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.