Study and Volunteeering
From afternoon cooking classes to a semester-long intensive on adobe building techniques, the opportunities to learn in northern New Mexico are broad. Santa Fe and Albuquerque are both home to renowned alternative healing and massage schools, more than can be listed here; if you’re interested, visit www.naturalhealers.com for a list.
Look first into the art, music, and outdoors programs at Ghost Ranch (877/804-4678, www.ghostranch.org), both at the beautiful property in Abiquiu and at the Santa Fe campus; of particular interest is Zoukfest (www.zoukfest.com), a world folk-music workshop, in November. The El Rito campus of Northern New Mexico College (575/581-4115, www.nnmc.edu), north of Abiquiu, runs the Heritage Retreat Center, offering Spanish immersion classes and short-term workshops in traditional crafts.
Santa Fe School of Cooking (116 W. San Francisco St., 505/983-4511, www.santafeschoolofcooking.com) offers day classes not only in contemporary Southwestern cuisine, but also in traditional Native American cooking (author Lois Ellen Frank instructs) and New Mexican standards; nice farmers market trips are offered too.
In Albuquerque, learn to fry the perfect sopaipillas at Jane Butel Cooking School (2655 Pan American Hwy. NE, 800/473-8226, www.janebutel.com), presided over by a Tex-Mex maven who has written numerous cookbooks; day, weekend, and weeklong classes are available.
For a more rural experience, Comida de Campos (877/552-4452, www.comidadecampos.com) is based in Dixon, north of Santa Fe—a stay at this school involves learning about the working farm it’s set on. Day classes cover basic dishes such as tamales and lessons in how to bake in a traditional horno.
Permaculture and Alternative Construction
At Santa Fe’s Ecoversity (2639 Agua Fria St., 505/424-9797, www.ecoversity.org), you can dip in with daylong sessions topics such as making your own biodiesel or buying a goat, or stay for a semester and get a certificate in permaculture or beekeeping. Lama Foundation (575/586-1269, www.lamafoundation.org) in San Cristobal, north of Taos, hosts a weeklong permaculture get-together, with hundreds of people swapping tips on solar design, organic gardening, and water catchment. You can also be a summer steward at the foundation, for two weeks or the full season, and learn organic gardening and land-preservation techniques this way, along with plenty of yoga and quiet time.
In the same vein, you can take a three-day Earthship Seminar (575/751-0462, www.earthship.org), a crash course in building the off-the-grid rammed-earth houses that are springing up around Taos. The Earthship Biotecture organization also accepts volunteers. If you’re very interested in local building styles, look into the intensive semester-long classes in adobe construction at Northern New Mexico College (575/581-4115, www.nnmc.edu).
Seeds of Change (888/762-7333, www.seedsofchange.com) is an organization dedicated to preserving biodiversity in agricultural products and promoting organic farming practices; the group occasionally calls for volunteers on its six-acre research farm in El Guique, just outside of Santa Fe near Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo).
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition