Every October, the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens Heritage Farm celebrates the harvest with a festival. The festival features music, crafts, workshops, activities for kids, a chance to see farm animals, and wagon rides. Apple cider can be purchased, as well as food. Enjoy barbecue brisket and chicken with all the trimmings.
The farmhouse has demonstrations on baking and beekeeping, among other things. And then there are the apples. They're grown right on the premises and are pressed into cider so visitors can take some home.
The working farm is open year round and features interpretive presentations and hands on workshops.
Heritage Farm Kitchen Garden
The farm is a working farm, and the garden produces enough produce to supply the restaurant at the Aquarium's Shark Reef Cafe. The nearby apple orchard produces Sandia Crisp apples for making into cider and cider vinegar. The grape orchard supplies grapes to be made into juice. There are also berry bushes surrounding the farmhouse.
The kitchen garden demonstrates that not so long ago, many families grew their own food. They would harvest it and eat it fresh, and preserve the rest through drying and canning. By the 1930s, when this farmhouse would have come to be, freezing food was also an option.
The Heritage Farm reminds visitors of Albuquerque's agricultural past. It wasn't so long ago that farms dotted the Rio Grande's banks. The farm is a re-creation of a 1930s farmstead. During the festival, demonstrations take place on canning, embroidery, quilting and more. The house is made of adobe bricks. The area around the Botanic Gardens still has adobe homes, and some which are made of terrone, sod bricks, cut from the banks of the Rio Grande.
Musicians perform both days at the festival. You'll find them at the farmhouse, relaxing on the front porch, entertaining passerby.
Inside the farmhouse, demonstrations take place on quilting, embroidery and canning. These women have come together in a circle much as women did in the past, to embroider or quilt. The embroidery these women are demonstrating is colcha, a traditional Spanish art that uses hand-dyed wool fibers on a plain wool background, or sabanilla. The patterns are of colorful flowers, animals and birds. Colcha embroidery pieces are used to decorate walls, or used for household items such as bedcovers.
Heritage Farm has an adobe barn that houses chickens, a Percheron draft horse, a paint horse, alpine goats, a Jersey cow, churro sheep and Dominique chickens. Children love visiting the animals. Workshops on keeping chickens in the city are put on by local volunteers. Here a young girl learns about chickens firsthand.
Kids love going through the barn and finding a wagon on the other end that will take them for a ride around the farm.
Making a Scarewoman
The festival features hands on activities for kids, and one of the most popular activities involves making a scarecrow. The farm provides the materials and know-how, and kids supply the energy. Scarecrow men and women dot the farmstead landscape.
Many come to the Harvest Festival every year to purchase the apple cider. Most seasons are good ones, with many grapes and apples available to be turned magically into cider, vinegar and juice. Some of the apples go to the zoo animals. Some are turned into baked goodies for the Shark Reef Cafe.
The cider is made fresh in the barn with the help of an apple press. The cider is not pasteurized and has no preservatives. There is nothing like fresh cider! Workers and volunteers run the apples down the chute where they are squeezed for juice (cider).