Our Inspiration

Greenroots Institute takes inspiration from the message of the cottonwood—a tree beloved by people living in the Española Valley. The cottonwood is a symbol of hope, healing and transformation. The message of the cottonwood tree is one of reconnection to nature and to each other. The deep roots of the cottonwood guide us to water and remind us to have hope in the future. Our hope is achieved by embracing our diverse communities through relationships with each other and other species.

Our Vision for the Future

Greenroots Institute is working towards an environmentally, economically, and culturally sustainable future for the Española Valley. We believe the vitality of our communities is grounded in water, food, and economic security and in our rich, diverse cultures. We believe that the future of the Valley is in our hands, and it will take all of us dreaming and working together to weave a future that is best for all of us… and that brings out the best in all of us.

How We Work

Greenroots Institute takes an organic, inclusive, holistic approach to our work with organizations, communities, and individuals in the Valley. We look for areas of common interest in projects and programs that preserve and improve the land, water, agricultural, and economic base of the region for future generations. We are building on long-standing traditions of reverence for nature and the importance of connecting and sharing with each other. Greenroots is exploring and supporting both traditional and innovative solutions to the challenges we face—solutions that are grounded in our traditions of sharing and in the common good.

Program Team

Don Bustos, Founder and Executive Director

Don Bustos is a family farmer from Northern New Mexico, farming land that has been in his family since the Spanish Land Grant of 1598. He was one of the first farmers in New Mexico to receive organic certification and has been certified for over 20 years. Don served as co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Mexico program from 2008-2016, where he focused on training beginning farmers and developing farmer networks throughout the state.

Don served on the USDA’s Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) board and was chair of the Western SARE board from 2011-13. He also serves on the board of the New Mexico Acequia Association and is a former board member of the Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. 

He has received numerous awards including the New Mexico Farmer of the Year in 2006, the New Mexico Organic Farmer of the Year in 2012, and NM State University’s Leyendecker Agriculturalist of Distinction. Don played a lead role in developing the vision and raising the funds for the Santa Fe Farmers Market complex, considered one of the top farmers’ markets in the country.

Frieda Gonzales

Frieda Gonzales lives in the Española Valley and is currently serving as a commissioner with the Acequia del Llano (Santa Cruz).  She has enjoyed meeting parciantes, walking along the acequia madre and seeing the beauty of the land that is fed by its acequia’s water.  Frieda’s family roots are in New Mexico, and she feels fortunate to live in a state with strong cultural identity and heritage.  

Serafina Lombardi

Serafina Lombardi has worked as a Community Organizer for nearly 20 years. Her passions are the land and connecting with community. Coming from a long, unbroken line of subsistence farmers she is honored to keep her family tradition alive within the four walls of the Tewa church. When not engaged in outreach and organizing she can be found walking the hills of Chimayó with her dogs and son.

Joseluis Ortiz y Muniz

Joseluis Ortiz y Muniz, an indigenous, land based, native New Mexican from the Genizaro land grant (La Merced de Santo Tomas el Apostol de Rio de Las Trampas) village of Llano De La Yegua, currently lives with his daughter Corina and life partner Luzero in his maternal village of San Antonio Del Rio Embudo or modern day “Dixon” in the high desert of Northern New Mexico. With roots in traditional agriculture that was passed on inter-generationally through his family, he maintains a traditional land and acequia based way of life on land his family have stewarded since time immemorial. He was born and raised in and grew up farming the High Llanos of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and the low valleys of the Embudo River Valley. He and his family grow corn, beans, squash, chile, legumes, fruit trees, wheat, sheep, horses, pasture and hundreds of other fruits and vegetables. 

For 10 years Joseluis worked with the volunteer and grassroots-community based organization called Los Jardines Institute in the South Valley of Albuquerque. There he volunteered and interned with community leaders supporting them in building and developing land based socially sustainable systems, training farmers, facilitating anti-racism and decolonization training, learning history, studying social movements, developing leaders, and investing time in creating healthy realities where they live, work, play, pray, and learn. He is rooted and versed in Environmental and Economic Justice, Restorative Justice, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Anti-Racism, De-colonizing systems, Land Based Justice and Indigenous Genizaro History. For 4 years he directed programs at La Plazita Institute, working with adjudicated, struggling, addicted, incarcerated, and traumatized youth, families and elders supporting them to transform their lives through cultural and traditional healing. His work and learning in community were part of a journey of self-transformation and self-discovery to overcome.

A proud father and partner to an incredible daughter and a powerful, beautiful and creative woman, Joseluis is; a very active community member; the Community Liaison and Visiting Research Scientist at Sostenga for the GreenRoots Institute at the Northern New Mexico College; the coordinator of the NM Land Based Justice Collective;  a board member of the Biodynamic Association(BDA); and the Mayordomo and Deputy for the Acequia Del Llano del Rio Embudo.

Advisory Team

David S. Henkel

David S. Henkel is Professor Emeritus of Community and Regional Planning at the University of New Mexico where he taught for 24 years, specializing in Natural Resources and Environmental Planning, Rural Community Development, and International Development. Previously he served the State of New Mexico as Director of Economic Development, Director of International Trade, chief planner for the NM office of the Southwest Border Regional Commission, and as a specialist in alternative energy. Dr. Henkel holds a doctoral degree in the Sociology of International Development and two degrees in South Asia Regional Studies. Living in northern New Mexico since 1975, he currently resides in Santa Fé.

Professor José A. Rivera

Professor José A. Rivera retired from teaching in community and regional planning at the University of New Mexico in 2016 after more than thirty years of service. Currently he is a part time research associate at the UNM Center for Regional Studies. His research interests include local water management institutions and the culture of water in comparative regions of the world. His publications include Acequia Culture: Water, Land, and Community in the Southwest, La Sociedad: Guardians of Hispanic Culture Along the Rio Grande, and The Zanjeras of Ilocos: Cooperative Irrigation Societies of the Philippines. He has served as an expert witness in water rights transfer applications in the State of New Mexico centered on the social, cultural and ecological impacts of the proposed changes in point of diversion and purpose of use.

Christina Roessler

Christina Roessler is an organizational, communications, fundraising, and campaign development professional with extensive experience as a consultant, coach, and trainer to non-profit community organizations. She became the founding director of the French American Charitable Trust (FACT) in 1994 and shaped FACT’s grantmaking strategies with a primary focus on community based organizations working for social, economic, and environmental justice. She is one of the founders of the Progressive Technology Project (PTP) and served PTP from 2002-2014 initially as a consultant and then as a staff member, working closely hundreds of organizations to help them increase their communications, technology, and fundraising abilities. She has written articles and reports on a wide range of topics including water use in the West.