The awesome speaker (not pictured) was Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan.
The internationally-renown author spoke on January 12 to a group of beginning farmers about the challenges and opportunities for producers growing for local markets. The mixer was presented in association with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County, Master Farmers Program.
I was pleasantly surprised when the world-famous Gary Paul sat at our table briefly to sign my books (three of my least-tattered copies). I will treasure that moment forever!
As a naturalist and food activist, he has authored numerous books, helping the public to understand the importance of preserving diversity. Heirloom seeds, heritage livestock, and native plants and wildlife often struggled to survive as large agricultural fields replaced small farms and housing tracts grew in the place of natural habitat.
As the editor of a recent book, Conservation You Can Taste, Gary Paul took a new approach. He celebrated specific examples where precious DNA struggled on the brink of extinction and then recovered. As an example, “…the OLDEST surviving breed of small livestock introduced from the Old World into the New World, the Navajo-Churro sheep population had dwindled down from over one million to just 450 individuals…” (pg 66).
The sheep weren’t alone. A rare chile pepper fell into obscurity, White Sonora Wheat was replaced with modern bleached flours, and the list goes on. Fortunately, in all of these instances, people got involved and made a difference. Their success stories inspire a system of best practices for those plants, animals, and ecosystems still in danger.
In the fight for saving plants and animals from extinction, we need all of the success stories we can get. Thank you, Dr. Nabhan for your continued work and inspiration.