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    Blog — las cruces

    A Christmas Story: How Organ Mountain Started

    A Christmas Story: How Organ Mountain Started

    A Christmas Story: How Organ Mountain Started

       Humbled. That’s what I tell people when they ask me about Organ Mountain. There are many blessings about our story, but it wouldn’t be a story if we didn’t talk about the journey. A journey that has taught us more in the moments of heartache and pain than we ever could imagine in those moments. In this holiday season, I reflect upon those stories that led to this one about Organ Mountain Outfitters. Here are a few snippets of how we got here today.

       I was in 5th grade, and I sat at the desk drawing in my notepad. I had a pair of white sneakers that were too small for my growing feet. It was the first day of school, and everyone had on new, shirts, pants and shoes. Everyone was excited to see one another and proud to wear the latest and coolest gear. I sat at my desk drawing. My toes were sticking outside my shoes, and I was growing fast. The day before, my mother took me to Dollar General to buy some blue sweatpants and a yellow t-shirt that would be my outfit for the year. I would have to wear this outfit for the time being, and it was all I had. I wasn’t mad, but I was sad. I would also have hope and faith. I would draw the symbols of Nike, Adidas, and Reebok into my notebook and try to draw my logo that would someday grace my own clothing company. I would sketch shirts, pants, and shoes. In my heart, I hoped to help eventually, other kids like me. Kids who were from broken homes. Kids that were abused. Kids who had no electricity or running water. Kids whose parents couldn’t pay for their school lunches. I didn’t know how but I dreamed about someday.

       I didn’t draw much after middle school. I was lost. A wanderer wondering where I would fit in. I loved sports, I loved music, I loved the arts, I loved film and in all this love I never truly fit in. School became boring to me as I saw what waited for me after graduation. Go to college and get a job. A career that would last a lifetime? That’s a little scary and unsettling for someone who didn’t even know who they were as a person yet. I never met my real father and while my mother tried her best we had this great divide between us with my step-father. So here I was in this circumstance-a cycle that would repeat itself if I wasn’t careful. How do you escape the cycle? You have to believe. You have to develop a self-worth. You have to take responsibility for where you are heading, as you grow up. As an adult, I would feel sorry for myself and wonder why everything was being done to me. Why didn’t we have a home? Why didn’t we have food? Why didn’t we have a loving family? Why God, why?

       It took a while. It took some time. It took me going to six different colleges. It took me finding a woman from Las Cruces to provide me with a love I never had. She taught me about family, traditions (which I loathed - because I didn’t have any), and stability. She has provided a safe and beautiful home for our two little children. She has been my mountain of faith and love. She was born and raised in Las Cruces. Her father and mother were small business owners that served our community for over 30 years, and it would be from them where I would learn the traits to help me start Organ Mountain. Her father, Mark Stansell, didn’t try to ever be my lost father but he showed me how to take care of his daughter and a family. He showed me how to be consistent in our work. He showed me how to value everyone around us. He taught me stability.

       We lost Mark, last July to cancer. The same month we set up our first booth at the Farmers Market in 2016. When we found out he had prostate cancer in late 2015, we didn’t know it would be as progressive as it was. It’s tough losing a parent. I had lost my mother and step-father five years ago, and it was the hardest thing I ever went through. It was a chapter in my life that came to a close. It was hard. I didn’t understand why I had to lose my mother. I wanted more time with her. A time to connect and hug. A time for her to spend with her grandchildren. I wanted that lost time given back to me. It’s so hard losing someone. My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Cynthia Stansell, were there for me in those tough times. They were my family. They taught me so much. Now my father-in-law had moved in with us and was dying of cancer. We all thought he would get better. We hoped he would beat cancer. He was the family’s rock. He was the man of our hearts. It’s tough to type these words. I knew I had to do something. My wife would no longer have her father to lean on, and I was still struggling myself to find myself in work. I had been running a semi-successful creative agency, but I didn’t have any experience, and I found myself making a mistake after mistake from a business standpoint. I had to step back and look around me. Look back at my experiences. If I had to start one company now that I truly loved and would be insanely passionate about, what would it be?

