Featured

NMSU researchers demonstrate winter greens can be grown in New Mexico

ALCALDE – The demand for safe, nutritious, affordable local food, particularly for fresh fruits and vegetables, is rising in New Mexico.

Man picking green plants.
David Archuleta, farm and ranch supervisor at NMSU’s Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde, picks spinach during a study on growing winter greens in hoop houses. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

However, locally grown vegetables are scarce during the winter because the air and soil temperatures are not conducive to plant growth, but there are plenty of clear, sunny days.

“In New Mexico, 92 percent of the agricultural producers are small-acreage farmers,” said Del Jimenez, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service agricultural agent. “They are looking for ways to make that limited acreage economically productive by extending the growing season.”

For many years, NMSU’s Extension agricultural agents have promoted extending the growing season by using economical, passively heated hoop houses. Since 2001, Jimenez has taught hundreds of growers how to build these structures during more than 240 construction workshops around the state and region. Because of this training, approximately 1,400 hoop houses have been built.

A hoop house, or high tunnel, is a structure through which a person may walk, unlike the low tunnel or row cover that has a low clearance from the ground. The 32-foot-long structure is constructed with wood and PVC pipe for support and plastic for cover and ranges in width from 16 feet to 20 feet.

The hoop house has given farmers a way to extend their growing season up to four months, and even through the winter for cool weather crops.

“We’ve known that with the right crops grown at the right time, growers could produce year-round,” Jimenez said. “The key has been selecting the right crop, which is done by knowing the temperature range best for the plants to grow.”

No research in the Southwest has documented the impact of the hoop house on the air and soil temperature during the winter. However, such data has been accumulated for other regions of the United States.

A three-year winter greens production study by NMSU, funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant program, gathered air and soil temperatures during October, November, December, January, February and March at 18 hoop houses located across northern New Mexico, including at NMSU’s Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde; southern Colorado; eastern Arizona; and at NMSU’s Leyendecker Plant Science Center in Las Cruces.

“We decided to study the nighttime heat-retention capacity of three hoop house designs,” said Mark Uchanski, an associate professor in NMSU’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

The three hoop house designs include one with a single sheet of plastic, another with a double sheet of plastic with forced air between the two layers, and a third that built on the double sheet design with the addition of black 55-gallon water barrels to absorb and re-radiate the day’s heat.

“We learned that temperature at night is buffered better by the double-layer model and the barrel model, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to better yield to justify the expense,” Uchanski said.

Spinach and lettuce were the cool season crops grown during the study. These plants grow best at about 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It’s the night temperatures that are critical for crop survival and to prevent crop damage,” Uchanski said. “At night, the inside temperatures got cooler than the target range, but not enough to cause crop damage. While the single layer of plastic design was sufficient to produce a crop, a secondary layer of row cover woven material is very good for additional protection and growth.”

The air temperature under the row cover was an average of 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the air inside the hoop house during the day and night.

“That little bit of temperature difference can translate to a yield difference. It’s really worth-while to put the extra protection over the plants,” Uchanski said.

During the study, the spinach and lettuce were planted in October and November, and harvested throughout the winter, with the last harvest in mid-March. The yield per hoop house was nearly 100 pounds harvested during the course of the study.

“At that yield, a grower could recoup the $800 to $1,200 construction cost within a couple of seasons,” Jimenez said. “Local lettuce and spinach in the winter can earn up to $8 a pound.”

Commentary

Nuclear Weapons Protesters’ Sabotage Conviction Overturned—Court Says Jury Verdict Was Not Rational

By John LaForge

An Appeals Court has vacated the sabotage convictions of peace activists Greg-Boertje-Obed, of Duluth, Min., and his co-defendants Michael Walli of Washington, DC, and Sr. Megan Rice of New York City. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal prosecutors failed to prove — and that “no rational jury could find” — that the three had intended to damage “national defense.”

In July 2012, Greg, Michael and Megan clipped through four fences and walked right up to the “Fort Knox” of weapons-grade uranium, the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility inside the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Uranium processed there puts the “H” in our H-bombs. With three hours before they were spotted, the nuclear weapons abolitionists painted “Woe to an Empire of Blood” and other slogans on several structures, strung banners, and celebrated their luck in catching the nuclear weapons system asleep at the wheel. When a guard finally confronted them, they offered him some bread.

They were convicted in May 2013 of damage to property and sabotage and have been imprisoned since then. Boertji-Obed, 59, and Walli, 66, were both sentenced to 62 months on each conviction, to run concurrently; and Sr. Megan, who is 82, was given 35 months on each count, also running concurrently.

