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Seed Sovereignty Events in New Mexico

Seed Sovereignty Events in New Mexico

| Melissa Kruse-Peeples

Article by Melissa Kruse-Peeples, NS/S Education Coordinator, published May 5, 2016.

Last month NS/S co-hosted two workshops in New Mexico in conjunction with the Traditional Native American Farmers Association, Pueblo of Tesuque, Pueblo of Acoma, and the Southwest Conservation Corps, and SeedBroadcast. The events, titled Seed Sovereignty in the Face of Climate Change, brought together growers from the region to discuss the challenges of climate change, growing techniques, and seed saving. There were numerous relationships and bonds made throughout the weekends- between participants, with the land, and to the seeds.

The weekends included presentations from extremely knowledgeable people. It was a pleasure to bring all together to learn and share. Emigdio Ballon, the Agricultural Director of Pueblo of Tesuque, spoke of his experiences in high altitude farming including his homeland of Bolivia. Chris Honahnie shared Hopi dryland and irrigation techniques and his hope of motivating others to farm. Toñita Gonzales, a traditional healer based in Albuquerque spoke of the healing power of traditional foods. Clayton Brascoupe, Program Director for the Traditional Native American Farmers Association, discussed community needs for seed conservation and protection and seed saving techniques. Morgan Parsons, NS/S Conservation Farm Manager, spoke about appropriate scale technologies for seed production. Aaron Lowden, of the Southwest Conservation Corps and Acoma Pueblo, spoke about traditional farming practices and challenges at Acoma. NS/S staff Samantha Martinez, Joy Hought, and Chad Borseth presented about seed saving techniques.

The events also included a field component where participants visited local farms to learn more about these projects, growing techniques, and seed cleaning. At Tesuque this included a tour of the Tesuque Pueblo farm, orchards, and greenhouses. A highlight was a visit to the Pueblo’s seed bank facility. At Acoma participants visited Tim and Elvira Chavez’s farm and Robert Salvador’s farm where water issues were at the forefront of the conversation.

A highlight of the events was the Seed Story Workshop lead by Jeanette Hart-Mann and Chrissie Orr of SeedBroadcast. SeedBroadcast is a collaborative project exploring bioregional agri-Culture and seed action through collective inquiries and hands-on creative practices. The intent of their presentation was to evoke an open discussion around seeds: the relevance of saving seeds, its relationship to sharing stories, and the impact of climate change. There was an open discussion about the question: What is a Seed Story? Then, participants were asked to take time to reflect and write about their first memories of seeds and their present relationships to seed.  Participants broke into small groups to share the stories that arose from these questions. This action evoked some emotional stories around the loss of traditional ways, dreams for the future of our world and the seeds, the notion that seeds are our children, and much more. It brought everyone into relationship, not only to their stories, but to each other. They finished by posing the question: Now what will happen if these stories are lost?

During the workshop SeedBroadcast recorded several seed stories using their Mobile SeedBroadcasting station. Several, including those stories below, can be found on the SeedBroadcast site. Take a listen and be inspired by the connections we all have to seeds.

Christopher Honahnie from Tuba City, Arizona shares his story of growing up in a Hopi Farming family and his plans to continue his family’s traditional farming practices.

Jennifer Padilla of Isleta Pueblo talks about her role as a clinical therapist and organizer for the community garden. She talks about seeds, healing ancestral wisdom, and climate change.

Gilbert Yazzie from Shiprock, New Mexico talks about seeds as life, where there is no beginning or end, and the importance of keeping farming and food alive to give thanks and share its goodness with all in harmony.

During 2016 and 2017, SeedBroadcast is partnering with Native Seeds/SEARCH (NS/S) and farmers across New Mexico to facilitate Seed Story Workshops and to creatively document bioregional seeds and climate appropriate agri-Culture. Through seasonal photo essays and audio interviews, SeedBroadcast will work with these farmers to share their stories about farming in a changing climate while cultivating seed, food, and community resiliency. These will be published in the SeedBroadcast Blog and SeedBroadcast agri-Culture Journal.