Press and Media

NS/S Receives Generous Grants to Improve Southwestern Food Security

June 5, 2013

The Tucson, Arizona-based seed conservation nonprofit Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S) is pleased to announce it has received two generous grants to further its work in helping to build more sustainable and secure food systems across the Southwest region.

A grant in the amount of $150,000 over two years was recently awarded to NS/S by the Christensen Fund to launch the new “Growing Opportunities for Native American Farmers” program. Additionally, the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) awarded NS/S with a two-year grant of $200,000 to support the organization’s new program, “Laying the Foundation for Climate-Smart Agriculture in the Southwest”.

These grant awards represent exciting new developments in the work NS/S has been doing for 30 years to strengthen the food security of the Southwest through innovative approaches to regional seed conservation. With the “Growing Opportunities” program, NS/S will work to reintroduce traditional crops to the foodways of the Greater Southwest while addressing looming concerns of food sovereignty and security. Activities within this program include offering economic incentives for Native farmers to grow traditional crops, providing free bulk seed to Native farmers to boost farm-scale production of traditional varieties, and offering paid internships at NS/S to Native Americans to learn bioregional seed conservation practices. As a whole, the work performed through this grant will support Native communities in the Southwest to establish more secure local food systems rooted in traditional crops.

Climate change looms as one of the greatest challenges to food security on a steadily warming planet. NS/S is tackling this challenge head-on in its “Laying the Foundation for Climate-Smart Agriculture” program, recently funded by GRIC, which will develop tools and resources to help Southwestern communities adapt their food systems to hotter, drier weather conditions. Among other activities, the program will employ climate-modeling software to connect communities in the Southwest and beyond with those varieties in the NS/S seed bank that will perform well in their region after climate change effects have taken place. Through this work, NS/S is leading the way among organizations taking steps to prepare their region’s food systems for the climatic changes ahead.

Founded in 1983, Native Seeds/SEARCH maintains a living collection of nearly 2,000 varieties of traditional seeds adapted to the arid Southwest. Through their various programs in conservation, distribution, and education, NS/S is helping to build a more diverse, abundant, and delicious world.