Searching For Crops Long Forgotten

Phalaris Caroliniana or commonly known as maygrass is hidden among the cornfields of southeastern Arkansas. Maygrass was once a domesticated crop of indigenous people.
Photo Courtesy of Natalie Mueller

Over 2000 years ago many indigenous people living in North America were skilled at breeding and domesticating crops, such as the squash and sunflower we’re familiar with today. continue to Wisconsin Public Radio →

By Natalie Guyette
Air Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 3:15pm; Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 5:15pm

Hunting for the ancient lost farms of North America

At Ash Cave in Ohio, archaeologists discovered an enormous cache of seeds from lost crops, including domesticated native goosefoot (similar to quinoa). These seeds were so far from their wild habitats that they had clearly been domesticated.

Adventurers and archaeologists have spent centuries searching for lost cities in the Americas. But over the past decade, they’ve started finding something else: lost farms. Over 2,000 years ago in North America, indigenous people domesticated plants that are now part of our everyday diets, such as squashes and sunflowers. continue reading →

The Secret Larder of Ancient America

The lost crops of the Eastern Agricultural Complex.: a, Goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri). b, Sumpweed/marshelder (Iva annua). c, Little barley (Hordeum pusillum). d, Erect knotweed (Polygonum erectum). e, Maygrass (Phalaris caroliniana). Image in a courtesy of S.C.; images in b–e courtesy of N.G.M.

“There’s a fascinating paper in Nature Plants by Mueller et alGrowing the lost crops of eastern North America’s original agricultural system. When you think of Native American agriculture you probably think of maize, beans and pumpkin. What Mueller et al. look at is a much earlier agricultural system.” continue reading →

Looking to the past for solutions today

Dr. Stephen Carmody
Dr. Stephen Carmody founded the Native Cultigen Project at Sewanee: The University of the South. (Photo courtesy Stephen Carmody)

“One of the most recognized environmental crises we face is food production. Many looking for alternatives to unsustainable industrial agriculture look to methods that are just as industrialized and concentrated as current methods, which is really just making food production less unsustainable rather than really getting to the root of the problem – maize.” continue reading →