Published on October 1st, 2013 | by Asaera Patricia Coté0
Viable Sunflower Farming in New Mexico
Holistic, sustainable and eco-friendly are all buzzwords in the new green economy. These words mean nothing unless they actually solve a problem; at least so says local entrepreneur Asaera Coté. She has a problem with a solution she thinks can help a lot of people.
Because of her own sensitive skin she started a handcrafted soap company many years ago in the mountains east of Albuquerque. Her soaps have now garnered a loyal national following because of their skin-softening and moisturizing emolliency. The key ingredient to these spa quality soaps is sunflower oil.
As someone who strives to act globally responsible, buy locally and leave a minimal manufacturing footprint, Coté imagined a sustainable local source of sunflower oil. After a little research, she discovered that the entire Estancia Basin was once covered in sunflowers that farmers tilled under for bean and alfalfa production.
After a little more digging she discovered there is a migration toward the southwest for sunflower oilseed production. “Why not create a new industry” she thought, “that would help New Mexico’s farmers and create jobs for my local community?”
To that end EarthGift Herbals has worked with federal, state, municipal and local rural authorities to analyze the soil, water, seed and economic conditions necessary for viable sunflower farming and oil seed processing. Though still in the exploratory phases ‘The Sunflower Project’ has gathered together a small community of change agents for a more abundant economy and ecology for New Mexico.
The draw of working with the sunflower is its versatility. The sunflower is essentially a zero-waste plant. Given enough imagination, political will and funding many different businesses with subsequent jobs could be established. Cote also reminds us, “Growing sunflowers and having them dot the landscape is a beautification that enlivens the soul.”