Articles

Pollinator Plants of the Desert Southwest

Native Milkweeds

The Desert Southwest harbors at least 41 of the 76 milkweed (Asclepias spp.) species known to exist in the lower 48 states. The species richness of milkweeds in this region is influenced by the tremendous diversity and range of vegetation types, soils, topography, climate, and the exposure of unusual rock types that occur over more than a 9,000 foot elevation range. The nectar of milkweed flowers is attractive to dozens of insects including bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, ...

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Conservation You Can Taste: Saving Forgotten Fruits of the Borderlands

Three hundred years ago, Spanish missionaries introduced a suite of arid-adapted fruit and herb varieties to the Sonoran Desert region, many of which have barely survived to this day.

These desert-adapted, heirloom fruits enriched the diets and diversified the farms indigenous and immigrants alike, but fell out of availability and culinary fashion. Today, these forgotten fruits are once again needed because they are tolerant of heat, drought and even alkaline conditions.

 

Go to Barnraiser, and learn about Saving Forgotten Fruits of the ...

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Stalking Oregano in the Wilds of Mexico

Few American gourmands realize that most of the oregano they use to spice up sauces, meats, salads and vinegars—whether it be Greek or Mexican in origin—is hand-harvested from wild habitats. Although many varieties of oregano can be cultivated and irrigated as perennial crops, their aromatic oils become diluted as their leaves enlarge under well-watered conditions.

These same aromatic oils—called thymol and carvacol— become more concentrated, intensely flavorful and pungently memorable when the crisp, dry diminutive leaves of oreganos are harvested from ...

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Mezcal: Everything but the Worm

 

It’s nearly the Day of the Dead in Mexico, which gives us the perfect excuse to get familiar with the country’s national spirit: tequila. Or wait, should that be mezcal? And what’s the difference, anyway? In this episode of Gastropod, Cynthia and Nicky travel to Mexico to explore the history and science of distilled agave, and get tangled up in a complex story of controversies, clones, and culture.

The agave, a spiky succulent native to Mexico, has been at the center ...

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Reading Pope Francis on Peace, Justice & Caring For Creation

Respect & Forgiveness for Flawed but Courageous American “Saints”

 

One of the more remarkable features of Pope Francis visit to North America was his request that we remember and reflect upon the lives of certain charismatic Americans whom few U.S. citizens would have placed into the same category of greatness: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and the newly sainted Junipero Serra. What do these five persons have in common? Why has each of them ...

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Becoming “Laudito Si” Franciscans of the Rivers and Seas in the Era of Mining Spills

The recent toxic spill of 3 million pounds of mine wastes in the Animas-San Juan watershed is roughly I received my “call” year ago to become a Franciscan after days of solitude and prayer in the wilderness of the Four Corners region. It is also the same watershed where I once caught five catfish for breakfast while co-leading an Outward Bound-style rite of initiation in tributaries to the east of Lake Powell.

So just how does being a Franciscan brother shape ...

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Migratory Monarchs and Native Bees as Spiritual Messengers of Climate Change

When Pope Francis recently released his encyclical on climate change, people of many faiths finally realized how climate change is ultimately an issue of social and environmental justice that bringing caring for creation and “the right to life” to all species, races, cultures and classes. But it should explicitly be added that climate-related “social justice” needs to be applied to “social insects” like some bees and butterflies, not just to “social hominids” like human beings? Indeed, the plight of monarchs, ...

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An Open Letter to Governor Ducey

Dear Governor Ducey,

When you signed the 2016 state budget into law this spring, many Arizonans were unlikely to understand how your decisions might harm their own future health. They did not fathom that your budget-cutting measures are a deferred maintenance scheme that fails to deal with costly public health issues—and fails to adequately support the 600,000 Arizonans who suffer from diabetes today, or the 1.2 million people plagued by obesity. The hundreds of millions of dollars that you cut from ...

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Q&A from the Conservation You Can Taste Tour

These are various questions that were given to Gary Paul Nabhan by hosts of his tour Conservation You Can Taste. In particular, these came from representatives from the University of Ohio, and the University of Minnesota.

QUESTION: You have worked as a plant explorer and now you are an orchard-keeper of over 150 varieties of wild and heirloom fruits. What prompted your interest in food biodiversity?

NABHAN: Our Lebanese grandfather was an immigrant who grew trees in the Old World ...

