Some of you may be wondering “what do heirloom seeds have to do with the Tarahumara tribe?” Allow me to explain. The Tarahumara’s culture is centered on agriculture. Specifically the cultivation of crops such as corn is central to their meal preparation, livestock, ceremonies and survival as a community. The disappearance of Mexican corn is leading to the dissolution of their culture through threats of famine and their ability to sustain their traditional practices. The isolation of this tribe makes their ability to save their own seed a crucial part of their existence in order to replant crops for the next year. When I asked some the Raramuri people we met about the origin of their seeds they responded roughly “from my grandfathers, grandfathers, grandfathers.” They seemed perplexed at my curiosity in this topic, their expressions seeming to say, ‘How else would anyone get their seeds?’
Although we could have chosen to document any number of indigenous cultures to witness a community living off of their ancient agricultural methods, the Tarahumara have additional qualities that set them apart. Foremost, we are interested in their unique resistance to diabetes, heart disease and cancer, which is linked to their traditional diet. What other community could offer such a combination of rare qualities to learn from? From seed to stomach, we are hungry for life-giving solutions!
Through our documentation of the the Tarahumara’s ancient agrarian practices, backed by useful advice from modern-day sustainable seed and agriculture enthusiasts, we hope to rediscover some the basic principles of sustainable food systems and how we can apply them to our current agricultural practices.
Some of the interviewees that will be attending include Dr. Daphne Miller, author of The Jungle Effect, examined the Tarahumara diet and community food practices, Jere & Emilee Gettle, the owners of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Astrid & Matthew Hoffman, Founders of Living Seed Company, Jeffrey Smith, the founder of The Institute For Responsible Technology and one of America’s leading experts on the subject of genetically modified foods, and William Woys Weaver an internationally known food historian who maintains the Roughwood Seed Collection of approximately 4500 varieties of food plants. I think we will have ‘our plates full’ during this 3 day event!
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