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News from the Conservation Farm: Apprentice Updates

The News from the Conservation Farm Blog posts are written by the 2013 farm apprentices Danielle, Matt, Pablo, Travis, and Francesca.

Since early April, the Native Seed/SEARCH Conservation Farm has been home to a new team of awesome apprentices. Through this blog, we will bring you regular updates of our activities on the farm, and share our photos, recipes and ideas.

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

Desert Native Bees Workshop

Sunday, January 28th
2 PM - 4 PM
NS/S Conservation Center, 3584 E. River Rd. Tucson, AZ
This workshop will empower you to create an environment that fosters successful native bee populations in gardens, orchards, and natural spaces. Learn about these vital pollinators by reviewing basic information about native bees and their contribution as pollinators, focusing on key species and their life cycles, reviewing best plants for native bees, and making your own "take it home" native bee nest from repurposed materials.

There is an $20 (non-member) or $18 (member) fee for the workshop.
Details and RSVP here.

Valentine's Day Wildflower Plant Sale

Friday, Feb. 9th - Sunday, Feb. 11th
10 AM - 5 PM
NS/S Retail Store, 3061 N. Campbell Avenue Tucson, AZ
Native Seeds/SEARCH is once again bringing in the beautiful wildflowers for Valentine's Day. Why buy cut flowers for your loved ones when you can give the gift of LIVING native wildflowers that will bloom for months to come? Aside from living plants, we will also be discounting wildflower seeds all weekend. Hope to see you there!
Facebook Event

2-Day Introduction to Seed Saving

March 24th-25th
9 AM - 4:30 PM
NS/S Conservation Center, 3584 E. River Rd. Tucson, AZ
Two-day course on all things seeds! This course is for gardeners, farmers, herbalists, nurseries, CSAs, non-profits, government agencies and everyone concerned with regional, sustainable and diverse agriculture.
Details here.


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.

Native Seeds/SEARCH Benefit featuring Pedro y Los Lîricos and Mariachi Alma Tucsonense

Saturday, January 20th
7 PM - 11 PM
Exo Roast Co., 403 N 6th Ave Tucson, AZ 85705
Pedro y Los Lîricos and Mariachi Alma Tucsonense --IN ONE NIGHT TOGETHER to benefit Native Seeds/SEARCH! Come check out the new intriguing projects NSS has going and sample from a menu of food from Native Seeds/SEARCH or inspired by this region. Show starts at 7:00 PM with Mariarchi Alma Tucsonense and then 8:00-10:00 with Pedro y Los Lîricos. Bring your dancing shoes!
Facebook Event

Spring Planting in the Low Desert

Friday, February 16th
10 AM- 11:30 AM
Miller-Golf Links Public Library, 9640 E Golf Links Rd, Tucson
Hard to believe it but our "winter" season is almost over and Spring will soon be here! Spring season is a great time to plant edibles in the low desert of the Sonoran Desert. During this workshop we will discuss several different varieties of spring appropriate seeds varieties in arid-lands such as greens, beans, chiles, tomatoes, squash, herbs and more. Other topics covered will include strategies to conserve water, garden bed design and soil preparation, and other tips for successful gardening in arid-lands.

Phoenix Public Market - Pop-up Shop and Workshop

Every 3rd Saturday 
8 AM - 1 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. Details here. 









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