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Hydrological Restoration of Rangeland and Desert Watersheds

HYDROLOGICAL RESTORATION
Designed for avid environmentalists, watershed restoration technicians, permaculturists and planners.
This class is Bilingual (offered in English/Spanish)

OFFERED: October 13—16, 2015
LOCATION: UA Santa Cruz, Nogales (rm N351)
INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Gary Nabhan
FEE: $75.00
TO REGISTER CALL: 520-626-5093

The hydrological restoration of our arid ecosystem is essential to create a secure future for food production and the environment. This course will focus on water harvesting as a vehicle to capture this priceless resource, while controlling erosion of valuable, ...

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Water Justice

Pope Francis paraphrased:

“…access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.”

On the bottom side
of each flat rock
that has found a way
to reach its angle of repose
on the desert’s bottom floor
a sheen of droplets
forms at night
enough to fill a single cup.

That is your daily water ration
for the rest ...

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UA Helps Bring Seed Library Forum to Tucson

Ensuring community access to seeds remains a vital issue, and the UA is among those hosting the first International Seed Library Forum, a four-day event that kicks off on Sunday.

 

In 1981, the nonprofit seed conservation organization Native Seed/SEARCH hosted the first national grassroots seed conference in Tucson to better meet the community’s need for access to quality seeds.

Thirty-five years later, ensuring community access to seeds remains a ...

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MacArthur Fellow Gary Paul Nabhan

Nabhan combines his love for science and the written word. He contributed poems to the book “Sown by Hand.”

 

Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD was born in Indiana but he has spent most of his life in Arizona when not traveling to different parts of the world addressing indigenous foods and local communities.

Nabhan is a huge fan of food, culture and ecology, and he credits part of his passion to his Lebanese ancestry.

“If you know anything about the Lebanese, when ...

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Mexican farmers are trucking produce into an Arizona town—where tons of it gets thrown into landfills

Nogales, Arizona, is the largest inland food port in the world. Much of the fresh produce trucked up the “food superhighway” of Mexico’s west coast comes through there—and a shocking amount of it doesn’t travel much farther, dropping into local landfills instead of being sent to consumers.

It’s a loss to the farmers who harvested the food and to the consumers who would have eaten it, argue filmmakers Jesse Ash and Phil Buccellato, who made ...

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Catching up with MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Gary Nabhan

By David Bradshaw, Graduate Center Program Coordinator

The Graduate Center caught up with the UA Southwest Center’s Research Social Scientist, Dr. Gary Nabhan, MacArthur Fellow Class of 1990, to find out more about his upcoming talk “Seeds, Sown by Hand: Conservation You Can Taste” on March 12, 2015, at 5:30pm in the UA Chavez Building, Room 111 as part of the MacArthur Fellows Speaker Series. Dr. Nabhan is a leading scientist in the fields of ethnobotany, agroecology, cultural geography, and is well known for his work ...

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The International Seed Library Forum

The first International Seed Library Forum will be held in Tucson, Arizona May 3-6, 2015, in an effort to further coalesce efforts by public libraries, non-profits, universities, and food banks to increase the quality and diversify the means of managing community seed resources with free or affordable access to low-income households.

Please register online at Eventbrite at your earliest convenience.

Sunday May 3 will include afternoon field trips and open houses, followed by a event ...

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Award-Winning Sundance Film Offers ‘Innovative Solutions to Mend our Broken Food System’

Sundance Institute premiered the Short Film Challenge today at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The program “is designed to spark global conversation about solutions to challenges like extreme hunger and poverty,” according to Sundance. Beginning today, the short films will premiere on a variety of digital platforms.

There were 1,387 submissions from 89 countries on Tongal.com, a creative platform “which powered a global call for film entries that used the transformative power of storytelling ...

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A Tale of Two Views: Gary Nabhan and Joel Salatin

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Cowboy Keynote: Speaker urges honest discourse in land disputes

The most contentious disagreements over land management pit ranchers against environmentalists in range wars with endless back-and-forth battles.

But the stakeholders overwhelmingly agree with one another on a majority of issues, according to Gary Paul Nabhan, a professor at the University of Arizona, and this year’s keynote speaker for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

“If we share 90 percent of the same goals and values, why are we always jabbing at each other about that 10 percent where we ...

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Tucson a model for planning for drier future, author says

By: Elena Acoba, Special to the Arizona Daily Star

Internationally recognized food and farming activist Gary Paul Nabhan says Tucson gardeners do a good job recognizing the importance of harvesting rainwater to grow crops in the desert climate.

But on the heels of Tucson’s warmest year on record, Nabhan feels more can be done.

“There’s been a lot of emphasis on things like harvesting water, but not much on the other ways that deal with scarce water and cooling crops,” ...

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