What is the Llano Estacado?

Llano EstacadoThe Llano Estacado is one of the largest mesas on the North American continent, spanning both sides of the Texas-New Mexico state line. Its western boundary is the Mescalero escarpment, just east of the Pecos River Valley in New Mexico (NM). The Canadian River Valley in the Texas (TX) panhandle bounds its northern area, while its eastern boundary stops at the Caprock escarpment. The Llano’s southern boundary is less defined and blends into the Edwards Plateau. The Llano Estacado comprises 33 Texas counties and four in New Mexico. Its entire area covers around 32,000 square miles. Major population centers within this region include: Texas cities of Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa and New Mexico cities of Clovis and Portales.

Believe it or not, human beings have lived on the Llano Estacado for over 12,000 years! As our ancestors confronted a similar semi-arid landscape prone to long and frequent droughts, they hunted and migrated across the Llano for thousands of years because it was a place where they could find or trade for food.

Since Anglo settlement over a century ago, we have transformed this huge mesa into one of the most intensely farmed regions in the world– where close to four million acres are filled every year with cotton, peanuts, corn, hay, winter wheat, and sorghum. In addition, approximately 300 confined cattle feeding operations (CAFOs) form a pivotal link in a global food chain.

Because most of the harvest from our acres becomes feed for livestock or ends up in far away commodity markets, citizens of the Llano consume very little that grows from our soil–we live here without being dependent on local landscapes for the majority of our food.

Local Llano aims to transform our region’s foodshed, with stories and examples that will increase options for local food choices. We write about tomatoes and cucumbers, post “how-to” blogs about growing plants folks seldom consider, like Swiss chard and winter squash, and other items that are easy to grow, highly nutritious, and make tasty meals. Growing foods may not be for everyone, so we also include stories on how to preserve produce, i.e., freezing whole tomatoes, making sauerkraut, canning green beans, and drying fruits.

In a land known for extreme temperatures, high winds, and only a metropolitan areas; you can still find delicious, healthy, and reasonably priced foods that are produced and prepared locally. The guiding principle for Local Llano’s blog and Facebook is that growing, preserving, and consuming local food can strengthen communities and improve economic, ecological, social, as well as spiritual health.

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