The Desert Oasis Teaching Garden is comprised of 2+ acres of land on Albuquerque Academy’s campus. Formerly input-intensive turf grass, the DOT Garden is transforming into an example of regenerative agriculture and regionally adapted pollinator and wildlife habitat.
The Desert Oasis Teaching Gardens was born in the summer of 2013 as a vision for a community-based space for experiential learning and exploration of regenerative agriculture.
Earlier that year, the irrigation west of the Science Building at Albuquerque Academy broke, leading to topsoil loss and erosion. Karen Bentrup, a garden volunteer and experienced farmer, observed these losses and pondered sustainable solutions. At the same time, inspired by other school-based garden and farming projects, Karen Beamish began pondering agricultural possibilities for the space.
Coming together, the two brainstormed potential solutions for the struggling landscape. Gary Paul Nabhan‘s book, Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land, proved exceptionally inspiring. With Naban’s work in mind, and guidance from local experts, the two crafted the vision for the Desert Oasis Teaching gardens with the focus on desert cultivation in the face of climate change.
Before (2013) – topsoil loss and erosion due to a broken irrigation system.
After (2015) – mulch and compost produced on campus were seeded with groundcover to build soil and retain water.