Beck's Gardenville Okra
Bisbee Black Cow Pea
Del Rio Chiltepin
Glass Gem Corn
Santo Domingo Ceremonial Tobacco
Hopi Black Dye Sunflower
Navajo Robin's Egg Corn
Tohono Oodham Ha:l Squash
Tohono O'odham White Teparies
Mrs Burn's Famous Lemon Basil
White Sonora Wheat
Mayo Deer Dance Rattle Gourd
Sonoran Panic Grass
Hopi Red Dye Amaranth
Hopi Short Staple Cotton
Seeds have a lot more to offer than just providing us with food. Every seed has a story. A place. A history. At Native Seeds/SEARCH, we steward a collection of desert-adapted, culturally significant heirloom seeds originating from the Southwestern United States and Northwest Mexico. These seeds represent over 4,000 years of agricultural history in the region and reflect the diversity of people, cultures, cuisines, and environments of the area.
In order to celebrate this diversity and tell the stories of these seeds, we have created the Seed Diaries Project. In this section, you will find diaries, or stories, for a sample of the nearly 2,000 accessions within the Native Seeds/SEARCH collection. These stories range from telling how seeds are used, such as how the Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds are used to make a purple dye, to uncovering unexpected history such as how Beck’s Gardenville Okra seeds were smuggled into the U.S. inside a camera in the 1940's. We hope that the stories of these seeds will inspire you to grow and care for these seeds, thereby adding to their story and conservation for generations to come.
In order to explore and celebrate these seed stories, we have created a curriculum for educators to utilize the Seed Diaries Project in their classrooms. The curriculum outlines how to create seed-centric pieces of art that take inspiration from the cultural, nutritional, historical, and ecological association of seeds in the Native Seeds/SEARCH collection. Artistic expressions of the seed stories are one way to celebrate this diversity and teach the importance of stewarding not only the biological diversity, but also the cultural diversity. If you utilize this curriculum in your classroom, please share project results to be featured on our website.
The Seed Diaries artworks presented here were created by students of the College of Fine Art at the University of Arizona under the direction of University of Arizona Instructor of Record, Bobby Long, in 2013-2014. We thank the students for inspiring us with their work and for use of their images.
Download the curriculum document here.
The Seed Diaries Project has been generously funded by the Southwestern Foundation for Education and Historic Preservation. Diary information was compiled by former Conservation Farm Intern Danielle Johnson and Collections Manager Melissa Kruse-Peeples with assistance from former Deputy Director Belle Starr. We are also grateful for the generations of seed keepers who have not only saved and stewarded the agricultural diversity but the stories and of these seeds.