Gary Paul Nabhan is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, agrarian activist and ethnobiologist who tangibly works on conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. For such work, Nabhan has been honored as a pioneer and creative force in the “local food movement” and seed saving community by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, New York Times, Bioneers, and Time magazine.
As the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona Southwest Center, he serves as founding Director of the Center for Regional Food Systems. The Center is linked to Tucson’s status as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy to be designated in the U.S., an effort which he initially spearheaded. He also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Ironwood Forest National Monument on the edge of the Metro Tucson region.
As a professed member of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, Nabhan has been involved in the Franciscan Action Network, the Living School and interfaith dialogues on food justice and caring for creation. He has been involved in bringing together farmers, ranchers, urban food activists and indigenous communities for the collaborative conservation of food-producing landscapes during the last quarter century. He was one of a dozen Westerners who Courtney White selected to help forge “the radical center” for conserving working landscapes and the traditional livelihoods associated with them.
Gary is also personally engaged as an orchard-keeper, nurseryman, and pollinator habitat restorationist working from his small farm in Patagonia, Arizona near the Mexican border. As a co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH, he hosted the first national gathering of heirloom seed savers in the 1980’s, and more recently hosted the first International Seed Library Forum. Together with Ina Warren and a dozen pollinator-friendly farmers, he founded Make Way for Monarchs in 2014, and was invited to participate in the first White House Pollinator Summit.
Agricultural historian Peter Hatch of Monticello has called Nabhan “the lyrical scholar of genetic diversity.” As Lebanese-American essayist and poet, he is author or editor of thirty-four books, some of which have been translated into Arabic, Spanish, Italian, French, Croatian, Korean, Polish, Chinese and Japanese. For his creative writing and its influence on community-based conservation, he has been honored with a MacArthur “genius” award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Southwest Book Award, the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, the Vavilov Medal, and several honorary degrees and lifetime achievement awards.