Arid Crops Seed Cache

Arid Crops Seed Cache

Arid Crop Seed Cache (ACSC), a project of Cuatro Puertas, is a seed library in New Mexico that protects and promotes diverse crop varieties while sowing a movement for grassroots, self-reliant seed growing and saving. ACSC stewards a collection of seeds with a tolerance for arid conditions, supports many people who are learning the process of seed growing, and is growing a community that takes the responsibility of seed preservation into their own hands.

Joshua Cravens is the project director of ACSC and has been a seed grower for over 16 years. Preserving seeds and creating new varieties over time is crucial, but for Joshua developing the next generation of seed stewards and putting seed knowledge back into our communities is some of the most important work we can do right now.

Joshua Cravens “got the seed bug” at a young age when volunteering on an organic farm in Florida. His first seed saving experience stimulated a life-changing passion. He realized that seed saving is an art that affects us physically, mentally, and spiritually. After farming in a half a dozen states, Joshua traveled to Oregon to immerse himself in the art of seed growing. In 1999 he and his wife, Lalynn put down roots on a farm in New Mexico in the northern reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert, where they continue to grow with their two sons, Ashe and Mokena.

The Craven's own farm, Jardin del Alma, sits at an elevation of 5400 feet on the edge of two climate zones. This allows them to raise a wide variety of crops, including popcorn, corn, squash, watermelon, melons, runner beans, bush and pole beans, chilies, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, onions, millet, sorghum, cucumbers and sesame to name a few. The crops are irrigated through a combination of flood and drip irrigation. The row crops are managed in quasi permaculture model, encouraging microecoystems throughout the farm. Volunteer plants in the garden are encouraged, allowing nature to select and acclimate them to the farm’s environment, in concert with the farmers’ efforts to screen for cultural practice, flavor and other traits of interest.

Breeding and varietal improvement efforts have been focused on 15 crops, seeking to encourage diversity and select for vitality and resistance to disease, pests, weed pressures, drought, and climatic extremes. Joshua’s goal is to steward the plant’s ability to take care of itself rather than play the role of a heavy caretaker or protector—to get back to a place where the crops can grow themselves under our stewardship, with less energy and resource.  His seed specialities include popcorn, corn, squash, watermelon, melon, runner beans, bush and pole beans, chilis, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, onions, collards, lentils, garbanzos, millet, sorghum, cucumbers, and sesame.  His farm also produces fruits and nuts, including apples, pears, pomegranates, and pistachios

Joshua was drawn to the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative because seeds are communal in nature. "The community model of seed saving and varietal improvement is the only model that has ever worked. Seed growers and seed savers have so much to share with each other and to learn from each other." Working together in bioregional efforts provides a foundation for cooperation and spawning more seed growers, Joshua’s greatest interest.

Joshua Cravens
Arid Crops Seed Cache
Monticello, NM 87939

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