       I wanted to work outdoors. I wanted to spend time with my family outdoors. Growing up in Northeast Oklahoma in Native American Territory of the Ozarks was where I found my peace. It was running through the creeks, bluffs, and hills where I could escape it all. I enjoyed nature; I enjoyed being outside. Honestly spending my time outdoors from sun up until sun down was how God saved me. He gave me a path all along, but I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t paying attention because I was feeling sorry for myself. Look at the time spent outdoors. Look at how hard your beautiful mother tried to bring her community together. Look at your father-in-law and how he grew businesses and his family. Look at your community. Look around and see the beauty in the mountains. They are calling.

       This Christmas Day I’m thankful for what Organ Mountain Outfitters has been able to achieve with bringing our community together, giving back to the students on reduced lunch programs at the Las Cruces Public Schools, and inspiring New Mexicans to enjoy our public lands. So when people ask me, and I say I’m humbled, this is why. It’s not perfect, and it has taken a lot of unexpected pain and heartache to be here today. I’m grateful. I’m thankful for you and your support, and I understand the responsibility we have to grow this little brand that started off with a booth at the Las Cruces Farmers Market. We want to be a brand that proudly represents the southwest. We want to be a brand that draws attention to and inspiration from each diverse culture in our region. We want to be a brand that brings the community together. We want to be a brand that gives back to our children. We want to be a brand that inspires people to spend time outside.

       A reporter asked me what we were doing differently to market the region that people are falling in love with. I said that we are doing nothing different. All we are doing is telling stories of the people that have been here for generations. We are just showcasing the values of our community. Hard work. Family. Giving back. That’s all. We have a responsibility to the generations that came before us to continue their story. A story about a mountain and the community that lives in the valley.

    Merry Christmas,

    Chris Lang

    Food Truck Fridays - Luchador Food Truck

    Food Truck Fridays - Luchador Food Truck

    Organ Mountain Outfitters Food Truck Fridays – Luchador Food Truck Interview

    OMO- “What is your name and what do you do?”

     LUCHADOR- “My name is Ivan Saenz, I am the owner of Luchador Food Truck. My wife is actually the owner, but she lets me work here.”

    O- “Tell us about your product and your business.”

    L- “Well, I graduated from NMSU with a restaurant and tourism degree. There’s not a whole lot of options here in Las Cruces so in 2013 we decided to make our own jobs, so we started the food truck. Ya know, we go to Mexico a lot so we were inspired by all the Mexican street food, you know, some of the best meals we’ve ever had. Ya know, fish tacos by the sea, asada tacos on a little street corner somewhere. So, we decided we wanted to do something like that and that’s where we went.”

    O- “What is the one thing that really defines you or separates you from other food trucks and restaurants?”

    L- “Ya know, we try to do things a little different all the time… We’re always trying to push the envelope. We’ve done just things like on our regular menu and we’ve done four-course meals, five-course meals out of our trucks. We’re trying to bring in, ya know, it’s like the whole experience, really. We want [people] to feel [a certain way]. So, when we put out a product or put out anything, we want people to have the whole experience. So, the Luchador theme, ya know, like, everything on out menu has a luchador name… everything is wrestling themed.

    O- “Do you think you will stay with the food truck in the long run, or what do you think the future holds?”

    L- “The food truck scene in Las Cruces is definitely growing. You know, there’s a lot of other food trucks that have come into the scene, and all of us together, I’ve said it before, I don’t see other food trucks as competition, I see them more as collaborators. Ya know, getting the word out to all the people about food trucks and the options that they have. Weddings, office parties, house parties, we do a lot of stuff. We can do a lot of cool things… It’s definitely growing, we like what we’re doing, we wake up and do the best we can and people seem to enjoy it.

     O- “What’s the most rewarding aspect for your business and what you do? When you’re driving your food truck away at the end of the day, what makes you come back?”

    L- “Just how people react to us. A lot of people take pictures of our trucks, we have kind of uncanny-looking trucks. This is the third one we’ve had, the first one was a ’63 Ford Red Wagon and we converted that to a food truck, then we had a 1951 Ford Red Wagon, we converted that to a truck, and this a 1972 Winnebago. So, we always kinda try to reinvent ourselves, just to keep being true and to keep people excited. And, when we see our regulars come back week after week it’s very rewarding.”

