The East Mountain Seed & Garden Co-op is a non-profit organization that promotes gardening in the area and to share ideas, gardening tips, and seeds with the community. The group is led by six people who make up the leadership team and has about 60 members currently.

“People who are interested in gardening with a step up in seed quality and those who are interested in sharing ideas for what works in New Mexico is who our group is comprised of,” said Steve Corsi, a member of the group.

Membership costs $24 a year which includes seeds, a newsletter, workshops and access to other types of information about gardening in the East Mountains and Estancia Valley.

Members are encouraged to save seeds and redistribute them back to the group’s seed bank.

The seed bank provides seeds to members and are mostly “open air pollinated seed” as opposed to hybrid seeds. Most of the seeds in the seed bank were originally purchased from larger growers and distributors and are predominantly non-GMO (genetically modified organism). “That’s the goal and the intent,” Al Humble, part of the leadership team, said.

“We selected seeds known to be tried and dependable and grow well in our area,” Humble said. He said the group maintains the bank by buying seeds when necessary and by having members recirculate the seeds.

Members can also donate any seeds from successful grows to be added to the library. Humble said they have “an exceptional variety of blue corn” that was donated from a member in Mountainair.

The seed bank boasts a variety of vegetables and herbs including summer squash, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, tomatoes, green beans, dill and corn.

The group also has an annual seed swap event where they swap seeds and information, plant tubers and exchange other types of roots, all in preparation for the next season and hosted at the end of March.

In addition, the group also hosts workshops on topics including seed saving, soil preparation, planting, irrigation and water conservation, how to control insects and weeds, food preservation, food storage and root cellars.

The East Mountain Seed and Garden Co-op will be hosting a poultry workshop on Nov. 13 from 1-3 p.m. where members can bring their poultry (if they want to) and learn how to butcher and process it. For more information visit eastmountainseeds.org.