Spring means planting season at Crow Canyon, as dryland farmers from the Hopi Reservation in Arizona came to sow traditional varieties of corn in gardens on the Crow Canyon campus.
Joel Nichols from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office and Ronald Wadsworth, Delwyn Takala, and Kevin Crook from the Hopi Cultural Resources Advisory Team joined Crow Canyon researchers Dr. Mark Varien, Paul Ermigiotti, Grant Coffey, and volunteer Read Brugger for the annual Pueblo Farming Project planting on May 16–17. The group planted several varieties of corn, beans, and squash on several experimental gardens scattered across the Crow Canyon campus, as well as an experimental garden near Dove Creek, Colorado.
The Pueblo Farming Project is funded through a grant from History Colorado–State Historical Fund, as well as the generous support of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center donors and program participants.
Since 2006, Pueblo farmers have visited Crow Canyon in the spring and fall to teach the Center's researchers and educators about traditional farming, food storage, and food preparation techniques. Together, farmers and staff have planted and harvested several experimental gardens to test farming techniques and varieties of seeds used by the Pueblo farmers in their own fields.
The data collected for the Pueblo Farming Project—which includes detailed measurements of plants at different stages of growth, daily temperature and precipitation values, crop yields, and preliminary results of corn DNA analysis—helps Crow Canyon researchers and educators to better understand ancient environmental conditions and agricultural productivity and their effects on human settlement patterns.
For the Hopi farmers, the project is helping them to pass their knowledge of dryland farming techniques to future generations, as well as helping to ensure that the distinctive DNA of Hopi corn is maintained in a time of genetically-modified seeds.
The group from Hopi will return to Crow Canyon to help harvest the corn later this fall.