By Mark DeRespinis
On a cloudy afternoon in early June, I visited Freshies Farm in Lyden, on the stretch of the Rio Grande just south of Velarde, to meet with owners Christopher and Taylor Bassett. We stood alongside rows of closely-ranked, v-shaped peach trees in full leaf, beholding a bountiful crop of downy green adolescent peaches. “This is our third full crop of peaches in eight years of running the farm,” Christopher said frankly, though with a gleam of delight in his eye. It was shaping up to be a really good year.
Joel Coleman, owner and chef at Fire and Hops in Santa Fe, puts together a string of superlative-punctuated compliments to describe Christopher Bassett’s bounty from his Freshies of New Mexico farm.
“Someone else does mushrooms, but I like Chris’ better,” Coleman said. “His peaches are by far the best. The same with the blackberries and the sun gold tomatoes.”
When you arrive at the Velarde farm, owned by Chris and his wife Taylor, you encounter the most bucolic scene, one that is almost magical. The Rio Grande flows along the dirt road that borders the property to the south. Beavers and ducks, among other wildlife, make the river their home. Located near the gate is a tree house with a marvelous view of the river. There are also living/sleeping quarters, a pump house with greenhouse for starting new plants and a storage area. All the buildings are surrounded by lush vegetation with an orchard sitting to the north.