By Paula Garcia
Driving down any rural highway in northern New Mexico, you are sure to come across a valley with acequias—irrigation ditches that in some cases have existed for several centuries. You might not even notice them, but someone with a sensitized eye would immediately spot the green ribbons of farmland, pasture, cottonwood and willow trees. Simple in their design, acequias move water from a common source of water—a spring or a stream—through a network of ditches to replenish fields that have been carefully tended for generations. These community-based irrigation systems are central to traditions of life on the land that have sustained families in New Mexico for generations and inspired many newcomers to embrace the acequia culture.