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Heritage Sonoran Wheat - History, Growing, Harvesting

(Header image courtesy janeandd, Flickr)

Article by Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Education Coordinator, published November 14, 2015.

In the lyrics of America the Beautiful, the line “amber waves of grain” does not necessarily conjure up the image of farmland in the desert Southwest. However, if you were looking out onto the farming landscapes of our region 100 years ago that is exactly what you would have seen. Arizona, southern California, and the Mexican state of Sonora were one of the breadbaskets of America. Not only did wheat contribute to quintessential Sonoran cuisine – such as the large, oversized flour tortilla – wheat was a major cash crop and Southwestern grown wheat was exported throughout much of the country, particularly during the Civil War.

Purslane: Is It a Weed or a Treat?

by Chad Borseth, NS/S Assistant Retail Manager, Published August 19, 2015.

With the monsoon rains rolling across the Sonoran desert, the weeds are growing like, well, weeds. But not all are unwanted guests that suddenly occupy your garden. I personally like to consider them "no effort" annual food crops. They are abundant and resilient plants, and some of them, like Purslane, are edible treats.

A Short History of Panic Grass

by Barney T. Burns, PhD, Co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH

Panic grass, or panicum sonorum, was domesticated in either Arizona or Sonora sometime during the prehistoric period. Evidence of panic grass being grown by the Hohokam Indians has been found in several archaeological excavations in Arizona.

Benne: From Africa to Southwestern Kitchens and Gardens

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Education Coordinator.

Agriculture in the American southwest is a mix of regionally domesticated varieties, from tepary beans that have been cultivated here for several thousand years to watermelons or wheat which were introduced from other areas but have been grown here for a few hundred years. These later introductions are now central to our regional food heritage. A more recent introduction, sesame, also has the potential to be a part of our regional agricultural traditions.

Celebration of Tepary Beans (Part 2)

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Education Coordinator. Published on June 18, 2015.

Tepary beans are one of the most heat and drought tolerant crop varieties in the world. These traits are the result of centuries of adaptation to the unique growing conditions of the Southwest, the ultimate heritage local food. And what makes them even better is that they are delicious and packed with nutrition. What’s not to love! Because most people have not heard of tepary beans, let alone tried them, we put together the following descriptions and recipes.

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