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“The Healing Land: Finding Sacred Connection through Gardening”

A hands-on course for your home garden

Jan. 2024- Nov. 2024

Los Ranchos Agri-Nature Center, Los Ranchos, NM

How we treat the land is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. As our planet reels, and as we accumulate the stresses of our current collective moment, we can find healing in reconnection. This year-long course aims to deepen our connection to the land, and to ourselves, through developing a deeply loving, knowledgeable, reciprocal relationship with our gardens.


This course is both practical and philosophical. As we delve into the nitty gritty technical questions of gardening, we will use these questions to explore larger inquiries about our relationship to life around us. It will require dirty hands, sweaty shirts, open minds, and open hearts. It will require not only the time commitment of the course itself, but also a significant time commitment to your garden beyond the allotted class times.   


All those who want to deepen their relationship to their food, their land, and their planet beyond conventional attitudes that view nature as a mere set of resources are invited to apply. Drawing from a wide range of traditional, permaculture, and regenerative practices, this course encourages students to deepen their approaches to gardening through practical information, deep inquiry, and intuitive knowledge.


A year of gardening together can yield far more than whatever crops we harvest. The deeper yields of beauty, joy, and reconnection will always be in focus, and with all the garden’s bounty, perhaps we can find a healing path among the plants. The process of healing ourselves, and the process of healing the land, are deeply connected and this course is about finding that connection.


What you will need:


-Access to a garden. A garden can be many things, as we will learn in this class. Whether it is a few pots on a patio or 2 acres along the acequia, this course can deepen your relationship to the land you call your garden. There are several options for community garden plots in Albuquerque, and I am more than happy to help prospective students think about and find an appropriate space if needed.


-Basic gardening tools, such as a shovel, gardening gloves, hoe, harvesting knife, or whatever else you feel you need to effectively grow your garden. We will discuss the many options and considerations in detail during our first class. Part of this class, in fact, will be considering how we choose the appropriate tools for our gardens.


-Seeds or transplants. We will go over options in the first months of class, but be prepared to budget for the costs of seeds and plants. We will also cover soil health considerations, which may prompt some gardeners to purchase compost or other amendments, as well.  


-A journal and a pen.


Course Details:


This course will run from January 2024 (the 1st class will be Jan. 25) to November 2024. We will meet once a month on a Thursday evening as a group for 3 hours, where we will discuss the needs of the garden during that part of the season. During this time, we will also share what we’ve learned from the plants, sharing insights and reflections we have gained from spending time in the garden.


In addition to the monthly group meetings, each student will have the option to schedule a one-hour, one-on-one garden consultation with the instructor each month, February through August. These consultation sessions can be either in-person at the student’s garden, or via Zoom.

Gardens often benefit from strong communities, and this course will offer ample opportunities outside of the set curriculum to build a deep-rooted and intimate gardening community with the instructor and other students, which may include seed and tool sharing, labor pooling, transplant swapping, and regularly exchanging highly local stories and experiences on garden issues and conditions.   


Cost: $1500, paid in four installments of $375, the first of which will be due prior to the first day of class. Subsequent payments will be due 3/21/24; 6/20/24; and 9/12/24.

Tentative Schedule of Group Meetings:













Location: The meetings for this class will take place at the Agri-Nature Center in Los Ranchos, NM.


About the instructor:


Willy Carleton brings two decades of experience farming and gardening to this class. He farmed for over a decade in Albuquerque and northern New Mexico, growing a variety of vegetables for market using regenerative and organic practices, and served as co-editor of edible New Mexico for roughly a decade. He earned a PhD in History, specializing in environmental history, and is the author of the award-winning Fruit, Fiber, and Fire: A History of Modern Agriculture in New Mexico. He is a forager, writer, and educator, helping aspiring gardeners and farmers hone their skills and deepen their connection to the land.

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