Monday, May 14, 2012

Native Seeds

Today my focus is on an organization based on sound thinking.   Just to say it exists, isn't enough.  Over the years, I've grown to really appreciate what Native Seeds does for our community.  This Non Profit Organization educates the public and has a lot of wonderful products for sale.  If you are in the Tucson area and you are a plant enthusiast, this is definitely a place to check out. 
Pics today are from the NATIVE SEED website
"Native Seeds/SEARCH is a non-profit conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Since 1983, we have become a major regional seed bank and a leader in the heirloom seed movement. Our seed bank is a unique resource for both traditional and modern agriculture. It includes 1800 varieties of arid-land adapted agricultural crops, many of them rare or endangered. We promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by distributing seeds to traditional communities and to gardeners world wide. Currently we offer 350 varieties from the collection we steward, grown out at our Conservation Farm in Patagonia, Arizona, and associated products through our online store, annual seedlisting, and our retail store."
It started small and grew bigger.  I remember when it was just a small shop with others on 4th Avenue.  It was here that I learned we could use certain mesquite pods to make pancakes!  So not only do Tucson dogs love to eat the pods; so do the people:)  It's just that most people don't know this.  When your pods fall off of our native varieties here, collect them and take them into this place.  They'll ground them up for you at a small price.  They are really really tasty AND let's say you're diabetic or just want to try something new about Agave Syrup?!!  It's not for everybody but I know several diabetics here who swear by it and are happy for this alternative. Again everything in moderation:)
"Our mission took root when Native Americans on the Tohono O'odham reservation near Tucson wished to grow traditional crops, but could not locate seeds. Traditionally, southwestern Native American farmers produced a great variety of food despite the region's marginal growing conditions. After centuries of environmental destruction, cultural change, and land transfers, these farming systems have survived – but just barely. As late as 1925, the Tohono O'odham people cultivated 10,000 acres in Southern Arizona with traditional floodwater methods. Today, only a few scattered plots remain. For one tribe living near the Grand Canyon, the process has reached its logical and devastating conclusion: all crop varieties have been lost."
Okay that last statement is very sad and true.  BUT like all things lost, there is knowledge gained.  I am happy to say today that farming is coming back around the San Xavier Del Bac area and that makes me smile.   Let's say you live in Tucson, have friends visiting or you are a visitor.....and you're looking for some small souvenirs to bring back for the kids, grandkids, etc. etc.  Native Seeds sells unique treats like Prickly Pear fruit squares.  I think they're good.  Some don't, but I've purchased several items here and handed them out to the kiddos.  They loved them. But obviously there is a lot here for your plant friends who love to read, grow, etc.  
"Crop loss, in human terms, is equally severe. Traditional farmers are a stabilizing force in many Native American communities. They conserve historic seeds adapted to local conditions, keep traditional agricultural and culinary practices alive, donate crops for ceremonies and feast days, and feed extended families from their fields. We are as concerned about the loss of ecological relationships, the traditions of humans and plants evolving together, as we are about the extinction of a single species. When peoples once sustained by agriculture lose their agricultural traditions, their survival as a culture may also be at risk. For many Native American tribes in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, these relationships are endangered. The good news is that a tide is sweeping through Native American communities, traditional crops and foods are again sought for their power to nourish body and soul. Native Seeds/SEARCH is grateful for the opportunity to return the seeds of grandparents to people who seek them, and to make available to everyone this wondrous gift, the delicious joy of seeds." Check out their website at Native Seeds.   For more on Ethnobotany, click here.  It's a post I wrote almost 2 years ago!!  Where does the time go? Wishing you all my best and hoping your spring season gets off to a good start.....I think I am just as excited as all of you. 


  1. Hi There, I'm trying to begin catching up -after being gone for a week. I enjoyed reading about your 'beach' trip also!!!!!

    Buying or growing LOCAL/NATIVE seeds is important I'm sure. Even though we only grow flowers (not veggies)--we do love buying local veggies from produce markets and roadside stands around here. There's nothing better to us than Strawberries grown here in TN and also our Tennessee tomatoes... YUM.

    Hope you have a great week.

  2. Good to know some folks are saving native seeds. Otherwise we'd really be totally stuck with Monsanto.

    I've replace sugar with agave nectar and love it. Also have a sweet tooth for prickly pear cactus fruit anything.

    Great post.

  3. I will chieck it out...all for native seeds and natural traditional ways
    and this year for pesticides or herbicides....woo hoo

  4. I love Native Seeds! I grow Nichols Tomato and Lemon Basil. They also have the very best refried bean smasher on the planet!

  5. Got all the Veggie seeds in Chris, trouble is, the weather has gone back to March!! Frustration!!

  6. A very worthwhile project, glad you shared this.

  7. A great source for native seeds! I have been composting our mesquite pods, but it would be cool to try grinding them for flour. :)

  8. I agree with Betsy. Buying local and planting native are the way to go. What a great post. Have a wonderful week.

  9. Gaelyn is very optimistic or I am very pessimistic!
    What a great Program!
    Have you visited Singh Farm in Phoenix? A great organic place with an amazing couple! They started from scratch and what an amazing job!

  10. great post! over the past few years, i've tried to go more 'native' myself!

    Native Seeds sounds like a much needed project. i'll go wander around their website! thanks :)


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