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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
11 AM - 12:30 PM
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.

Saturday, September 23rd: Cowpeas


Fall Planting Workshop

Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Center, 3584 E. River Road in Tucson
September 23, 2017
9AM to 11AM
$10 suggested donation.
The fall season is a great time to plant many vegetables in the desert. Join us in learning the basics of fall planting in the desert. We will go over what vegetable and wildflower varieties to plant, plus numerous gardening techniques. Please RSVP by emailing Carly at or calling 520-622-0830 ex 112.


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.

Phoenix Public Market - Pop-up Shop and Workshop

Every 3rd Saturday August - December
8 AM - 12 PM
721 N Central Avenue (Central and McKinley)
Join us for a pop-up shop during the weekly Saturday farmer's market. We will have seeds for our favorite varieties to plant in the Phoenix area, heritage food products, and information for you to succeed with your garden. Occasionally we will also have seasonally appropriate plant starts. At 9 AM there will be free workshop. Aug: Water Wise Vegetable Gardening in the Desert. Oct: Basics of Seed Saving. Nov: Desert Foods for the Holidays - Mesquite, Tepary Beans, Heritage Corn and Wheat. Dec: Starting and Saving Tomatoes in your Desert Garden.

Seed Exchange!

Mesquite Branch of the Phoenix Public Library
Saturday, September 23rd
11AM to 1PM
4525 Paradise Village Pkwy N. in Phoenix
Join NS/S, the Seed Library of the Mesquite Branch, and Master Gardeners for a seed exchange!  Bring your saved seeds to share and swap with others. Find out more information about local gardening and seed saving. Fun for the whole family!

Lecture: Aridlands Farming in the Southwest

Gilbert Historical Museum
October 3rd
7-8 PM
10 S. Gilbert Road in Gilbert
Join NS/S for a free public talk about 4,000 years of agricultural history in the Southwest. Learn how people adapted crop varieties and farming techniques to thrive in our hot and arid climate and what that means for the future of food production. 

Prickly Pear and Mesquite Milling!

Cooper Center for Environmental Learning
Saturday, October 7th
9AM to 1PM
5403 W. Trails End Road in Tucson
Solar cooking with the Solar Guild of Tucson, Demonstrations on how to safely collect prickly pear fruit, extract the juice, and make jellies and syrups, History of the prickly pear, Prickly pear products and other desert treats available for purchase, Mesquite-pod milling into flour (please bring your mesquite pods and a container; milling fee of $3 per gallon; cash or check only), Telescopes for safely viewing the sun, Refreshments and desert products available from San Xavier Farm Co-Op, Big Skye Bakers, Native Seed/SEARCH, Prest Coffee, just to name a few!

Cool Season Vegetable Gardening in the Desert

Mesquite Branch of the Phoenix Public Library
Saturday, September 23rd
11AM to 1PM
4525 Paradise Village Pkwy N. in Phoenix
Free workshop all about taking advantage of the cooler season in the desert.  We will present what to plant, where to set up your garden, and how to prepare your soil and watering.  The cooler months of fall and winter is a wonderful time to garden for novices and experienced gardeners.







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