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Stories from our Travelers

Fall Harvest in New Mexico

Fall flowers outside an original Ranch building

Morning harvest

Farm road over a stream to the fields
by Jeanne Tasker

[From Fall 2008]

The leaves are turning orange and gold, the nip of fall is in the air, and my thoughts turn to - Raspberries.

At the end of September - or the beginning of October, as this year - my friend and I plan our annual trip to the Salman Raspberry Ranch, in Mora, New Mexico. The Ranch has a u-pick operation, allowing visitors to get back to the earth and participate in a personal harvest.

It is a beautiful drive north and east from Santa Fe, through Las Vegas, NM, and on to Mora, traveling what is known as The Enchanted Circle. Leaving the drier surroundings of Santa Fe behind, the terrain becomes dramatic and lush. Towering buttes line one side of the road, fertile fields the other. Picking at the Ranch begins at 10am. We usually pick for about two hours and harvest 6-10 lbs of berries, apiece, depending on the size and amount of ripe fruit on the vines. The Salman Ranch management has a posted sign that invites pickers to enjoy eating some raspberries as they pick, but, please, not to make a meal of them!

We often have lunch or a snack at the Ranch Café, which make a delicious raspberry milkshake. In the gift shop, one can buy berries, jam, raspberry vinegar and more. And it always seems to be a gorgeous, sunny day for picking.

Homeward bound, but the labor is not over. Now all of those beautiful, delicious berries must be processed, if not immediately eaten. The easiest thing to do is to quick freeze the raspberries on cookie sheets, in a single layer, then pack by the pint in plastic bags. Then, as winter sets in, they are available for use in jams, jellies, and sweet and tart raspberry pies.

History and Details:
The Salman Ranch lies in the area known today as La Cueva Historical District. In the early 19th century the governor of the New Mexico Territory granted 32,000 acres to Vicente Romero and his wife, Josefa. The Romeros tended their flocks of sheep and fished the streams and rivers on the land. They slept at night in nearby caves ("cuevas," in spanish). Vincente named the area, "La Cueva de los Pescadores" (Cave of the Fishermen). After Vicente's death in 1881, his heirs sold off in parcels all of the Romero land holdings.

The original Romero land grant would not be restored until after the second World War. Looking to move his family to safe harbor following the war, Colonel William Salman bought the separate parcels and rejoined the original 32,000 acres.

Salman Ranch has been growing raspberries for over 25 years. The harvest runs from early August until the first killing frost (generally the middle to end of October).
Tel: 575.387.2900 or toll free: 866.281.1515

Jeanne Tasker has hiked the woods of New York’s Adirondacks, the 14,000-foot peaks of Colorado, New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains, Germany’s Black Forest, France’s Belle Isle and the lush valleys of the Dordogne. In this issue, she stays closer to home ["Fall Harvest in Northern New Mexico"]. A former early childhood teacher, active community leader, mother of five and grandmother to eight, Jeanne lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Photographs by Melissa Cicci

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