Harmony Farm–Richard Belanger

Staci Strauss

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Editor’s Note: We produced this video way back in 2007. We recently revisited Richard Belanger’s story and were impressed all over again by his eloquence. His simple description of his farm life still inspires us. We hope it speaks to you as well. He has since become involved with Ganados del Valle, a praise-worthy nonprofit whose mission is to assure that northern New Mexico’s Hispanic and Native American food and farming culture and traditions are passed to future generations.

Near Abiquiú, about an hour north of Santa Fe, Richard Belanger and his ever changing band of assistants, associates and helpers grow some of the tastiest produce this side of the Rio Chama.

Whatever side of the river you’re on, Harmony Farm is an excellent example of how people with drive, a little piece of land and a whole lot of hard work make good food from soil, air, water and seeds.

When we first met Richard Belanger on his small, but productive farm–Harmony Farm–he was difficult to interview. The guy never sat down! All of us have met someone who could be described as being a ‘bundle of energy’, this man was a trainload, a boatload of energy.

But we were patient, calm even. We were in Georgia O’Keeffe country. We were among arroyos, mesas, mountains and Kokopelli. We were in the land of locally grown chile, beans and corn. We had time.

The good food Harmony Farm is selling on market day, was picked the day before–sometimes even the morning of.

And eventually Richard found a space between tasks and graciously sat down with us for a friendly, philosophical interview.

The farm might feel isolated, but Harmony Farm is very much a member of the local food community. Their familiar blue bus makes its presence known every Saturday morning at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. Richard told us that nearly eighty per cent of their sales happen at the market in five hours.

We saw first hand how they conducted business on a couple of hectic Saturdays. People can’t wait for the blue bus to arrive. And why not? The good food Harmony Farm is selling on market day, was picked the day before–sometimes even the morning of.

It’s fitting then, that you’ll see this quote on their website from the first President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel:

“I am in favor of things that have authenticity, roots, originality, verve, balance, taste, communications, challenge, relevance to their time–in short, things that make sense.”

Like Harmony Farm.

Have you ever experienced the food and farming culture of northern New Mexico?

Photo credit: Craig McCord