Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

Gary P. Nabhan, PhD.

Gary Nabhan circa 2012Gary Paul Nabhan was born in March of 1952 in Gary, Indiana.[4]  He attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa then Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona.  He received his PhD in Arid Lands Resources from the University of Arizona in 1983.[4]

His professional career began with the Office of Arid Land Studies at the University of Arizona as a research associate. By 1981, he was a project manager for "Meals for Millions" [in Tuscon, Arizona] and was instrumental in starting their Southwest Traditional Crop Conservancy Garden and Seed Bank.[7]

In 1983 he co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH, a grassroots conservation organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the native seeds of the desert southwest. He was assistant director at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, and later writer-in-residence and director of science at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

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, where he now serves as the W. K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona Southwest Center.

He is a member of the Scientific and Project Committee of The Ethnobiology and Conservation Team (ECT), an international group of biologists, activists, anthropologists, conservationists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and artists committed to carrying out conservation at the grass roots level.

Some of his awards include a John Burroughs Medal (1986) for outstanding nature writing in "Gathering the Desert,"[4,8], a McArthur Fellowship (1990-95), a Pew Scholarship for Conservation and the Environment (1991), and was named an Utne Reader visionary in 2011.[2]  He has also been honored with two honorary PhD.s, lifetime achievement awards from the Society for Conservation Biology, the Quivira Coalition, the Chefs Collaborative, Edible Communities and the Western Parks Association.[8,9]


  1. "Keeping traditions on the menu: Three conservation organizations consider ecological and cultural landscapes as they preserve old crops and develop new ones," by Anna Maria Gillis, BioScience, July/August 1993, pgs. 425-430

  2. "Gary Paul Nabhan: Mother Nature's Foodie," by Keith Goetzman, Utne Reader, November–December 2011

  3. "Redesigning Regional Food Traditions" [Video Series], Clackamas Community College, April 14, 2011 - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

  4. Gary Paul Nabhan papers, 1969- , Arizona Archives Onlin, Collection Number: MS 337

  5. "Papago fields: arid lands ethnobotany and agricultural ecology," Doctoral Thesis, 1983

  6. "Defining Slow Food and Local Food" [Video Series], - Ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan defines "slow food" and "local food" during an interview with Earth Eats' Host Annie Corrigan on January 23rd, 2009

  7. "Seed Savers Exchange: The First Ten Years, 1975-1985," pgs. 116-118

  8. Official Site: Gary Nabhan

  9. Wikipedia Biography Page

Books by Gary Nabhan:


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