Redesigning Food Systems

Financing Food and Creating Jobs from the Bottom Up

In the days between the 2012 Republican and Democratic Conventions, a group of eighty farmers, ranchers, grocers, produce distributors and food activists met in Carbondale, Colorado. They hunkered down in a big tent on a farm nestled below the drought-stricken peaks of the Rocky Mountains as dry winds gusted around them. Like many who spoke at the conventions, their goal was to discuss how to create jobs and help rural economies ravaged by the economic downturn get some rebound.

But unlike ...

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Genetic Variation and Distribution of Pacific Crabapple

By: Kanin J. Routson, Gayle M. Volk, Christopher M. Richards, Steven E. Smith, Gary Paul Nabhan, and Victoria Wyllie de Echeverria

ABSTRACT. Pacific crabapple [Malus fusca (Raf.) C.K. Schneid.] is found in mesic coastal habitats in Pacific northwestern North America. It is one of four apple species native to North America. M. fusca is culturally important to First Nations of the region who value and use the fruit of this species as food, bark and leaves for medicine, and wood for ...

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When Local is Binational: Borderland Food in Nogales

When the food relocalization movement revved up its engines a dozen years ago, I would often see maps that circumscribed “local foodsheds” by county, state,  or region of our sprawling nation, but they never crossed international boundaries. But when I recently moved to southern Arizona to plant an heirloom orchard just twelve miles north of the U.S./Mexico line, such maps suddenly made little sense to me.

As I searched for low chill fruit and nut varieties to plant in my orchard, ...

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Hungry for Change

Borderlands Food and Water in the Balance

The Southwest Center’s Kellogg Program in Sustainable Food Systems

By: Gary Nabhan, Maribel Alvarez, Jeffrey Banister, and Regina Fitzsimmons

Welcome to the food system of the U.S.-Mexico border —the geopolitical boundary with the greatest economic disparity in the world. Stories written and spoken about this unnatural rift in the landscape are the stuff of myth, literary leaping or yarn spinning, depending on who tells the tale. The U.S./Mexico border is also, for many, una herida abierta—an ...

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Earthen Oven & Rain Garden Terrace Workshop

Design and Build Earthen Ovens & Rain Garden Terraces with local materials – Bill & Athena Steen

Join Bill & Athena Steen from The Canelo Project will lead a hands-on workshop on how to build wood-fire earthen ovens and beautifully sculpted agricultural terraces using local and natural materials and pigments. Written materials, lunches and snacks provided! Hosted by Gary Nabhan, Laurie Monti and Caleb Weaver.

Saturday & Sunday, June 9-10 from ...

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Healing the Lands of the Border

By: Gary Paul Nabhan

Around the time that Joe Quiroga turned 60, he began a new endeavor that has ultimately had more land conservation impact than most of us will ever achieve over in our lives.

Joe looked out over the uneven cover and ailing forage quality of the Sonoita Plains in Santa Cruz County near Elgin, AZ, and decided that he wanted to try to heal the landscape. He built stone check dams called trincheras wherever he saw watercourses down-cutting into ...

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The Return of the Natives: Designing and Planting Hedgerows for Pollinator Habitat to Bring Wild Diversity Back to Farms and Gardens

By: Gary Paul Nabhan and Amanda Webb
Patagonia, AZ

Native pollinators, it seems, were once forgotten as playing an essential role in providing ecological services for food security, but no longer.  We have witnessed a surge in grassroots interest in returning pollinators to their proper place in sustainable agriculture, as witnessed by the enthusiastic participation recently seen at a workshop regarding on-farm pollinator habitat restoration in the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

The workshop featured practical teachings from Sam Earnshaw of Community Alliance of Family ...

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Coalition Receives Grant to Promote Arid-Adapted Heritage Grains in Southern Arizona

A ground-breaking collaboration of farmers and organizations in southern Arizona has been awarded a two-year, $50,000 grant by the Western SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) program to revive the production, milling, distribution, and marketing of the oldest extant grain varieties adapted to the arid Southwest: White Sonora soft bread wheat and Chapalote flint corn.

Native Seeds/SEARCH, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Hayden Flour Mills, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, Cultivate Santa Cruz, Tubac Historical Society, Amado Farms Joint ...

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‘Seed schools’ can help nurture local heirloom plants

Written by: Jim Ewing

A novel approach toward helping young people ensure biodiversity in our world is studying seeds in the wild and planting them for food in the garden.

Called “seed schools,” they should be in schools everywhere.

According to Native Seeds SEARCH’s Seedhead News, Gary Paul Nabhan, sometimes called “the father of the local foods movement,” was recently named to an endowed chair at the University of Arizona’s Sustainable Food Systems Program.

Nabhan helps seed school students name their own plant ...

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Drakes Estero oyster farm a natural fit

By: Gary P. Nabhan, Jeffrey A. Creque
Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is an oyster farm compatible with wilderness values?

