Press and Media

Native Seeds/SEARCH Names New Director

Larrie Warren has been named Executive Director of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit seed conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona. He assumed the position on November 10. Chris Schmidt, Interim Executive Director since February, stays on in a senior managerial role and as grants administrator.

In making the announcement, Cynthia Anson, chairman of the Board of Directors of Native Seeds/SEARCH, said, “We are excited to welcome Larrie. He brings both a deep connection to the Greater Southwest and a global perspective on the value of our work."

Warren brings more than 20 years of leadership experience working with international development and program management. He has worked most recently with food relief in troubled areas of East Africa, witnessing firsthand the need to build resilient and sustainable local food systems.

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.

Native Seeds/SEARCH Announces a Leadership Transition

The Native Seeds/SEARCH Board of Directors has accepted the resignations of Executive Director Bill McDorman and Deputy Director Belle Starr. Under their tenure NS/S experienced renewed energy, financial stability and significant programmatic advances. Board members, staff, and the NS/S community extend gratitude for their service and good wishes for their future.

Pending a nationwide search for an Executive Director, the Board has appointed Chris Schmidt to take the helm as Interim Executive Director. Chris received his Ph.D. in Entomology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona in 2009 and has served NS/S for five years, first as Collections Curator and later as Director of Conservation. In these positions he has advanced NS/S’s conservation program, outreach efforts, fundraising and general operations. For the past two years he led the collaborative Heritage Grains Recovery project, which has helped White Sonora wheat once again become prominent in the fields and kitchens of southern Arizona. With the support of our experienced and capable staff, Chris’s leadership will ensure that NS/S maintains and extends its current vitality and momentum.

With a clarity of vision and purpose, an expanding emphasis on research, education, outreach, and collaboration, and a passionate staff and board, Native Seeds/SEARCH is poised to contribute more than ever to building the resilient communities of the future. This week we welcome to our team a new Farm Supervisor, Lynda Prim, who brings an incredible lifetime of experiences to take our Conservation Farm to new heights. NS/S staff will travel in the coming weeks to participate in important national conferences on public plant breeding and indigenous farming systems. And our conservation, seed distribution and education programs are ever more vibrant.

We thank you for your support and encourage you to dialogue with us around our shared vision of a Greater Southwest that is food secure, culturally diverse, and adaptive to the changes that lay before us all. With your help we can make that vision a reality.

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Download this announcement as a PDF.

Coalition Receives Grant to Promote Arid-Adapted Heritage Grains in Southern Arizona

A ground-breaking collaboration of farmers and organizations in southern Arizona has been awarded a two-year, $50,000 grant by the Western SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) program to revive the production, milling, distribution, and marketing of the oldest extant grain varieties adapted to the arid Southwest: White Sonora soft bread wheat and Chapalote flint corn.

Native Seeds/SEARCH, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Hayden Flour Mills, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, Cultivate Santa Cruz, Tubac Historical Society, Amado Farms Joint Venture, and Avalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage will work with small-scale beginning farmers as well as low-income tortilla makers and bakers in the proposed Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area to increase our region’s food diversity and food security in the face of climate change and an evolving agricultural landscape.