May 31, 2007

Preserving seeds and cultures

Preserved seeds restore aboriginal food systemsIn 1983, four Tucsonans involved with feeding the hungry began to worry that seed stock for future crops was disappearing. They contributed $100 each to cover the cost of locating 40 varieties of endangered seeds to ensure those specific strains would not permanently disappear. Now, nearly 25 years later, 2,000 varieties of seeds have been saved from extinction.

"If we had to duplicate our seed collection today, it would be impossible because many of the originals are no longer available," said Barney Burns, one of the original founders. "Ours is a treasure trove that provides an irreplaceable genetic library to draw on as a basis for sustainable, environmentally-friendly Native American agriculture of the future."

"These seeds represent cultures that have survived for thousands of years in the Southwest," said Kevin Dahl, executive director of the organization. "Ancient farmers figured out how to be successful in pretty marginal growing conditions--little water, soil heavy in alkalinity, hot growing conditions. It wasn't an easy task."

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