TYPICALLY, WHEN WE THINK OF EATING farm to table, certain luxurious images spring to mind. Maybe it’s a leisurely Saturday morning spent at the farmers’ market smelling fresh-cut basil, examining a carton of pastel-blue Araucana chicken eggs, and selecting the perfect heirloom Green Zebra tomato. Or perhaps a vision of dinner at an upscale restaurant emerges: A roasted rack of local grass-fed lamb nestled beside butter-poached baby rainbow carrots with their tops still attached to signal their freshness.

The term farm to table may have a loose definition, but far too often it can convey an air of exclusivity. Whether stemming from high price points or limited availability, locally grown produce and products can be difficult for many consumers to access. Luckily, in New Mexico, the days of once-a-week markets and special-occasion restaurants having a monopoly on these items are giving way to new distribution models. From all-local grocery stores to nonprofits fighting food insecurity to farmers finding imaginative ways to share their bounty, community-minded individuals are making healthy local foods more abundant.

Yana and Chris Whitson own Farm to You by Bomvida Farms.

THE SECOND LOCATION OF FARM TO YOU BY Bomvida Farms had only been open for six weeks when I stopped by on a Tuesday afternoon in late winter. The welcoming smell of freshly brewed coffee greets customers at the Albuquerque grocery store, along with an eclectic array of made–in–New Mexico products displayed on rustic wooden shelves. As with Farm to You’s original store, in Belén, signs indicate every item’s maker or grower, place of origin, and distance to that farm or facility. I examined blue-corn pancake mix (Ancestral Foods, Zuni, 127 miles), microgreens (HQ Farms, La Joya, 55 miles), and dried oyster mushrooms (New Mexico Fungi, Albuquerque, three miles).

A chalkboard sign on the wall reads “Local farms = your pantry.” The store’s unique membership program allows customers to stock up on whatever foods they need for a set amount per week or month. (Items can also be purchased individually.) An adjacent sign lays out the store’s house rules, which include “Know where your food comes from,” “Don’t haggle with farmers … ever,” and—as might be necessary with a flat-fee system—“Don’t be greedy.”

Labels show how many miles each item traveled.

I found co-owner Chris Whitson stocking a freezer with New Mexico–raised meats (beef, lamb, pork, yak) at breakneck speed. The busy farmer and grocer says that the genesis for Bomvida Farms began during the pandemic, when he, his wife, Yana, and their three children were traveling throughout Mexico in an RV.

“We were witnessing the global supply chain breakdown,” he says. “It really made us realize that we needed to grow our food.” The Whitsons, who previously lived in Albuquerque, did not waste any time. After purchasing farmland in Bosque, they were selling meat, goat milk, eggs, and veggies at several local farmers’ markets by 2022.

The harsh realities of growing and selling their own food quickly took a toll. “You work so hard and spend days getting ready for a market—and then sometimes hardly make anything,” Chris says. Hearing the same complaint from fellow vendors, he and Yana approached several with an idea: They could sell their colleagues’ products at Bomvida’s booth, thus relieving them of time-consuming market duties and creating an easy one-stop shop for customers. By the end of the year, the successful concept had evolved into a brick-and-mortar operation located on Belén’s Main Street.

Shoppers browse Bomvida’s Albuquerque store.

Farm to You was a hit with locals who had been yearning for more consistent access to fresh, high-quality foods and who supported the store’s equitable business model. “We work with more than 45 local farmers,” Chris says of the store’s two locations. “It’s our philosophy to meet farmers where they are, and not to put demands on things like minimum quotas or set delivery days or on cleaning and packaging—we can do that. We take what they have, when they have it, for whatever price they ask for.”

While Chris admits that this system is not yet personally lucrative, he believes the community profits. “About 94 to 97 percent of the store’s revenue goes directly back into the local economy,” he says. “You can just look around and see we are doing something good here.”

MoGro co-director Shelby Danilowicz.

SOMETHING GOOD IS ALSO HAPPENING ACROSS town in a warehouse near the North Valley. Since 2012, the Albuquerque nonprofit MoGro (short for “mobile grocery”) has been on a mission to increase food access across New Mexico, especially to rural and tribal communities, by bringing weekly shares of largely locally grown and made food products to folks who need it. In recent years, that vision has expanded to concentrate on supplying institutions like hospitals, senior care facilities, schools, and community centers from Magdalena to Española, with hopes for more outlets in the near future.

I spoke to MoGro’s co-director Shelby Danilowicz on a pack day as a dozen or so volunteers and employees busily filled 600 paper grocery bags. Items ranged from Tesuque Pueblo Farm sunflower sprouts to Farm of Song mustard greens grown in Albuquerque to Fano Bread Company sourdough bread, also made in the Duke City.

“Our old direct-to-consumer model was tough for farmers,” Danilowicz says. “We never knew how much food we needed week-to-week. But now that we partner with organizations, we not only have a larger impact getting food out to the community, we can be a reliable source of income for our local farms.”

Volunteers pack groceries at MoGro, located inside Roadrunner Food Bank, in Albuquerque.

According to Seth Matlick, owner of Vida Verde Farm, working with MoGro has been a game changer for his Albuquerque business. “I’m able to make one phone call and ensure that our food will reach 300 to 500 homes that week,” he says. “It allows us to focus on growing food, not selling it.”

