Las Cruces: A Food Desert

Las Cruces is a food desert and its time to take action.

Defined by the USDA, food deserts are parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.

Doña Ana County is a large, rural county with widespread communities. Many residents have difficulty getting to a full-service grocery store that sells fresh, affordable food. Even in Las Cruces, a poor neighborhood near the heart of downtown doesn’t have a grocery store within a mile of people’s homes. Seniors often rely on relatives for rides and get to a store infrequently, making it challenging to buy produce that won’t spoil. 28% of the county’s residents live in USDA-designated “food deserts.” Countywide, about three-quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, but this reaches close to 100% in the southern Gadsden school district.

Chihuahuan Desert Charities is taking the bull by the horns.  We are teaching students at Las Cruces High School the importance of composting and creating nutrient-rich soil.  At Legacy Farm, with land donated by First Christian Church, they are making bioreactors and learning sustainable agriculture, conducting hands-on scientific experiments to test specific farming techniques, for example, the effects of biochar as a soil amendment to improve soil moisture and reduce water usage. These are invaluable skills that with the necessary support can offer a sustainable and productive alternative to the expansion of large‐scale, capital‐intensive, labor‐displacing corporate farming.  

We have food deserts in our cities. We know that the distance you live from a supplier of fresh produce is one of the best predictors of your health.” (Michael Pollan)

Legacy Farm will produce healthy food, as part of our DYGUP/Sustain program, which will be donated to the Food Pantry at the First Christian Church, El Caldito Soup Kitchen, and used in the local area school lunch program to help combat hunger, malnutrition, and improve access to fresh healthy foods for vulnerable members of our community.

Desert Survival Food: Cactus Fruits

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings."  

MASANOBU FUKUOKA, The One-Straw Revolution

The DYGUP & SUSTAIN Program is a non-profit dedicated to regenerative organic agricultural practices to teach the benefits of land stewardship in the Paso del Norte Region. DYGUP, an acronym for Developing Youth from the Ground Up, is available to youth ages 14-17. The SUSTAIN program targets adults over 18 and combines "Roots Of Success" Environmental Literacy Curriculum with intensive farmer training. The DYGUP/ Sustain Program has many partnerships in the community including Taylor Hood Farms, Backyard  Farms LC, First Christian Church, and Las Cruces High-School. Chihuahuan Desert Charities is proud to be the fiscal sponsor for DYGUP & Sustain and support their important work in the Las Cruces community.

Support the DYGUP & Sustain Program at Legacy Farm in Las Cruces by visiting