Questions about the legal status of nuclear weapons were not on appeal, but rather the issue of whether the Sabotage Act applies to peace protesters who do no damage to weapons. During the appeal’s oral argument, the prosecutor insisted that the three senior citizens had “interfered with defense.” Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge asked pointedly, “With a loaf of bread?”

The Court’s written opinion, also by Judge Kethledge, ridiculed the idea of depicting peaceful protesters as saboteurs, saying. “It is not enough for the government to speak in terms of cut fences…” The government must prove that the defendant’s actions were “consciously meant or practically certain to” interfere with “the nation’s capacity to wage war or defend against attack.” Greg, Megan and Michael, the court said, “did nothing of the sort,” thus, “the government did not prove the defendants guilty of sabotage.” The opinion went so far as to say, “No rational jury could find that the defendants had that intent when they cut the fences.” The point is shockingly uncharacteristic in its direct implication of prosecutorial over-reach and manipulation of the jury.

Another reason the Appeals Court vacated the sabotage conviction was that the Supreme Court’s legal definition of “national defense” is unclear and imprecise, “a generic concept of broad connotations…” The Court said it needed “a more concrete” definition because, “vague platitudes about a facility’s ‘crucial role in national defense’ are not enough to convict a defendant of sabotage. And that is all the government offers here.” The definition was so general and vague, the Court said, that it barely applies to the Sabotage Act, since, “It is hard to determine what amounts to ‘interference with’ a ‘generic concept’.”

Re-sentencing may result in “time served” and release

The Court took the additional and unusual step of voiding the prison sentences for both the sabotage and the damage-to-property convictions, even though the lesser conviction still stands. This was because the harsh prison terms given for property damage were heavily weighted in view of the (ill-gotten) sabotage conviction. The result is that the three radical pacifists will be re-sentenced and may be released. As the Appeals Court said: “It appears that the [sentencing] … for their [damage to property] conviction will be substantially less than their time already served in federal custody.”

If the federal prosecutor does not challenge the reversal of his overzealousness, and another superior court doesn’t reverse the 6th Circuit’s decision, the three could be freed in July or sooner.

The high-profile nature of uranium enrichment at Oak Ridge, and the vulnerability of the site to senior citizens, brought enormous media attention to the case, which has been featured in lengthy investigations by the Washington Post, The New Yorker and others. The action, known as “Transformation Now Plowshares,” also helped uncover scandalous misconduct and malfeasance among security contractors at Y-12/Oak Ridge complex. Arguably and ironically, these pacifists almost certainly thus strengthened the defense of the country.

What remains unscathed is the White House’s plan to spend $1 trillion on new weapons production facilities over the next 30 years — $35 billion a year for three decades. The role of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility in this Bomb production — a clear violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — was named with blood by the Plowshares action, but H-bomb business marches on. Protesters will converge on the site again Aug. 6.

For more on Y-12 and the weapons build-up, see the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, OREPA.org.

John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Local

City Senior Programs to feature Medicare presentation Thursday

The city of Las Cruces Senior Programs invites the public to attend monthly presentations designed for Working Baby Boomers. The next presentation will be from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 28, at Munson Center, 975 S Mesquite Street.

The presenter is Stephanie Larazin, Southwest SHIP coordinator, New Mexico Aging & Long Term Services Department.

•    Understanding Medicare (What are the different parts?)
•    Medicare Eligibility and Enrollment (Do I automatically receive benefits when I turn 65?)
•    Parts of Medicare (What is Part A? What does Medicare pay for?)
•    Types of Medicare Plans (Does Original Medicare include Part A, B and D?)
•    How Medicare Works with Other Coverage
•    How Much Does Medicare Cost?
No advance reservations are required and there is no cost to attend. Programming designed for ages 50+ but open to all ages. Please contact Senior Programs by calling 575 528-3000 for questions.

Border

Environment

DAC Commission supports Endangered Species Act

Doña Ana County Sends Message To Congress: Keep ESA

The Doña Ana County Commission sent a strong message to Washington this week when it voted 3-1 for a resolution in support of the federal Endangered Species Act, which is facing increasing threats in Congress. The lone vote against the resolution was cast by Commissioner Ben Rawson. You can view the resolution here. Meanwhile, the U.S. House recently passed a defense spending bill with unrelated exemptions to the ESA for species that some lawmakers don’t want to see listed.

