The Desert Oasis Teaching Gardens is comprised of 2+ acres of land on Albuquerque Academy’s campus. Formerly input-intensive turf grass, the DOT Gardens are transforming the area into terraced dryland gardens, a community Welcome Center, outdoor classroom, fruit and nut orchard, pollinator gardens, and food production gardens.
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 had 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 tours of East Coast, school-based garden and farming projects, Karen Beamish began pondering agricultural possibilities for the space.
Coming together, the two explored the works of dryland farmers, regional cultural historians, and water harvesting experts, to brainstorm 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.
Today that vision has become a reality and our garden continues to grow because of the generous support of our community.
Before – topsoil loss and erosion due to a broken irrigation system.
After – mulch and compost produced on campus were seeded with groundcover to build soil and retain water.