    L-“Since we started Luchador Food Truck, when we first started, we kind of were thinking the same way [as OMO], ya know, how we can give back to our community. So, we do a thing we call Lucha-For-Hope where we partner up with Casa Peradinos and Tent City and we serve the homeless for free out of our food truck once a month. We’ve done things, ya know, nice, like fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread, marinated pork chops with garlic mash potatoes, we’ve done smoked brisket plates. So we try to do things that are really cool and kinda wanted to get the word out too so people can help us. We’d like to do it more than once a month, so if they contact Casa De Peregrinos or myself, and they want to be involved in something like that, it’s great. Some of our regular customers… We did a wedding one time and I told the groom about Lucha-For-Hope and he’s like, let me know, I want to go volunteer, so he came one of the days and he helped us serve the homeless. That has actually been one of the [proudest] things that we’ve done, just because of the reaction from some of the homeless, ya know, they are very, very grateful. And we try to do meals that maybe they haven’t had in a long time, ya know. And it shows, ya know, they’ll come back and tell us ‘that was amazing’ or ‘this is great what you are doing’. So, in the same realm of giving back to the community, I wanted to share that with Organ Mountain Outfitters…We’ll probably be scheduling one within the next two or three weeks for [May].

    “We did a triple decker smoked cheese sandwich, so we did, like, smoked gouda, cheddar, provolone on Texas toast. And then it was like a Big-Mac, ya know, bread, cheese, bread, cheese, so it was like a huge sandwich. And then we did a creamy tomato basil soup, ‘cause it was winter time and it was really cold out, and we wanted to do something warm, to really warm them up. So they came over, we served the homeless, usually it’s between 50 and 75 or 80 people that usually come to our line. But, this one gentleman, he came back, ya know, older gentleman… It was very emotional. Ya know, his face was kind of dirty, you could tell he had been crying because he had clean little tear streaks. And he told us, ‘you know what man, that was my favorite food growing up, my mom used to make me the exact same thing. Grilled cheese and tomato basil… I haven’t had that in I can’t tell you how long and I just want to tell you I really, really appreciate. It was delicious…” And, ya know, I mean, that just melts your heart. We were just like, come on let me give you some more, take some with you, please, ya know what I mean. So, like I said they are very responsive to that kind of stuff. Ya know, when you can give them something that they appreciate that much, ya know, it’s like, why couldn’t we budget that… We’ve been doing that since we first opened, its gonna be four years this year since we opened.”

    (talking now about a burger grill off)

    “We’ve actually entered two burger grill-offs against some of the other food trucks here downtown and both times we’ve won first place… We won first place with the Rock, which is like a Hawaiian burger, it’s got pineapple, ham, and burger [patty]. And then the other one we won with was, we call it the Bam-Bam Bigelow Brisket Burger, so it’s a burger with brisket and Chipotle mayonnaise, and it’s really good. So, both times we entered, both times we’ve won first place, so, we just kinda wanted to rub it into the other trucks’ face (jokingly) every time I get, its pretty funny. But, ya know, they all do great stuff, so for me to win those awards it means a lot to us because we are going against such great other trucks.”

    Interview by Kobi Shillings - Instagram @kobiwayne

    Food Truck Fridays - 138 Food Truck

    Food Truck Fridays - 138 Food Truck

    Organ Mountain Outfitters is dedicated to telling local stories of our community. This week we feature 138 Food Truck. You can catch them every Saturday at the Las Cruces Farmer's Market.

    Organ Mountain: What's your name and what do you do?

    Ben Wood: My name is Ben Wood, I'm the owner of 138 Food Truck.

    OM: Tell us about your product and your business.

    BW: Our menu changes all the time, what we do is we make almost everything in house from scratch. All of our sauces, proteins, make our own dough, the only thing we don't do is bake our own bread. We move along with what's really exciting to us at the time and we make it from scratch.


    OM: What do you think the future holds?

    BW: That's a tough question (laughs), I've thought about that a lot. We've thought about brick and mortar and we've thought about kind of branching off and doing another one (truck) and maybe offing this and doing something totally different. But to be honest there's a lot of benefits for what we're doing now, I have kids and I get to spend a lot of time with them, my schedule is a little more flexible than most. So, I feel like we will stick with what we are doing for a while longer. I'm not really closed to any opportunities at this point.

    OM: After you leaving the Farmer's Market every Saturday what brings you back?

    BW: You know when we have a busy day and the truck's a mess and we're cleaning up and I'm putting everything away and I'm driving this truck away, I have this sense of pride. As I've put it into gear, this is all me and I get to make all the decisions and we get to do whatever we want to do. That makes it really fun and really rewarding. When we come to Farmer's Market we have a lot of repeat customers and people who come and say what are you doing that's new this week or this month and so I feel there's a little bit of a customer connection at the Farmers Market. That's always nice because I feel we are a little bit more in touch with the people we are feeding. I love that, I think it's fun! 