Speaking of endangered species…

Scientists fear the Kazakhstan’s saiga antelope, which has existed since the most recent ice age, may soon go extinct after the death of 40 percent of population during the last two weeks. Veterinary scientists suspect that a respiratory disease called pasteurellosis has killed nearly 121,000 saiga since May 11, when the first corpse was found on the Kazakh steppes. The disease is caused by bacteria commonly found in humans, cattle, rabbits, cats and dogs, among other species. (Source: Greenwire)

Prepare to Be Inspired on June 9th

SWEC will hold a screening of Bidder 70 on Tuesday, June 9th at 7:00 pm. This award winning film follows Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student, who in a dazzling act of civil disobedience derailed the outgoing Bush administration’s illegal and ill-advised U.S. federal Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction. As Bidder #70, Tim bid 1.8 million dollars and won 22,000 pristine acres surrounding Utah’s National Parks with no intention to pay or drill.  The Obama administration later agreed the land should be saved and invalidated the entire auction.  Nevertheless, Tim was indicted on two federal felonies with penalties of up to ten years in prison. The film showing is free and open to the public. For more information, call (575) 522-5552.

 

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    Commentary

    Nuclear Weapons Protesters’ Sabotage Conviction Overturned—Court Says Jury Verdict Was Not Rational

    By John LaForge An Appeals Court has vacated the sabotage convictions of peace activists Greg-Boertje-Obed, of Duluth, Min., and his co-defendants Michael Walli... Read more »

    May 14, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    News

    PRC Orders CCN Hearing for San Juan Case

      SANTA FE – While many viewed Wednesday’s action as a time extension, the order signed by the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) sets a hearing on the merits... Read more »

    May 28, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Local/Area

    City Senior Programs to feature Medicare presentation Thursday

    The city of Las Cruces Senior Programs invites the public to attend monthly presentations designed for Working Baby Boomers. The next presentation will be from 6... Read more »

    May 26, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Upcoming

    Department of Health Participates in Las Cruces AIDS Candlelight Memorial

    (Las Cruces) – The New Mexico Department of Health joins the Southwest Action Group (SWAG) to participate in the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, Saturday... Read more »

    May 12, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Letters

    La Semilla Community Farm Spring Update

    The heath of the land and our people are intrinsically tied. I was standing in a field over a thousand miles from home during the last months of a farm apprenticeship,... Read more »

    May 27, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Reviews

    The One Book: Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’

     Editor’s note: The second paragraph has been revised since original posting to correct an error that described the 2°C rise in temperature as annual.   Emanuele... Read more »

    April 10, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Sustainable Living

    NMSU researchers demonstrate winter greens can be grown in New Mexico

    ALCALDE – The demand for safe, nutritious, affordable local food, particularly for fresh fruits and vegetables, is rising in New Mexico. David Archuleta, farm... Read more »

    May 28, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Environment

    DAC Commission supports Endangered Species Act

    Doña Ana County Sends Message To Congress: Keep ESA The Doña Ana County Commission sent a strong message to Washington this week when it voted 3-1 for a resolution... Read more »

    May 29, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Arts

    Southwest Environmental Center to present ‘Bidder 70′

    The Southwest Environmental Center is pleased to announce a special screening of Bidder 70, a documentary centering on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective... Read more »

    May 27, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Border

    FNS Special Feature: What’s Killing El Paso’s Historic Workers?

    Editor’s Note: Frontera NorteSur resumes our special series on issues connected to the former Asarco smelter in El Paso, Texas. Today’s story is the first part... Read more »

    May 7, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Spiritual

    Father John Dear to speak on the quest for nuclear weapons abolition Thursday

    May 14, 2015, Santa Fe: Father John Dear will speak on the quest for nuclear weapons abolition at Santa Fe’s Mountain Cloud Zen Center at 6:30 pm Thursday,... Read more »

    May 11, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Events Calendar

    Next PVA meeting May 28

    Join us for the May Progressive Voter Alliance (PVA) meeting:   Thursday, May 28 7pm Munson Senior Center 975 S Mesquite, Las Cruces LINK TO MAP HERE  Read More →

    May 26, 2015 | Leave a Comment


    Links

  • The Light of New Mexico
  • Green Fire Times
  • Transition Times--Colorado
  • Heath Haussamen: NM Politics
  • Thomas Wark
  • Carolyn Baker: “Speaking truth to power”
  • James Howard Kunstler: The Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle
  • Dada's Dally: defies description
  • Desert Journal: NM online newspaper
  • Bruce Gagnon: Organizing Notes
  • Sally Erickson: The end of empire
  • Steve Klinger’s music and blogs: Songs for change; music blog
  • Progressive Democratic activist site
  • Gordon Solberg
  • Brenda Norrell: Censored and under-reported news
  • Rio Grande Digital: Las Cruce/El Paso/Juarez news and culture
  • JourneySantaFe—Water: Who Controls It?

  • Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.