May 2022 Sustainability Newsletter

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May 2022 Newsletter


Celebrating the Planet


Avo holding the earth

Santa Fe County Kicks Off Earth Day Events

April marked the first of five community planting events sponsored by Santa Fe County to celebrate Mother Earth in each district of the County.

Earth day

The opening event was held in District 1, at a frequently used community gathering space in the Santa Cruz Public Housing Development. County Sustainability, Housing Authority, and Open Space teams worked with Seeds of Wisdom for water conscious landscape design and to prep the site for planting. Ambra Baca, District 1 Constituent Services Liaison, helped to make the event a success by recruiting community members to participate and generously giving her time to help with site prep and planting. The earth was very compacted and required several crews and large equipment to amend the soil with compost and move the earth to direct rainwater towards the garden to ensure the landscape uses water wisely. On the event date, Saturday, April 23rd, a team of community members set to work to transform the site into a lovely, life-filled space for the neighborhood. The resulting garden contains numerous native pollinator-friendly plants, including indigo bush, Apache plume, and fernbush. The design also features a number of edible plants, including apple and cherry trees, to provide fresh fruit for both people and wildlife. District 1's Commissioner Roybal was a happy planter, making sure that a beautiful apple tree was well placed in its new home and lent an expert hand throughout the morning. Click here to view a video from this beautiful day.


The County's Sustainability and Open Space teams continued the good work the following week to prepare a section of the Arroyo Hondo Open Space in Commissioner Hamilton's district by replacing invasive plants with native trees and shrubs. The second Earth Day event was held on Saturday, April 30th. Tina Salazar, District 4 Constituent Services Liaison, helped to bring together community members to participate. The Commissioner was pleased to get plenty of dirt under her nails, planting throughout the morning and was thrilled to represent her district at this special site. The large group of community participants, including several Master Naturalists and the Santa Fe Watershed Association, enhanced pollinator and wildlife habitat at the southern Arroyo Hondo trailhead by planting site-appropriate native plants. Native New Mexico hummingbird mint, milkweed, Rocky Mountain penstemon, firewheel, blue flax, pinon pine, Gambel oak, and three leaf sumac, are now taking root in this sweet oasis as a result of the many hands and hearts who made a difference at this event. Click to check out the video from this wonderful day

The Sustainability team continues to be inspired by our community’s commitment to the planet and remains ever grateful for all their hard work and collaboration.

We hope to see you at our remaining Earth Day planting events on May 7th, 14th, and 21st! Click here for details and to sign up!

earth day


Composting in the County

The Sustainability Office will be providing composting systems to 45 households in the County through our backyard composting program, which helps divert food and yard waste from the landfill. Participants can choose between a black plastic bin or straw bale composting system. The systems will be installed by Reunity Resources, who will also provide tools and training on the day of the installation. Following the installation of these 45 new composting systems, 118 households in Santa Fe County will be equipped with composting systems through this annual program.

Composting plays a key role in meeting the County’s climate action goals. Food waste and yard trimmings accounted for over 30% of the material landfilled in the United States in 2018. Once in the landfill, these organic materials release a potent greenhouse gas while decomposing under anaerobic conditions. Diverting food waste through aerobic composting processes reduces the vehicle trips needed to haul waste to the landfill and reduces methane emissions. Composting also has the added benefit of creating a nutrient rich soil amendment to feed plants and help soils retain water in our dry climate.

The County’s backyard composting program was started in 2018 by former Sustainability staff member, Neal Denton. Sustainability Specialist Adeline Murthy has since taken the lead on growing the program. The 45 systems installed this year have the potential to divert 32 tons of food waste and yard trimmings from the landfill each year, based on the average generation of municipal solid waste in the United States. This diversion reduces emissions by 54 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, which is equivalent to the carbon dioxide absorbed by 900 tree seedlings grown over 10 years!

Want to compost, but missed this year's deadline for the backyard composting program? Check out the composting resources on the Sustainability website to get started! Below are a few quick tips:

  • Composting systems can be constructed from an array of materials, including straw bales, concrete blocks, or wire fencing. There are also numerous styles of pre-made systems available.
  • Vegetable scraps, yard trimmings, and paper are all excellent additions to your composting system. Keep meat, bones, fats, diseased plants, dairy, and wood ashes out of your compost pile.
  • Turn your compost pile every 2-3 weeks to speed up decomposition. You may need to add water to your compost pile and cover it if you find the center is dry.

Happy Composting!

Earth Day

Serve Your Community and the Planet

Participating in community events is a great way to make new friends, learn new skills, serve your community, and help the planet! Below are just a few ways you can help out at the County:

  • Earth Day Community Plantings: We are seeking participants to help out at a series of community planting events in May to expand public access to edible gardens and green spaces. Our first event this month will be on May 7th where we will be planting and beginning to restore a public park at the Boys and Girls Club in Valle Vista. On May 14th, we will be installing a rainwater harvesting garden at the Edgewood Senior Center. In our final event, on May 21st, we will be installing a public garden at the Camino de Jacobo Public Housing Development. Click here to learn more about these events and sign up to participate!
  • Adopt-a-Road and Community Clean-Ups: The County is deeply appreciative of the community members who help to keep our public spaces clean. Through the Adopt-a-Road program and community clean-up events, participants identify a county road or public space that they wish to clean. The County provides supplies and supports disposing of the waste that is collected during the clean-up. Click here or contact Nav Khalsa to learn more.

Thanks for all you do in our community!

Our May Picks

(Click on orange title and text below for associated links and information.)

Earth Day

Santa Fe County Community Planting Event at the Boys and Girls Club in Valle Vista

Saturday, May 7

9:00-10:30 AM and

10:30-12:00 PM

Join Santa Fe County for this community planting event to beautify our community and increase access to sustainable green spaces. Please sign up in advance of the event. 

Earth Day

Santa Fe County Community Planting Event at Camino de Jacobo Public Housing

Saturday, May 21

9:00-10:30 AM and

10:30-12:00 PM

Join Santa Fe County for this community planting event to beautify our community and increase access to sustainable green spaces. Please sign up in advance of the event. 


Santa Fe County Community Planting Event at the Edgewood Senior Center

Saturday, May 14

9:00-10:30 AM and

10:30-12:00 PM

Join Santa Fe County for this community planting event to create a rainwater harvesting garden at the Edgewood Senior Center. Please sign up in advance of the event. 

Bike Month

Santa Fe Bike Month

Throughout May

Check out the Santa Fe Bike Month website for a list of cycling events throughout the community!


Next Generation Water Summit

Thursday, May 19 and

Friday, May 20

Attend the Next Generation Water Summit to learn about water conservation and water reuse techniques to help conserve this precious resource. Santa Fe County residents can attend for free! Simply enter your County address in the registration form, and the $99 fee will automatically be waived.


Low-income Household Water Assistance Program

The Low-income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a temporary, federally funded program to help offset the cost of water and wastewater bills for low-income households. Households may apply online or by phone via the New Mexico Human Services Department (1-800-283-4465)

Sustainability Comments or Questions?

We are your local advisors on all things sustainability in Santa Fe County. Call us about anything from water conservation, cleaner transportation, solar and renewable energy, composting, recycling, etc. Or let us know what you would like to learn more about in our newsletter. 


Jacqueline Beam,

Nav Khalsa,

Adeline Murthy,

Caitlin Weber,