During our recent Garden Writers Association Symposium in Tucson, AZ, we toured local gardens. Of particular interest to me was an organization whose mission is to "conserve ancient heirloom [seeds], strengthen local food systems, and educate communities about seed saving and sustainability.
Native Seeds/SEARCH, is a 30-year old non-profit dedicated to preserving the native crop diversity of the Greater Southwest. Founded by the "father of the local food movement", Gary Paul Nabham, the organization maintains a collection of nearly 2,000 unique crop varieties of aridlands, many rare and endangered, and brings conserving our heritage seeds into the news.
From "Seed School" that trains people to build sustainable local seed systems rooted in ancient traditions, to Seed libraries and the Heritage Grain Alliance, focused on revitalizing heritage grain production, Native Seeds/SEARCH, was a fascinating eye-opener and gratifying to visit.
As we toured the displays of seeds and collection of plants collected from natural settings, we came away impressed and inspired by this small band of dedicated people working diligently to gather, safeguard and distribute seeds to farming and gardening communities.
Do you have a similiar organization near you or know of one that helps preserve crop heritage? If so, we'd love to know. And share your thoughts on this growing movement!