About Us

History and Mission

Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S) is a nonprofit seed conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Our story began in 1983 when co-founders Gary Nabhan and Mahina Drees worked on a food security Meals for Millions project to assist the Tohono O’odham Nation in establishing gardens for their sustainable food needs. In discussions with tribal elders they were told “What we are really looking for are the seeds for the foods our grandparents used to grow.” This sagely remark inspired the formation of Native Seeds/SEARCH as a collector and preserver of these endangered traditional seeds.

Since its founding, Native Seeds/SEARCH has been dedicated to this calling to conserve the rich agro-biodiversity of the arid Southwest because of its genetic and cultural importance. What began as a humble operation with seeds stored in chest freezers has grown to a state-of-the art conservation facility, a host of innovative programs and educational initiatives, and an organization recognized as a leader in the heirloom seed movement. Preserved in our seed bank are nearly 2,000 varieties of aridlands-adapted seeds, many of them rare or endangered. We promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by distributing seeds to traditional communities and to gardeners worldwide. Currently we offer over 500 varieties from the NS/S collection (which we grow out at our Conservation Farm in Patagonia, Arizona) alongside native crafts, gifts, foods, and more. These one-of-a-kind seeds and items are available through our online store, annual seedlisting, and at our retail store in central Tucson.

Contact Us

Retail Store Location


Retail Store

3061 N. Campbell Avenue
Tucson AZ 85719

Open every day from 10am - 5pm.


Conservation Center Location


Conservation Center

Administrative Offices, Seed Bank,
and Web & Mail Order

3584 E. River Road, Tucson, AZ 85718
Phone: 520-622-0830
Fax: 520-622-0829

Open to the public, please call ahead to schedule a visit.


Conservation Farm Location


Conservation Farm

45 San Antonio Rd., Patagonia, AZ 85624
Phone: 520-394-0227

Contact Us via Email

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We are not currently hiring for any positions. Please check back periodically for updates.

The Seedhead News

The Seedhead News is the official newsletter of Native Seeds/SEARCH, published three times yearly as a benefit to our supporting members. Current issues are made available to members electronically or in print; past issues are provided here in digital format for members and non-members alike.

No. 118: Fall 2014
Barney Burns Special Tribute Issue · A "Chucky-Jam Full" Life · Dr. Barney Burns, Native Seeds/SEARCH Co-Founder, Passes On, Leaving Us a Legacy of Hope and Humor · Barney Tillman Burns III, 1945-2014, a Native Seeds/SEARCH Founder and Note Seed-Saver · Simulated Anasazi Storage Behavior Using Crop Yields Reconstructed from Tree Rings: A.D. 652–1968 · Life with Barney · Tarahumara Indian Country Explored for Seeds · Interesting Characteristics Noted for Mountain Pima Yellow Sweetcorn · Trinchera Tradition in the Sierra Made · Boxes on a Low Budget · A Short History of Mrs. Burns' Lemon Basil · Barney · Adventures with the Unique Burns · The Battle for the Treasure of the Sierra Madre · Poetry and Pragmatism · When the Rains Don't Come · Barney Burns, 1945–2014: A Leader Who Broke Some Rules · We've Come a Long Way · Memories of the Hunt · News and Notes · Changes to NS/S Membership · Donate Goods and Services
Download PDF (2.3 MB)
No. 117: Summer 2014
SARE Grant Supports Successful Reintroduction of Heritage Grains · From Our Interim Executive Director · Volunteer Salute: Maggie White · From Our Friends · Creating Biodiversity for Farm and Garden with Cover Crop Management · Seed Diaries · Reviving Seed Traditions: A Report from Seed Keepers · We Are the Seeds: An Interview with NS/S Conservation Intern Elizabeth Axcahuiani Pantoja · Replanting History: A Walk Through Tucson's Mission Garden · News and Notes
Download PDF (2.5 MB)
No. 116: Winter 2014
Seed School Teaches Regional Seed Solutions · From Our Retail Manager · Seed School Wants You! · Volunteer Salute: Janet Taylor · Program Accomplishments · Sharing the Seeds of Community · Seeds, Science and Spirit: An Interview with NS/S Intern Valerie Martinez · News and Notes
Download PDF (2.7 MB)
No. 115: Fall 2013
Trek to Nepal Yields Cross-Regional Exchange of Ideas · From Our Collections Manager · October's Chaco Canyon Tour · Upcoming NS/S Events · Volunteer Salute: Meet Will Larrimore · Volunteer Brunch · Seed School is on the Move · A Cornucopia of Events · News and Notes · Conoce tus Semillas
Download PDF (1.6 MB)
No. 114: Winter 2013
NS/S Visits Campesinos in the Sierra Tarahumara · From Our Directors · NS/S Salons Move to Conservation Center · 2013 Catalog · Volunteer Salute: Meet Susan Andersen and Bob Fernandez · Celebrating 30 Years of Diversity with NS/S · Program Accomplishments · Thank You For Your Support! · News and Notes
Download PDF (1.5 MB)
No. 113: Fall 2012
Famine-stricken Tarahumara Reunited with Native Seeds from NS/S Collection · From Our Chairman of the Board · From Our Friends · From the Trading Post · Program Updates · Volunteer Salute: Meet Annemarie Bussmann · Glass Gem: Magical Seed · News and Notes
Download PDF (1.7 MB)
No. 112: Spring 2012
Coalition Receives Grant to Promote Arid-Adapted Heritage Grains in Southern Arizona · From Our Director of Conservation · Bees, Seeds, and Food · Reflections on Seed Keepers · Savoring Flavors · Community Seed Grants · Seed Assistance for the Tarahumara · Volunteer Salute: Meet "The Rowdy Bunch" · Adopt a Crop 2012 · News and Notes
Download PDF (11.3 MB)
No. 111: Winter 2012
Seed School: Germinating and Graduating Hardy "Seed Citizens" · From Our Directors · Seed Watch · Native Seeds/SEARCH Salon · Tucson Seed · Program Accomplishments · Thank You For Your Support! · Volunteer Salute: Meet Samuel Michael · Members and Volunteers · New Seedlisting · NS/S Seed Library–Check It Out · News and Notes · Flavors of the Desert
Download PDF (3.7 MB)
No. 110: Summer 2011
Investing in our Future · From Our Directors · From Our Board Chair · New NS/S Seed Library · Conservation Farm Surprises · NS/S Expands Seed Line · From Our Friends · New Website · Permaculture Course, Seed School, Grain School · Plant Seeds. Harvest Change. · Flavors of the Desert · Volunteer Salute: Meet Stan Stalker · Photo Diversity Contest · Announcing Seed Watch · Welcome to Seed Central! · NS/S Salons · Harvest Dinner · Wish List
Download PDF (1.7 MB)

Staff and Board

Board of Directors

Chair - Cynthia Anson
Vice-Chair - Carolyn Niethammer
Secretary - Christopher Fullerton
Treasurer - Kevin Dahl

Daniel Armenta, Doug Biggers, Martha Burgess, Mahina Drees, Donna House, Karen Jambeck, Ron Wells, Janos Wilder, Ron Wong