Garden Party Tour set for Saturday in county

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It’s harvest time and, to celebrate, gardens and farms along a scenic stretch of road between Los Lunas and Belen are getting together this weekend to showcase the season’s bounty.

Valencia Community Garden, Wagner Farms, Tomé Art Gallery and several other area businesses situated along or near N.M. 47 are hosting their first Garden Party Tour. The self-paced tour will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, and will center around activities organizers hope will encourage others to get involved with growing and processing their own fruits and vegetables.

Tomé Art Gallery will host a reception for its Container Show, which will feature many hand-painted and sculpted garden containers. A few doors down from the gallery, the community garden will serve refreshments and hold demonstrations on how to roast chile, build potato towers and mix compost formulas.

Roxanne Wagner, of Wagner Farms, said she supports the idea for the tour and opened up the family farm because it provides an excellent opportunity to share a way of life she has always enjoyed.

“We want to give people a farm experience,” Wagner said. “People want to come visit the farm to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. They come to learn, play and explore.”

Besides roaming the farm’s corn maze, visitors to the nearly 100-acre family farm can pick their own free tomatoes, chiles and melons.

Community garden beginner Jeany Baines said she had no prior knowledge of gardening until she crossed paths with a couple of the garden’s board members.

“They have actually made it very interesting and inspiring,” Baines said. “The main thing that I am getting is that you don’t have to have so much knowledge to be a useful member of the community garden.”

For visitors interested in gardening to enhance curb appeal, Ted Hodoba, project manager for Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area will give a tour and discussion about drought-tolerant and native plants. One of the things Hodoba will discuss is how to replicate natural habitats to attract the birds and the bees needed to help keep the ecosystem healthy.

In addition to the receptions and demonstrations, tourists can visit the Center for Ageless Living and tour their secret garden, explore KD Farms’ pumpkin patch, learn how to plant trees at Trees That Please Arboretum or witness the early stages of wine-making at Camino Real Winery.

Community garden member and gallery volunteer Joyce Johns Hutchinson said she hopes those attending the tour will learn the importance of growing healthy, clean food besides alerting them to the “wonderful things going on up and down Highway 47.

“You get clean food,” Hutchinson said. “You learn how to garden without spraying insecticides … Sometimes you learn to grow enough for the bugs and for you.”

Organizers said they hope the tour will become an annual event. Maps will be available at all locations along the highway.