Friday, April 12, 2013

SeedBroadcast at Native Seeds/ SEARCH in Tucson.

“What we are really looking for,” the elders replied, “are the seeds for the foods our grandparents used to grow.”
We have just arrived back from the SeedBroadcast 2013 spring tour of the Southwest.  This exploration was initiated by an invite from Greg Esser of Desert Initiative  based in Phoenix, to attend their first ever Feast on the Street art event, (more on this in an upcoming blog). To make the most of this trip we made several contacts in the area and arranged, with the help of many, to partner with other seed organizations in this region to initiate critical dialogues through the culture of seeds, seed saving and local growing practices.

Our first stop was to the Native Seeds/ SEARCH  where the annual spring Seed School was in full swing. The school is a groundbreaking educational program that trains people in the history, science, and business of seeds to construct a new sustainable seed paradigm, .  It was one of those magic moments when the timing, for some reason, was perfect and we were graciously welcomed into the fold.

Bill McDorman, who is now director of NSS is the visionary behind this school and it was through the misfortune of a bicycle accident in Flagstaff that kicked into gear the first seeding of his dream. To hear this unique story and the vision of Native Seeds/SEARCH listen to Belle Starr, Bill's partner and Deputy Director of NSS.

The school attracts a diverse group of seed devotees from all over the world and from a variety of backgrounds and interests. This year's group included participants from Mexico, Great Britain, and the Navajo Nation, an entomologist, a film-maker, those wanting to make a significant change in their lives and those with hopes to start seed companies and co-operatives back in their communities. The students spend a week learning and experiencing the magic of the place, through the exchange of ideas and knowledge in the presence of other seed fanatics and surrounded by the precious seeds themselves.

 The NSS conservatory center holds an active seed bank which is at the heart of NSS conservation efforts. This bank holds approximately 1,900 varieties of traditional southwest crops, over one half of this collection are comprised of the three sisters, corn, beans and squash, with additional unique and rare crop varieties.  To learn more about these seeds and the seed bank listen to Collections Manager, Melissa Kruse-Peeples and Evan Sofro, the Conservation Farm Manager. The energy and passion that emanates from Bill and the other seed facilitators is contagious. You feel yourself becoming swept up in the potential that this seeded landscape holds.  Bill inspires just by breathing.  "It's easy to save seeds," he tells us "just start with a few at the beginning do not take on too much. Take a few varieties and then build from there."

Rowen White from the Mohawk community, seed school facilitator and a seed steward, Joy Hought, the Director of Seed School, talks about her facsination with the science and aesthetics of seeds. The seeds disperse their magic to all that gather, shifting the atmosphere to hope and encourgement.
Closing circle.
Lives are changed, and new relationships are built.  No one looks back, the seeds and dreams are held in reverence. So if you are looking for some hope and perhaps a gentle change from these upside down times we recommend a visit to this unique and special place.

Stephen, Development Assistant, talks about how seeds changed his life.

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