Archive » SPREAD 4.0 » SPREAD 4.0 Finalists » New Mexico Acequia Association

New Mexico Acequia Association

Mayordomo Project
Posted on: September 3, 2013


Acequias are the centuries-old irrigation ditches that traverse our state’s river valleys to deliver water to the agricultural fields that feed our families using traditional, sustainable practices embodied by acequia culture. One way that we engage the acequia community is through our Mayordomo Project, which addresses loss of cultural knowledge and inadequate replacement of New Mexico’s mayordomos, or “ditch bosses”, who play a key role in the equitable distribution of water to parciantes, or irrigators, who have grown healthy food for our communities for centuries. The purpose is to document local knowledge surrounding mayordomo activities and foster the transmission of that knowledge from our current mayordomos to the next generation. Using a pilot internship process involving a mayordoma-in-training, the project team gathered video footage of mayordomo activities and created a Mayordomo Handbook & Field Guide as well as a short film, “The Art of Mayordomía”. We are expanding our efforts to perpetuate the model in other communities and have already recruited the next cohort of mayordomo trainers and trainees to participate an internship. We are developing the next steps that will enable us to review, evaluate, and learn how the internship process can be improved to help refine and ext the recruitment/training program.


SPREAD support would cover the cost of making copies of a tool-kit for community distribution with the hope that it will generate dialogues surrounding acequia culture and its inherent ties to our land, water, and food to ensure the future of our communities is healthy and vibrant.


The tool-kit, which consists of “The Art of Mayordomía” DVD, Mayordomo Handbook & Field Guide, a template flyer for community film screenings, and a list of questions for community discussion; is anticipated to be available for distribution in acequia communities by November 2013.


This project is important because it can help to ensure the perpetuation of traditions in our culturally vibrant acequia communities. Our food traditions have long been an important aspect of acequia culture and the Mayordomo Project has a direct connection to food production in New Mexico. As a water management regime, acequias are more than simply an irrigation ditch; they are local bodies of government with elected officials and the mayordomo works to keep the water flowing through our communities and ensures equitable water distribution, which in turn ensures that our communities have the water to grow their food.