Devon G. Peña

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Devon G.
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Research Summary: 
"I was just elected Secretary of the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association in Colorado. In that capacity I am currently involved in a major participatory action research (PAR) project to establish and convene the "First Congress of Colorado Acequias" that will implement and amplify the 2009 "Colorado Acequia Recognition Law." This new law restores some important "first principles" of acequia customary law and allows for our formal organization as acequia ditch corporations. The new law allows acequia farmers to manage community irrigation ditches and their water resources as a "commons" instead of requiring strict adherence to the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation. The recognition law restores the role of "one farmer, one vote," requirements for mutual aid and cooperative labor, and the principle of "shared scarcity." I am also launching a project to convene a conference on "Payments for Ecosystem and Economic Base Services of Acequia Agroecological Landscape Mosaics." I am participating in another new collaborative PAR project focused on developing a resilient and equitable co-management and restoration ecology plan for the restored 80,000-acre "La Sierra Commons" in south central Colorado. This applied environmental anthropology project seeks to apply Ostrum's model of the principles for enduring CPRs to the organization and work of the Herederos Livestock Grazing Association and the Rio Culebra Agricultural Cooperative. I continue my research on the ethnobotany and agroecology of urban agriculture along the entire length of the Pacific Coast with a focus on people from the "post-NAFTA Mesoamerica diaspora." This is part of a collaborative project with Tezozomoc and Rufina Juarez of the South Central Farmers in California. Finally, I continue to do my own work as a farmer, seed-saver, plant-breeder, and philanthropist. I do this through my family's non-profit educational and research foundation, The Acequia Institute. The Institute is located on a 200-acre acequia farm in the San Acacio bottom lands and on the historic San Luis Peoples Ditch in southern Colorado. We live and work at the farm during the irrigation to harvest cycle every year and continue with applied projects in restoration ecology, permaculture, shifting mosaics of annual-perennial polycultures, and plant-breeding and seed-saving programs for the conservation of the genomic diversity and integrity of local land race heirloom varieties of the "Three Sisters" - corn, beans, and squash in the Upper Rio Grande headwaters bioregion."
Sociocultural Anthropology
Agroecology; ethnoecology; anthropology of place and place-making; environmental justice and sustainability; workplace politics; international migration; social movement theory ; environmental history and ecological politics in the intermountain West (Mexico, Southwest USA, Taiwain, China)
Selected Publications