By Brandon Stam
I pride myself in finding places off the beaten path, so I was surprised to find Old Town Farm just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Albuquerque’s Old Town and Downtown. An instant sense of calm came over me when I arrived at the spacious farm’s entrance lined with giant trees. I made my way to a very classic looking house to meet Linda Thorne, who along with her husband Lanny Tonning, has owned and operated the twelve-acre farm since 1977.
As soon as I met Linda I could sense the incredible energy and passion she has for Old Town Farm, or as she calls it, “the green heart of the city.” She has an effervescent personality that is contagious, and an abundance of ideas that blend the traditional roots of the farm with the many changes to the area over the past three decades. Linda informed me that long before Albuquerque was settled by the Spanish in 1706, Pueblo Indians had been living and farming in the area. Old Town Farm borders the oldest registered acequia in North America, the Duranes Lateral, which still provides water for the farm. As we walked around the farm Linda showed me the abundant produce in her garden. Fortunately, she offered me delicious samples, including colorful heirloom tomatoes and perfectly ripe raspberries. The farm also has more exotic offerings such as Shishito peppers, Fushimi peppers, and Misome, a nutritious Japanese green that is great for pickling.
Old Town Farm recently expanded their vegetable garden in order to give their walk-in and bike-in customers more options and quantity, as well as for their customers at the Downtown Growers Market. This expansion resulted in downsizing their horse farm. “Once a horse farm, forever a horse farm!” Linda assured me. She reminisced fondly about how many hundreds of horses have been through the property, which has direct access to the Bosque Trails.
Of all the topics we discussed during my visit, Linda seemed the most energized about Bike-In Coffee, a new weekend activity that they launched in October 2012. Bike-In Coffee invites all kinds of cyclists into Old Town Farm to enjoy great coffee, fresh pastries, and quiche that uses many of the ingredients from the garden. You can access the farm from the bike path on the south side of I-40 between Gabaldon and Rio Grande Boulevard or from the Mountain Road Bike Trail via Montoya. In addition, there is free Wi-Fi, fire pits for when it’s a bit chilly, and you can even pick out fresh veggies from the garden to take with you. Bike-In Coffee will open up again in mid-March on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 8am to 2pm and will be open additional days as the weather warms. The farm has also recently offered its space for weddings and events.
Whether you are from out of town or live in Albuquerque this is a great way to experience the city and its agricultural roots while still enjoying some urban amenities. A number of bike shops in town offer rentals, including Routes (www.routesrentals.com) located right near Old Town on Mountain Road.
949 Montoya Street NW, Albuquerque; 505-764-9116, www.oldtownfarm.com