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Barney Tillman Burns III, 1945-2014, a Native Seeds/SEARCH Founder and Noted Seed-Saver

by Ford Burkhart

When seeds were feared lost for a particular lemon basil, a young Barney Burns saved the day. His mother, Janet, an organic gardener in New Mexico, had preserved that heirloom variety since the 1930s, and one day ruefully reported the seeds were lost. By chance, Barney, then a University of Arizona student, had that basil growing in a flower box at his studio apartment, and was able to send some seeds back to her. That plant, now in the Native Seeds/SEARCH collection, is prized by chefs everywhere for its citrusy flavor and is known, of course, as Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil.

Barney Tillman Burns III, an anthropologist, archaeologist, dendrochronologist, climate scientist, ethnohistorian and advocate for native arts and handicrafts in northern Mexico, died on Aug. 14, 2014. He was 69 years old.

Dr. Barney Burns, Native Seeds/SEARCH Co-Founder, Passes On, Leaving Us a Legacy of Hope and Humor

by Gary Paul Nabhan, Native Seeds/SEARCH Co-Founder

In the second week of August, the Tucson community, the Greater Southwest, indigenous peoples and farmers everywhere lost a good friend, an extraordinary seed saver and a historian of Southwest food and farming folkways. Dr. Barney T. Burns was far more than a co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH. He spent over four decades linking native farmers and artisans to the audiences, human rights support networks, and applied scholars who cared about them and their future. Trained as an archaeologist, dendrochronologist, climate scientist and ethnohistorian, Barney knew more about Northwest Mexico than anyone I have ever known, both through his first hand experiences and his readings in one of the most extensive libraries of borderlands archives and rare books I have ever seen.

If these details alone suggest that Barney was a stuffy scholar, nothing could be further than the truth. With a wry sense of humor, fun-loving trickery and shaggy dog storytelling, Barney amazed nearly every poor soul that ever traveled with him or dined with him. From the days when he was growing up in Carlsbad, New Mexico in the Fifties, to his very last days in the Tucson Mountains, Barney had a museum curator's penchant for collecting and documenting the material cultures of our region, as if on some wild adventure to rediscover the Holy Grail.

At Native Seeds/SEARCH we believe that sustainable access to food for all people is achievable with the right approaches. At a time when rapid climate change, increasing water scarcity, and global resource depletion are challenging our food systems, crop diversity represents a critical lifeline to the resilient future that we all need.

Native Seeds/SEARCH has worked for over thirty years to keep that lifeline intact in the Southwest. By strengthening the conservation of the region's unique agricultural heritage and promoting its use through seed access and education, we are providing an important foundation for food security. And while our focus has always been fixed on issues here at home, our work has never had more potential for positive impacts in the world at large.

But we need your help. Our innovative and crucial programs are only possible because of continued public support from individuals like you. Please take a moment to make your tax-deductible gift and help us reach our fundraising goal of $60,000 by August 31st.

Your support is crucial. Together we can do our part to ensure food security and build a more abundant, diverse and sustainable world. Thank you for joining us in achieving our shared vision of resilient farms, strong communities and healthy individuals!

Native Seeds/SEARCH is Seeking a New Executive Director

Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S) is seeking a new Executive Director to lead the 30-year old nonprofit conservation organization into its next phase. Please download the E.D. job description (PDF) for additional information. The salary for this position will be in the $60,000–70,000 range. Interested individuals should submit a written statement of interest, not to exceed two pages, along with a CV or resume, to:

Email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mail
Native Seeds/SEARCH
c/o Cynthia Anson, Chair of Search Committee
3584 E River Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85718

Applications will be accepted through August 31, 2014 (note extended deadline).

The Beauty of Huitlacoche

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Conservation Program Manager. Published on August 26, 2014.

Corn is a versatile ingredient. It is fresh roasted, ground to make cornbread or tortillas, dried and reconstituted into posole, and everything in between. But there is one way to eat and cook corn that may come to a surprise to many. Huitlacoche, pictured here, is a corn lover’s delicacy. Trust me, it is edible and delicious.

NS/S Community Seed Exchange Event

Saturday, September 20th
10am-1 pm
NS/S Conservation Center in Tucson

Native Seeds/SEARCH is partnering with Tucson Backyard Gardening to host a community seed exchange event! Bring your saved seeds, extra seedlings or garden supplies to trade or share. If you have nothing to exchange, just bring yourself. You will have a great opportunity to learn about Native Seeds/Search, seed saving, and your Tucson gardening community.

Introduction to Seed Saving

Native Seeds/SEARCH announces a 2-day seed saving course. This course is for gardeners, farmers, herbalists, nurseries, CSAs, non-profits, government agencies and everyone concerned with regional, sustainable and diverse agriculture. Proceeds benefit Native Seeds/SEARCH. Learn more about this course.

September 6–7, 2014
NS/S Conservation Center
3584 E. River Rd.
Tucson, AZ

Squash Pollination

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Conservation Program Manager. Published July 25, 2014.

One of the most common gardening problems from those growing squash, cucumbers, or watermelons is the abundance of baby fruits, but none that grow to full size. The baby fruits shrivel and wither away. The most common reason for this is that the fruits were not pollinated. In this blog post we share information about how cucurbits are pollinated and provide instructions for hand pollinating squash that can be applied to other species in this plant family.

Native Seeds/SEARCH Announces New Programs

The Tucson, Arizona-based seed conservation nonprofit Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S) is pleased to announce two new programs to further its work in helping to build more sustainable and secure food systems across the Southwest region. The Seed Security Backup Program provides secure seed storage of outside seed collections within the NS/S seed bank facility. The Native American Bulk Seed Exchange Program shares large quantities of seeds from the NS/S collection with growers working to increase the supply of traditional seeds and foods within indigenous communities.