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Conservation Center Garden Updates: September 2017

Article by Michelle Langmaid, Americorps VISTA Garden and Volunteer Coordinator, published September 14, 2017.

The NS/S Garden Crew has been very busy this summer, and while we’ve had fun, nobody is going to say it has been easy! Our dedicated, albeit small, group of Garden Volunteers has accomplished a lot despite the summer heat with the help of popsicles, cold coffee, and an indomitable sense of humor.

Tale of Two Seed Libraries

By Laura Neff, Retail Associate. Published August 16, 2017.

Three times a year Native Seeds/SEARCH awards programs and community projects that have a focus in education, food security, and community development through our Community Seed Grants (CSG). The grants supply up to 30 free packets of seed per project. The awarded projects range from school garden programs, to starting community gardens, or as we will be highlighting in this post, starting a seed library in a community where there was not one before. All the grant requires in return are updates on the project be sent to NS/S and that there are efforts to save seeds resulting from the grant. Saving seeds from community based projects is an excellent way to make these projects sustainable and more resilient. Successfully saved seeds will locally adapted and grow best at these project locations and the abundance of seed ensures that there will be seed for future plantings and to share with community members to get them interested in growing food.

Adaptation of Ancient Maize to High Elevations of North America

By Melissa Kruse-Peeples, Education Coordinator. Published August 8, 2017.

A recently published paper in the journal Science, features research results derived from the Native Seeds/SEARCH maize collection. The international team of researchers concluded that key genetic changes allowed maize to be grown in the U.S. southwest highlands 2,000 years ago, a much colder climate than corn’s tropical origins in the Balsas River Valley of Mexico.

Monsoon "Weeds"

Article by Melissa Kruse-Peeples, Education Coordinator, published July 21, 2017.

The monsoons are here! A local Arizonan’s favorite time of year. The desert comes alive as do our spirits after extreme heat induced hibernation. All of the rainfall makes long dormant seeds sprout and many new plants are popping up all over the landscape including our backyards. This is always the time of year when we get numerous plant identification questions. The term weed generally assumed to be unwanted, undesirable wild growing plants. What is unwanted or undesirable is really a matter of personal preference as many of the plants identified as weeds appearing this time of year are considered edible and delicious plants that have a place in the garden. Hence the use of quotes around the word weed in the title of this post. But others wild plants appearing at this time can be are toxic or a potential nuisance.

Everything Mesquite

Article by Carly Herndon, Americorps VISTA Program and Outreach Coordinator, published June 22, 2017.

What comfort food is sweet, nutrient-dense, has double the protein of the average bean, and helps prevent and treat diabetes? From the title, you probably guessed mesquite! This desert legume has been a food source to Native Americans for thousands of years. But it now seems that mesquite pods are an almost-forgotten food.

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