We are a nonprofit organization working to strengthen food security in the Greater Southwest by conserving our region's unique crop diversity and teaching others to do the same.
Join our mission.


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.

All About Amaranth: From Seed to Plate

Amaranth today may get a bad rap as a roadside weed, but did you know that it has been an important food throughout the Americas for centuries? Join us for this informative and hands-on workshop and learn how to grow, save seed and prepare culinary treats from this majestic plant. We'll cover the biodiversity, culture and traditions of use as a green and a grain, including nutritional information and recipes.

Saturday, October 4, 9am-12:30pm
Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Center

NS/S Conservation Farm Tours

Native Seeds/SEARCH is participating in the Fall Festival in gorgeous Patagonia, Arizona, home of our Conservation Farm. We will have a booth at the Festival in downtown Patagonia. In addition, we will be hosting tours and kid-friendly activities at the Conservation Farm on Saturday. We hope to see you there!

Festival Booth
October 11-12, 2014 from 9AM to 5PM (4PM on the 12th)
Downtown Patagonia

Farm Tours
October 11, 2014
Tours begin at 9:00, 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00
45 San Antonio Rd, Patagonia, AZ (north of downtown Patagonia)
Click here for a Google Map of the Conservation Farm location.

Introducing the Cucurbitaceae

By Liz Fairchild, Retail Assistant

Maybe, like me, you’ve wondered before about distinctions between varieties within the squash family, or cucurbits. For example, all the squash packets in our collection state that one may consume the fruit "when small and immature as summer squash, and mature as winter squash." This led me to think summer squashes are just immature winter squash. I discovered that's not always true. Then there is the rumor of cross-pollination amongst family members. And just how are the different varieties related? So I have gone in search of enlightenment and wish to report to our readers. I will break my report into several blog posts, beginning today with a botanical overview of the Cucurbitaceae, the family of gourds and squashes.

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.