Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD, is an ecologist, ethnobotanist, writer, food and farming advocate, rural lifeways folklorist, and conservationist whose work has long been rooted in the U.S./Mexico borderlands region. A first generation Lebanese-American, Nabhan was raised in Gary, Indiana. He served as Director of Science at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit conservation organization that works to preserve indigenous southwestern agricultural plants as well as knowledge of their uses. Nabhan was the founding director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University. In 2008 he joined the University of Arizona faculty as a Research Social Scientist with the Southwest Center.
His work with RAFT (Renenwing America’s Food Traditions) and Slow Food is bringing local farmers, chefs, fishers, agricultural historians, ranchers, nurserymen and conservation activists together to exchange information, tell the stories of regional foods and producers. Through RAFT, these communities publish lists of traditional regional foods, telling readers where seeds, nursery stock, or seafood and livestock hatchlings can be purchased to aid in their recovery. The result is the growth of food-concerned communities that are reestablishing healthy local economies.
In this conversation with Gary, he tells us about the decline of apple varieties here in America. RAFT has christened 2010 as the “Year of the Heirloom Apple” to engage food communities in the restoration of apple varieties and culinary traditions specific to their regions. A key component of RAFT’s apple initiative is release of “The Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto – APPLES,” (download pdf) a brochure that builds upon the collective knowledge of more than a dozen of America’s most experienced heirloom apple experts.
More on the here > Year of the Heirloom Apple and here > The Heirloom Apple of Your Eye, Your Taste Palette and Your Place.