One of MoGro’s more unique partnerships is with Presbyterian Community Health, whose providers can give patients a weekly “prescription” for healthy produce at no cost. “In the future, we hope insurers like Medicaid will agree to help pay for the program as a form of preventative health care,” says Danilowicz.

MoGro also works with nutritionists and each organization to make sure the food they provide is curated for each community’s individual wants and needs while also trying to introduce some items they might not be as familiar with. “Some of our customers don’t have access to the internet,” she says. “So we put recipes in the bag for how to cook things like mustard greens or kohlrabi to make it that much easier.”

Dave Raggio at Reunity Resources’s Farm Stand.

MANY GROWERS SAY THAT ACCESS TO LOCAL farm-fresh goods is only as good as what you do with them. Just ask Reunity Resources, a five-acre regenerative farm in Agua Fria dedicated to fighting food insecurity and climate change, reducing food waste, and cultivating the community through shared food. The nonprofit offers several ways to achieve these goals, including a food-scrap collection service, compost and soil yards, a donation-based community fridge and pantry, a farm stand, cooking classes, and pop-up events. But when I visited the farm on an unseasonably warm February afternoon, I wanted to hear about one of Reunity’s newer (and tastier) initiatives—the Saving Seconds program.

Reunity co-founder and program director Juliana Ciano and Saving Seconds program manager Dave Raggio joined me at a picnic table next to Reunity’s farm stand. The barn-red out-building sat empty for the duration of winter. Soon it would teem with local produce, meats, eggs, dairy products, pantry items, ready-made foods prepared by Reunity’s Farm Fresh Kitchen, and Saving Seconds’ prepared goods.

Locally grown greens.

Raggio, a chef-turned-farmer-turned-farm chef, explains that Saving Seconds is Reunity’s take on the popular “ugly food” movement. In essence, Raggio’s team takes perfectly edible produce that’s deemed too imperfect for retail (think cracked carrots, overripe tomatoes, crooked cucumbers) and repurposes them into things like arugula pesto, carrot hummus, heirloom tomato chips, habanada pepper hot sauce, pickled garlic scapes, and apple kombucha. “It’s not just blemished produce,” he says. “We work with other local farms to buy what they have a glut of, or what’s left over from a hard market day—we want to share that burden and use that extra food so it doesn’t go to waste.”

Raggio enjoys the opportunity to “let the waste drive the creativity.” He ferments gingery kimchi using the otherwise discarded tough, outer leaves of a napa cabbage, for example. “A lot of farm-to-table chefs dream of going to the source for ingredients and then letting them shine,” he says. “We get to do that here but also stretch beyond the obvious preparations by bringing artistry to foods that a restaurant would never buy.”

By utilizing as much of the farm’s bounty as possible, Reunity can feed more Santa Feans—often for free or at a discount. “I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that one in five children in Santa Fe County is food insecure,” says Ciano. She adds that the majority of food grown in the state is exported, while most of what New Mexicans eat is imported.

“We want to make farming collaborative and grow our connectivity to the food we eat,” she says. Raggio adds, “I spent a long time in [farm-to-table] fine dining and got perturbed with its lack of accessibility—everyone should be able to enjoy this food.”

Read more: Named after a Oaxacan festival that celebrates the richness of community, La Guelaguetza is the place to go for mole—and memories.

This recipe from Dave Raggio at Reunity Resources utilizes “ugly” carrots to make a spicy dip he calls a hummus. “At our farm, we are carrot people,” he says. “Many of the carrots that pop out of the ground even look like people, with arms and legs, or are split, stumpy, twisted, knobby, and broken. They’re all still so good to eat.” Raggio says you can dip most anything in this hummus—even fingers, or more carrots!

  • 2 pounds carrots
  • ¾ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 ½ lemons, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon harissa (or more if you like spice)
  • 1–2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup water, divided (more or less, to desired consistency)
  • Black sesame seeds to top

Makes 1 quart

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Clean and rough chop carrots, toss in ¼ cup olive oil, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a dry pan, toast the whole cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant, then roughly grind with mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

3. Combine all spices in a bowl and set aside.

4. Check carrots, they should be smashable and slightly browned. Remove carrots from the oven and let cool.

5. In a food processor, combine roasted carrots, tahini, lemon juice, harissa, garlic, spice mix, and half the water. Begin processing, drizzling in the remaining olive oil and water until desired consistency is reached.

6. Taste and adjust harissa and salt to your liking; add more harissa if you wish to crank up the heat.

7. Top with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.

“We’re always looking for versatile ways to dress greens and keep salads interesting throughout the year,” says Raggio. He likes this zingy dressing because it works on most any greens, especially chopped bok choy, mizuna, arugula, and spring mix. Add in sliced turnips and radishes, cucumbers, avocado, toasted almonds, crushed up ramen noodles, and maybe even shredded carrots to round out your farm salad. Raggio recommends topping the whole deal with a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi and eating it with a “funky forked carrot.”

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ginger, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ¾ cup neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Pinch of salt, to taste​

Makes 1 quart

1. Clean, peel, and roughly chop the carrots.

2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

3. Drizzle on farm salad. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.