Richard Felger has always been a little ahead of his time. Even before he was a teenager in southern California, he cultivated rare cacti and orchids at home, and kept three alligators in his bathtub.
Before he graduated from the University of Arizona, he shadowed some of the world’s greatest desert ecologists. On his first trip down to Alamos, Sonora, he realized what would drive his career: the Sonoran Desert was full of wonders, and some of them were delectable.
MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award recipient and Edible Baja Arizona senior contributing editor Gary Nabhan is leading the charge with Barnraiser fundraiser.
His goal? To fund the creation of a commercial kitchen within easy reach of five orchards growing arid-adapted fruits and herbs in Patagonia, Arizona, and then work with local immigrant and refugee populations to create shrubs, preserved fruit syrups made using millennia-old recipes consisting of vinegar, fruit, sugar, and herbs.
Before anything else, I want to apologize for previously failing to acknowledge your value to our society at large, and to more fully support you in gaining traction with your endeavors. In four decades of writing about farming and ranching, I am afraid I have missed the mark by not writing about the issues most critical to your health and well-being.
I have been so attracted to helping save the seeds, breeds, soil, and water of food-producing land that I failed to notice that, first and foremost, those resources need bright, passionate, energetic, and innovative farmers and farmworkers if they are to survive and thrive.
Three hundred years ago, Spanish missionaries introduced a suite of arid-adapted fruit and herb varieties to the Sonoran Desert region, many of which have barely survived to this day.
These desert-adapted, heirloom fruits enriched the diets and diversified the farms indigenous and immigrants alike, but fell out of availability and culinary fashion. Today, these forgotten fruits are once again needed because they are tolerant of heat, drought and even alkaline conditions.