THIS YEAR WE ARE spotlighting people we call Movers & Makers—entrepreneurial folks whose efforts contribute to an improved economy, quality of life, or visitor experience in New Mexico. In this issue you’ll meet two more, who operate at opposite ends of the state in utterly distinct fields but have something important in common, too: They’re both utilizing vital strands of the state’s DNA to push forward 21st-century innovations. Preston Mitchell is a scion of the first family of chile in Hatch—his great-great-grandfather, Joseph Franzoy, pioneered commercial chile farming in the region that’s become known as the Chile Capital of the World. I found out about him through the Arrowhead Center, a business incubator at New Mexico State University, where he’s considered one of their recent success stories. No matter where you live, Mitchell says he can get you some fresh chile within two days of its harvesting. Mitchell’s genius—reported on by Deborah Busemeyer in “Hatch, the Next Generation”—is for applying emergent technology to the traditional family business.
“It’s incredible to think they had the right idea so long ago,” Mitchell says of his forebears, “and were doing the same thing we’re doing now. Agriculture in general is making this movement toward farm-to-table and transparency—knowing where your food comes from. That movement is really bolstering the business model he had a long time ago.” Mitchell employs up to 75 people during chile season—and he’s only 26 years old.
Matt Thomas is doing something similar for Taos’ creative life. Last year, the town celebrated the centennial of the Taos Society of Artists, a cultural legacy that Thomas is extending by producing an ambitious annual public arts happening called the Paseo. You might call him a 21st-century art colonist. He’s also an artist, architect, gluten-free baker—and all-around mover and maker.