GALLUP, N.M. — Agricultural experts at New Mexico State University are working with Native Americans in the northwest corner of the state to boost interest in backyard gardening.

Officials with NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences say the arid stretch between Gallup and Shiprock used to be home to fruit trees and crops of corn, beans and squash.

As the climate has changed and access to water has decreased, many families have stopped raising gardens so NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service has obtained federal funding for a program to revive the tradition.

During the recent growing season, officials say 19 families were raising backyard gardens. Four schools and three chapter houses also had some form of gardens.

The program helps with fencing, soil supplements, tools, water hoses and drip irrigation lines.