Preserving Food Diversity
Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage is committed to preserving and cultivating natural diversity through the use and promotion of heritage crops and heirloom seeds.
We are poly-culturists, so we don't just grow one variety of tomatoes, we grow 14, and 20 varieties of peppers, etc!
Seeking to honor the agricultural traditions of this land, this year we have joined with a coalition of other local farmers, millers and bakers to help revive two of the oldest grain varieties adapted to the arid Southwest: White Sonora soft bread wheat and Chapalote flint corn. These two were the original varieties of their species to be cultivated in the Arizona deserts as farmed crops. This work is being supported through a collaborative grant provided by Western SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education).
Chapalote flint corn and White Sonora wheat have reputations for drought tolerance, yield stability and excellent nutritional qualities, and have deep cultural ties to the desert borderlands. They are the oldest varieties of their species to reach the Arizona deserts as farmed crops, Chapalote arriving roughly 4,200 years ago and White Sonora arriving with Spanish missionaries in the late 17th century. Both crops suffered declines in cultivation as water- and fertilizer-responsive varieties took precedence in irrigated agriculture in the Southwest. They became commercially unavailable in Arizona and adjacent areas of Mexico by 1975.
Interestingly, Avalon Organic Gardens borders the Historic Tumacácori Mission, and is on the very ground where Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino first introduced White Sonora wheat to Arizona and founded the mission.
The cultivation of these two heritage grains is a representation of our commitment to preserving the culture and food diversity of this region. We are committed in protecting and educating others about the uniqueness of our food supply.