    OM: What's your name and what do you do?

    Mina Smith: My name is Mina Smith and I'm a line cook and also student midwife but this pays the bills and I really, really enjoy it!

    OM: Tell us about your product and your business.

    MS: 138, we kind of started out with a very set ideal of what we wanted to do and we weren't taking advantage of the freedom that we had and we also realized we needed to expand more if people were going to buy our food. We make good food from scratch, kind of classics re-done in a way that is inspiring to us and accessible to people of Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

    OM: What's the one thing that defines you?

    MS: It's quality but also speed. We want to be fast and people expect a food truck to be fast but we're not going to sell something subpar for speed so quality is king but we also want something to be super duper fast. So we are able to produce something that is unique, fresh, very balanced flavors but in 5 minutes or less which is a huge deal. 

    OM: What do you think the future holds?

    MS: We're just gonna keep on trucking. We think the food truck is a really unique experience and an unique opportunity for cooks specifically we have a certain type of freedom and we're able to change our menu all the time and people have accepted that. We're just going to keep cooking!

    OM: After you leaving the Farmer's Market, what's the most rewarding part?

    MS: I was kind of surprised about how adventurous people will be at the Farmers Market. The first time we did Kimbap was last week, I really wanted to do it and Ben didn't question it and we, SOLD OUT! And I was so proud of Las Cruces! Driving away from the market I was like I sold hella Korean rolls, seaweed rolls! I was proud of Las Cruces for branching out and supporting local businesses. I'm proud to be a Las Cruces native cook. It's really exciting to make good food and have my own city support it. I pay my bills cooking good food in Las Cruces, that's pretty wild. You know to make money off that is icing on the cake. We're becoming more of a food town, with more variety and people value food in a different way, people appreciate novelty. Food with a little bit of heart.

    Interview & Photography by Kobi Shillings - Instagram: @kobiwayne

    Food Truck Fridays - Wannabe Farms Food Truck

    Food Truck Fridays - Wannabe Farms Food Truck

    Organ Mountain: Who you are, and what do you do and what inspires you to do it.

    Gabriel Payan: My name is Gabriel Payan and I’m the owner of Wannabe Farms food truck. We started out this business as local farmers and we saw that the need was for a farm-to-table truck that made everything out of the market here locally. So, I became a chef, to a farmer, to now back to a chef again. And it’s one of the things we love the most. I love making food and then seeing the reaction on peoples face that they can be like, “Wow, this is local food.” And it’s all local, all locally produced and locally sourced…we’re the local guys.

    OM: Tell us more about your product and your business.

    GP: We are Las Cruces’ first farm-to-table truck, meaning we try to get as much of our produce and local products from locally sourced places. If we don’t grow it, we know the person who does. Everything we try to do is based off of the Las Cruces downtown (farmers) market.

    OM: What separates you from other food trucks?

    GP: The thing that separates us the most is that we are farm-to-table, we try to get everything as locally produced. Our menu is never the same, it changes usually on a two week basis. What I can find in the market is what we sell in the truck.

    OM: What do you think the future holds? Do you want to keep doing this down the road or do you want to open up a restaurant eventually?

    GP: We're not sure about the restaurant right now, but we definitely feel like we’ll be doing this for the long haul. The other thing we do a lot of is music promotion throughout the town. We know a lot of people throughout the country and as they’re touring we try to promote their music and use the truck as a promotion tool. But other than that, yeah, we’ll be doing this for I think the long haul, my friend.

    OM: Once you close up shop and you’re headed out of the market, what do you take away from the day, what experiences makes it worthwhile? 

    GP: What makes it worthwhile is the comradery between market vendors and us. Where, every morning I walk out and go shopping, see what the market has to produce and what I can make. After that, when we leave, it’s a sense of community, that we’re all in this together and we just try to make the community a better place to eat and live in.

    Interview & Photography by Kobi Shillings - Instagram: @kobiwayne

    OM Stories + Floriography

    OM Stories + Floriography

    Welcome to the world of Floriography Flowers, where farm meets florist. They aim to honor our environment and agricultural heritage in a way that delights the senses. Their flowers are farmed with love from seed, to stem, to your special day. Let them create something lovely for you!

    Read more