Indigenous farmers bring back crops adapted to hot, dry conditions » Yale Climate Connections


As the climate warms and the threat of water scarcity grows, a Native-led nonprofit in Arizona is working to bring back native crops adapted to hot, dry conditions.

the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture trains indigenous producers in traditional farming methods. And he shares seeds for a range of crops, including drought-tolerant varieties of squash, beans and corn.

“I have watched our apprentices… nurture them, enjoy them and nurture them for their families and take the knowledge they learned from me as an apprentice to share with their children,” says Sterling Johnson, Director of the group’s farm and a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

For him, reclaiming indigenous agricultural practices is not just about building a more climate-resilient food system.

It’s a way to reclaim elements of native culture that the US government has tried to suppress or destroy over many years of forced assimilation.

“For hundreds of years we fought hard…and we still fight to this day to get things back that were ours in the first place,” says Johnson. “Because these seeds are important.”

So he hopes that revitalizing and passing on indigenous agricultural knowledge will help his community thrive.

Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media


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