Nov. 20: Advocate promotes agricultural, cultural diversity

By Louisa Winkler, WSU Mount Vernon

Gary-Nabhan-80MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – An expert on the cultural and plant diversity stewarded by farming communities around the world will present the free, public Harvest Seminar at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Washington State University Mount Vernon Research Center, 16650 State Route 536.

Spanish language simultaneous translation will be provided. More information is available from Louisa Winkler at or 360-848-6129.

Speaker Gary Paul Nabhan is an author and co-founder of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit that protects crop seeds of Native American and other ethnic cultures, and of Renewing America’s Food Traditions, a network dedicated to rescuing diverse foods and food traditions.

“Agriculture is under increasing pressure in today’s economy to expand and homogenize, and the number of crop varieties in production across North America is declining,” said Steve Jones, research center director and plant breeder. “This impoverishment is a cultural loss, but also makes agriculture more vulnerable.

“It is vitally important to understand that the diversity arising within cultures and regions has relevance at a wider scale and needs to be protected,” he said. “Gary Nabhan has a unique power to communicate this.”

An annual event organized by graduate students, the talk is an opportunity for growers, researchers and the community to come together and think about the big picture of food and farming. The seminar is sponsored by PCC Natural Markets and the research center.

“This is an agricultural region sensitive to the power of diversity, both culturally and botanically,” said Kelly Ann Atterberry, master’s degree student in horticulture. “Farmers in Skagit County alone grow more than 90 different crop types, and many farmers collaborate with breeding programs at the research center to develop plant varieties adapted for the region.”

In his book, “Where Our Food Comes From” (Shearwater, 2008), Nabhan argues that the conservation of varieties can help humanity adapt to changes in the environment, as well as bring color and enjoyment to our physical and culinary landscapes.


Steve Jones, WSU Mount Vernon Research Center,, 360-416-5210
Louisa Winkler, WSU Mount Vernon graduate student,, 360-848-6129