Crop Diversity for a Resilient Future
At Native Seeds/SEARCH we believe that sustainable access to food by all people in the world is achievable given the right priorities and strategies. In our own region of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, the food system is at significant risk due to global resource depletion, increasing water scarcity, rapid climate change, degrading farmlands, continuing population growth, and already-high levels of poverty.
Native Seeds/SEARCH is in a unique position to address these challenges and contribute to building resilient institutions and communities in our region. Recognizing that resilient food systems are built upon a foundation of diversity, knowledge, and sovereignty, NS/S works to provide access to crop diversity and build local capacity for the conservation and use of that diversity.
Our approach views the intelligent pairing of science with grassroots energy as providing the greatest potential for effecting change.
Our programs fall broadly into the following core areas:
- Seed Bank Conservation. The NS/S Seed Bank collection and Conservation Farm form a foundation for much of our other work. We strive to achieve the maintenance and research of crop diversity from the Greater Southwest and beyond.
- Access to Diversity and Knowledge. Crop diversity and the knowledge of how to use it are valueless if they are not made accessible to those who could benefit from them. NS/S produces and distributes seeds of arid-adapted crops and provides information on their cultivation and uses. Each year we provide thousands of seed packets free of charge through our Native American Free Seed and Community Seed Grant programs.
- Neglected and Underutilized Crops. The region’s food systems currently utilize only a fraction of the plant varieties and species that they could. Neglected and underutilized crop varieties and species hold great potential to contribute significantly to these food systems, and NS/S promotes such crops through all of our efforts.
- On-Farm Maintenance of Crop Diversity. The continuous on-farm cultivation, selection and maintenance of crop diversity is fundamental to the region’s future food security.
- Climate-Smart Agriculture. The Southwest’s agricultural systems must be inherently resilient (adaptable) to climate change, and climate change adaptation is therefore central to the work of NS/S.
- Nutrition and Food Security. The issue of nutritional diversity is too often neglected in discussions of food security. NS/S is committed to engaging with this critical aspect of health.
- Crop Development. Crops have never been static entities, and in this time of rapid environmental change dynamic crop evolution is more essential than ever.
- Human Cultures. The conservation and use of crop diversity is closely tied to the preservation and adaptation of diverse human culture, including agronomic, culinary, ceremonial, artistic, and utilitarian practices.
- Education. Education is a cross-cutting and essential strategy that contributes to all of the work that NS/S engages in. Through our Seed School program and other educational efforts we have provided hundreds of individuals with the skills they need to strengthen their own local seed systems.
We envision a distributed network of community seed banks and custodian farmers which maintains effective exchange, backup and innovation of agricultural diversity and knowledge, with NS/S providing an important supporting role. Through our work, we aim to produce a model of regional development based on local control over seed and food systems but with regional integration.
Please help us in this vital work to sustain our food sovereignty through vibrant, resilient community seed systems.
Your gift directly supports our innovative programs to provide access to seeds of diverse arid-adapted crops. Just as importantly, you will help us in continuing to provide agricultural knowledge and seed system training to individuals and communities throughout the region. Together we are building a more abundant, diverse, and sustainable Southwest!