NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The winners of the 2023 Golden Chile Awards in New Mexico were announced Tuesday. The awards went to those who connected children and seniors with locally grown food, supporting the New Mexico farming economy.

To earn a Golden Chile, applicants are required to establish edible gardens, serve locally grown food, provide gardening lessons and nutrition education, offer culturally appropriate nutrition and gardening instruction, and engage staff, families, and communities in New Mexico Grown programming. 

The Golden Chile Award Program comprises four recognition tiers – Seed, Sprout, Blossom, and Golden Chile – designed to acknowledge varying levels of involvement in New Mexico’s local food movement.  A total of 66 awards were given out to the following groups:

Golden Chile (mature and fruitful program): 

  • A Gold Star Academy & Child Development Center in Farmington 
  • Future Generations in Clovis 
  • Elida Municipal Schools 
  • Farmington Municipal Schools 
  • Roswell Independent School District 
  • Santa Fe School District 
  • Lower Valley and Blanco senior centers 

Blossom (program is reaching maturity): 

  • Bumble Bee Learning Center in Sunland Park 
  • Christina Kent Early Childhood Center in Albuquerque  
  • Christine Duncan Heritage Academy in Albuquerque 
  • Family Resource Center in Deming 
  • Mid-West NMCAP Head Start/Early Head Start in Socorro 
  • My Kiddos Too in Roswell 
  • Serendipity Day School in Albuquerque 
  • Western Heights Learning Center in Albuquerque 
  • Zuni Pueblo Head Start 
  • Albuquerque Public Schools  
  • Dexter Consolidated Schools 
  • Las Cruces Public Schools 
  • Silver Consolidated Schools in Silver City 
  • Las Vegas Senior Center programs 
  • Rio Arriba County Senior Program  
  • Sandoval County Senior Services  
  • Zuni Pueblo Senior Center 

 Sprout (program is growing strong): 

  • Creative Kids Childcare Center in Española 
  • Isleta Head Start, Early Head Start & Child Care Center 
  • Kingdom Builders Preschool and Daycare in Albuquerque 
  • NMSU Head Start  
  • NMSU School for Young Children 
  • Ramah Navajo Head Start 
  • Bloomfield Schools 
  • Clovis Municipal Schools 
  • Cuba Independent Schools 
  • Taos Municipal Schools 
  • West Las Vegas Schools 
  •  Adelante Senior Meals in Albuquerque 
  • Albuquerque Department of Senior Affairs 
  • Catron County Senior Services (Presbyterian Medical Services) 
  • Deming Luna County Commission on Aging 
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo Senior Center 

 Seed (program has potential): 

  • New Mexico Children First in Sunland Park 
  • Isleta Elementary School in Albuquerque 
  • Ch’ooshgai Community School in Tohatchi 
  • Fort Sumner Municipal Schools 
  • Hobbs Municipal Schools 

The New Mexico Grown program awarded its highest amount this year, a total of $3.47 million: $2 million for schools, $300,000 for preschools, and $1.17 million for senior centers.  

School districts, which serve thousands of students locally-grown food each year, will receive more than half of the funds to continue providing healthy eating activities and education, working with students to cultivate edible school gardens, and serving locally-grown food in cafeteria meals. 

“We are thrilled to see so many of our districts recognized in these awards. These honorees serve as role models for all schools and districts in the state on the important connection between our food and how it is grown and the health of our communities,” said Public Education Department Secretary Arsenio Romero. 

“The NM Grown Program allowed locally grown produce and meats to be served to senior centers across the state,” said ALTSD Secretary Designate Jen Paul Schroer. “This enhances the quality and nutritional value of the meals provided to older adults. This year we have a total of 75 senior centers, plus an additional 21 tribes, pueblos and nations participating in the program.” 

A new category that will make its debut at this year’s awards ceremony is the food producer award. The following groups received the award:

  • Anthony Youth Farm in Anthony 
  • Bidii Baby Foods in Gallup 
  • Chispas Farm in Albuquerque 
  • Desert Verde Farm in Santa Fe 
  • Elder’s Greenhouse & Garden in Aztec 
  • Frontier Food Hub in Silver City 
  • Graves Farm & Garden in Roswell 
  • Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms in Cerrillos 
  • Institute of American Indian Arts Land-Grants Program in Santa Fe 
  • Montoya Orchard in Española 
  • Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) in Farmington 
  • New Mexico Beef in Anton Chico 
  • New Mexico Harvest in Albuquerque 
  • Nichols Ranch & Orchards in La Luz 
  • North Valley Organics in Albuquerque 
  • RJ’s Legacy in Shiprock 
  • San Juan College Harvest Food Hub in Farmington 
  • Santa Fe Community College Greenhouse 
  • Silver Leaf Farms in Corrales 
  • The Veggie Shack in Portales 
  • Twin Rivers Farm in Roswell

Representatives from the Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as the Departments of Aging and Long-Term Services, Agriculture, Early Childhood Education & Care, Health, and Public Education, will honor the statewide winners in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m.