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Famine-Stricken Tarahumara Reunited with Native Seeds from NS/S Collection

The Tarahumara Indians occupy remote slopes and deep canyons of the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua and Durango, Mexico, where they have retreated from the oppression of the modern world. Also known as the Rarámuri, or “foot-runners,” they are renowned long-distance runners with incredible endurance often fueled by consuming pinole made from their traditional popcorn and energy-boosting drinks from their native Chia seeds. They are also highly proficient dry-land subsistence farmers growing diverse crop varieties from seed handed down through generations.

Tepary Bean Recipe Handout Page 1
Tepary Bean Recipe Handout Page 2

Tarahumara families grow nearly all their own food, relying on the beneficence of nature for their survival. However, a decade-long drought combined with unseasonable cold snaps has challenged even the resourcefulness of these indigenous farmers and their hardy seeds. These climate extremes have taken a toll on the Tarahumara, who are now facing serious food shortages after repeated crop failures. As the crisis deepens, desperation has set in. Some villagers are beginning to leave their traditional lives to find work in the cities, while others struggle to survive on dwindling reserves.

The Story of Glass Gem Corn: Beauty, History, and Hope

If you’ve spent any time online recently, you might have noticed a striking photo making its rounds. Feast your eyes on Glass Gem corn: a stunning, multi-colored variety that has taken Facebook and the blogosphere by storm. With its opalescent kernels glimmering like rare jewels, it’s easy to see what the buzz is about. This is some truly mind-blowing maize.

For the staff here at Native Seeds/SEARCH, the viral explosion of interest in Glass Gem has been thrilling—but not surprising. As the proud stewards of this variety (along with the bioregional seed company, Seeds Trust) we are lucky enough to have grown and admired this extraordinary corn ourselves. Rest assured, this is no Photoshop sham. It is truly as stunning held in your your hand as it is on your computer screen. When you peel back the husk from a freshly harvested ear to reveal the rainbow of colors inside, it’s like unwrapping a magical present. And this is a gift that is meant to be shared far and wide.

Upcoming Events

Native Seeds/SEARCH Events

Arid Abundance Community Potlucks

Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Center, 3584 E. River Road in Tucson
4-6 PM, One Saturday a month
Every month we focus on a different food plant that either grows wild or is commonly cultivated in our arid climate. We encourage attendees to bring dishes with Sonoran ingredients, every potluck is an educational opportunity to learn how to identify, cultivate, harvest, and use the many food plants that are present throughout the local landscape. Seed Bank and Garden tours during the event. Free event, all ages welcome.

May 27th, Nopales (prickly pear pads)
July 1st, Mesquite bean pods


Conservation Farm 20th Anniversary Celebration

Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Farm, 45 San Antonio Road in Patagonia, AZ
June 24th, 2017
11 AM to 3 PM
Free event. Please RSVP with you name, contact information, and the number of people in your group to
Tours, activities, and celebration for all ages. This will be a potluck lunch so please bring a favorite dish to share. Comfortable shoes are recommended to enjoy the fields and participate in monsoon season planting.


Introduction to Seed Saving

Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Center, 3584 E. River Road in Tucson
September 9-10, 2017
9 AM to 4 PM each day.
$135 for NS/S Members and $145 for Non-Members. Lunch is included.
This 2-day course is for gardeners, farmers, herbalists, nurseries, CSAs, non-profits, government agencies and everyone concerned with regional, sustainable and diverse agriculture. Scholarships for the course are available to those who have previously participated in our Community Seed Grant Program or Native American Seed Request program. Please email Melissa, Education Coordinator, for scholarship information. Scholarship requests are due by August 15, 2017.  Register here.


A Celebration of Cotton

Native Seeds SEARCH Retail Store, 3061 N. Campbell Ave in Tucson
Saturday, June 10th 10AM to 4PM

Join us in celebrating this historical, oft-forgotten crop! Learn how to prepare "raw" cotton for spinning, characteristics of different varieties, and planting/ harvesting techniques.

Where to find Native Seeds/SEARCH in the community

Come visit us at community events throughout the Southwest. Contact us at if you are interested in hosting NS/S at a community event such as a public talk, festival, or farmer's market.  Please include location, time, possible honorarium, and details about the type of audience and expected number of individuals. We will do our best to accommodate your request.


San Ysidro Festival at Mission Gardens

Saturday, May 13, 9 - 11:30AM
946 W. Mission Lane, Tucson.
Reviving a celebration of our fields and farmers. Activities include:

• Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos • Alabanza by Bobby Benton • Native American four-directions blessing • Presentation by Father Gregory Adolf • Ceremonial wheat harvest, threshing and winnowing • Blessing of fields, food, and animals • Tohono O’Odham Dancers • Tasting of Pozole de trigo •




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