Nenahnezad Harvest Festival honors agriculture

Noel Lyn Smith

NENAHNEZAD — The Nenahnezad Harvest Festival celebrated the culmination of the growing season today with workshops and demonstrations at the Nenahnezad Chapter house.

Home economist Leah Platero blanches a batch of peaches Friday during a canning workshop at the Nenahnezad Harvest Festival at the Nenahnezad Chapter House.

Leah Platero, a home economist for the New Mexico State University Tribal Extension office in Shiprock, demonstrated how to can peaches. Platero's presentation was one of a number that centered on agriculture and science at the event. Participants listened to a short presentation about canning before entering the kitchen for some hands-on learning.

"I believe in extension that you learn by doing," Platero said, adding that participants would start by blanching the peaches.

Platero's tips about canning included a recommendation to use a processing time of 20 minutes due to the region's altitude.

She also stressed the importance of inspecting canning jars for rust and mold. If rust and mold are present on lids and jars, do not use them, she added.

In addition to the presentations and workshops, people sold baked goods, and arts and crafts at the festival.

Bloomfield resident Barbara Yazzie was selling jewelry, a hobby she embraced full time upon retiring after 43 years of teaching science.

Bloomfield's Barbara Yazzie makes a necklace Friday during the Nenahnezad Harvest Festival at the Nenahnezad Chapter House.

Her designs incorporate natural stones, and are inspired by what she sees on television fashion shows and thinking about the jewelry her grandmother wore.

"They always say, 'statement necklaces' …I thought back to our elders, they're always with necklaces. Our grandmothers wore statement necklaces, those bold turquoise layered pieces," Yazzie said.

Yazzie, who is a registered member of Nenahnezad, also enjoys making jewelry because she thinks about how the earth produces natural stones, and materials such as coral and amber.

As she sat at her booth, she also listened to the numerous presentations.

"My antenna went, 'OK, give me some science,'" Yazzie said with a chuckle.

Tracy Raymond is the chapter’s farm board member and a field consultant for Capacity Builders Inc., which helped the chapter organize the event and workshops.

Ernest Diswood gives a lecture on "Healing the Land" Friday during the Nenahnezad Harvest Festival at the Nenahnezad Chapter House.

"I'm amazed at how many people came out, and I'm amazed at how many people are interested in agriculture," Raymond said.

This is the second year for the harvest festival, and it provides time for community members to celebrate their produce, he said.

Within the chapter boundaries, 49 percent of farmland is in use, and the 51 percent of land not in use is due to lack of access to water, he said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.