Chiocchio

2’48 how they got into farming
2’55 Juliana’s childhood farming project
5’55 working with biodiesel, food waste, compost
7’19 how they met and started farming together
9’05 farm carrying on the legacy of a 100-year-old farmer
12’04 waste as energy
13’51 the value of biodiesel
14’46 collecting food scraps in the community
16’51 food waste from restaurants, schools, and manure and mulch
18’24 persistence pays off—”the only true failure comes if you quit”
19’14 where the compost goes
19’33 compost just keeps on giving
20’40 transitioning out of chemical agriculture
21’25 “dirt church” on Sundays
23’21 economic sustainability on a small-farm scale
24’33 vegetable farming the least lucrative—and most important—part of the farm
25’20 food donations to the community
28’03 break
29’17 showing children the food cycle
31’07 their soil conservation techniques
33’50 pollinators
34’46 using the heat from compost to heat the greenhouse
36’08 irrigation
37’42 saving seeds
39’52 doorstep compost collection
41’59 animal products in compost
43’28 big picture of small-scale projects
45’51 everyone loves worms
49’10 diversity in microbiome
49’59 measuring soil organic matter
50’31 farm stand and engaging the public
53’03 food cart
54’10 eating their own food