The purpose of the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act – under which the National Park Service alleges authority to prepare an environmental impact statement on Drakes Bay Oyster Co. operations – was “to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony.”

The 80-year tradition of shellfish aquaculture in Drakes Estero is a quintessential example of exactly such a ...

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Gary’s Vision – The Big Picture…

Caring Capacity versus Carrying Capacity

Re-Designing Borderland Food Systems for the Health of the Land and the Health of Its Multicultural Communities

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Kellogg Chair in Food and Water Security for the Southwest Borderlands, University of Arizona

THE CHALLENGE

More than seventy years ago, Aldo Leopold first compared wholeness and health in the human body with those attributes in farmscapes. In a prophetic essay entitled “The Farmer as a Conservationist,” Leopold (1939, 1999) offered this analogy:

“It seems to me that ...

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Capturing Synergies to Build Healthy Communities in the Southwest Borderlands

By: Gary Paul Nabhan, Sabores Sin Fronteras Foodways Alliance &, Kellogg Chair in Southwest Borderlands Food and Water Security, University of Arizona

The term food hub  has become used more and more frequently as one of several means to build and strengthen regional food systems. The USDA’s working definition of a food hub  is a “centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced foods.”

As I hear more and more food ...

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High and dry: Southwest drought means rising food prices

Very few urban dwellers have paid attention to the catastrophic drought in the Southwest that began nearly a year ago. But last month, as farmers and ranchers assessed the year’s harvest, it became clear it had knocked back their yields and sales, while driving their costs higher than they have ever been. As the drought continues to drive both meat and vegetable food prices up over the next year, urbanites in the region and beyond will likely notice the change ...

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Food archaeologist gives new life to nearly extinct grains, veggies

by Richard Ruelas – Oct. 1, 2011 06:43 PM
The Arizona Republic

PATAGONIA – Gary Nabhan has written stacks of research papers about culture, archaeology and food for academic journals, and has authored at least a dozen books, some meant for popular consumption, others the academic kind whose titles have colons and subtitles that are longer than the main title.

But the gist of his high-minded, dense research is this: People lived here thousands of years ago and ...

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Sustainable Goodness in Wisconsin

September 22, 2011

By: Jennifer Reece

This year’s annual Food for Thought Festival, held last weekend in Madison, explored and celebrated the diversity of ways to eat more pleasurably, healthfully and sustainably in Wisconsin.  Hosted by REAP (Research, Education, Action and Policy)—a Madison based non-profit organization with the mission to build a regional food system that is healthful, just, environmentally sustainable and economically viable—the Food for Thought Festival is reminiscent of the age-old harvest festival.  However, this festival is more ...

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Sonorans harvest bounty of acorns before monsoon

By Jonathon Shacat
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP)— Each year, before the monsoon rains come, people in this region of northern Mexico harvest acorns known as bellotas from Emory Oak trees and sell the nuts along the roads here.Bellotas are brown and measure about 3/4 of an inch long and about 1/4 of an inch wide. Wick Communications environmental liaison Dick Kamp describes the taste as “tannic acid, and kind of rich.”

Emory Oak trees grow in isolated portions of Arizona, ...

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The Levantine Connection to the Southwest’s Flour Tortilla

The Levantine Connection to the Southwest’s Flour Tortilla

by Gary Paul Nabhan

While at a Palestinian café in Ramallah on the West Bank recently, I was surprised to find the waitress was bringing me a flour tortilla much like the pale, medium thin ones used for burritos throughout New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora.

“Did I order these?” I asked my Palestinian hostess. “I thought I ordered a purslane salad with some saj flatbread on the side.”

“To the right of you is your ...

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Mom-and-pop vs. big-box stores in the food desert

by Gary Nabhan, Kelly Watters

A few weeks ago, when the Obama administration released its Food Desert Locator, many of us realized that a once-good idea has spoiled like a bag of old bread. If you go online and find that your family lives in a food desert, don’t worry: You have plenty of company. One of every 10 census tracts in the lower 48 has been awarded that status.

Two years ago, when one of us (Gary) moved to ...

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Farming in the Time of Climate Catastrophe

The Atlantic

Facing wild weather and dwindling water resources, a pepper grower says it’s time to rethink agriculture

It is spring, and I am kneeling with a few friends in front of the composted soil of the hillside terraces in my orchard-garden in the desert borderlands of Arizona. It is planting day, and as we place each variety of pepper plant into the moistened earth, we say its name aloud, as if reciting a prayer in the face of uncertainty: Chiltepin, ...

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Chasing Chiles Across North America

Chasing Chiles is both a rollicking travelogue from three guys on the hunt for authentic food and cultural experience and an adventure with a larger, sobering mission: to understand the effects of climate change by zeroing in on one critical crop and the people whose lives are most deeply intertwined with it. Kraft, Friese, and Nabhan seek out and listen to farmers, chefs, and others who rely on the chile, and document ...

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