A citizen science, activism and art project to connect people with each other and with place. We are community members, users of our commonly shared resources, artists, officials, and professionals from various sectors working together to understand and improve our water and soil quality along the Santa Fe River.

We all live downstream, so we are all in the same boat. We seek to work with others to address and improve problem areas along the river in a way that respects those downstream, improves the health of the environment, and demonstrates ways that we can be responsible as citizens for our own impacts on our shared resources, and therefore, on each other.

pilot project: myco-remediation tests in Santa Fe

Artist Bobbe Besold and permaculturist and former resident at Santa Fe Art Institute’s Water Rights Residency, Amy Pilling, have been working with Jan Mun, a bio-remediation expert and artist, and former SFAI Water Rights resident, to create a myco-remediation installation – burlap sacks filled with wood chips or straw inoculated with fungal mycelium (the “roots” of mushrooms) that grow locally and regionally. These will be put together in workshops with the community at Santa Fe Art Institute. Working with community members, we will be ready to install a test plot below Santa Fe’s Wastewater Treatment Plant during the summer of 2017. Community members interested in participating or learning more should contact us.


The installation consists of digging a series of small depressions along the effluent stream and placing the myco-remediation bags in the depressions. The installation will include signage explaining the project and discouraging visitors from disturbing the site or picking mushrooms. The goal of the project is to restore/reinvigorate the mycelium in the soil in the hopes that it will consume contaminants. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment, soil samples will be collected and tested before installation, at intervals during the pilot project, and at the end of the pilot project. A secondary goal is to create conversation with city, county and state officials about water quality, citizen involvement and citizen science projects, and bio-remediation.

testing field methods

The photographs above are from our trial run workshop on April 1 at SFAI. Six members of the community spread the sterilized straw substrate, broke apart the oyster mushroom mycelium (seen in the plastic bag in the first image) and mixed it into the straw, and then stuffed that mixture into six small burlap sacks. Each person took one of these home where they will track the growth of their oyster mushrooms which we will harvest for cooking. The remainder (about 18 sacks) will be put together in another community workshop late May 2017. These trials are in preparation for installation of myco-remediation bags for a small pilot project below Santa Fe’s wastewater treatment plant along the effluent stream.


Each of the three mushroom types (oyster, turkey tail and garden giant or stropharia) have been selected for their ability to remove or remediate contaminants and toxins, even those as difficult to deal with as PCBs, heavy metals, and pesticides. The species we will select for the pilot will be species found in and around Santa Fe and La Bajada, New Mexico.

Additionally, the species selected are the focus of research because of clinical trials demonstrating their efficacy against diseases such as cancer in human beings.