Enhancing Livelihoods & Diets in the Desert Borderlands
Gary Nabhan, Gerardo Ruiz Smith, Emily E Sherbrooke
MESQUITE is the most abundant forestry resource in most of the poorest counties and municipios in the Desert Borderland. And yet, if it properly managed, mesquite can offer quality hardwoods for furniture and musical instruments, pods for foods, beverages and anti-diabetic medicinals, smoke for grilling rubs and chips, as well as honey, mead, and propolis to support rural families. In addition, mesquite can be pruned and thinned to enhance wildlife habitat and livestock pasture, and reduce wildfire risk.
Probably no other plant has played such a vital role in the ecologies, and among human populations, of the arid and semi-arid regions of Mexico and the US. This extremely resilient and adaptable tree has a rich ethnobotanical history and holds great potential to become a major staple food crop for drylands throughout the world while supporting climate change mitigation efforts and providing food security in the face of desertification, water stress, and climatic instability.
This manual is intended to train underemployed or unemployed desert dwellers so that they can gain satisfying livelihoods and liveable wages in a restorative rather than an extractive economy. It was developed by the University of Arizona Southwest Center in collaboration with the Borderlands Restoration Network, Regeneration International, Mission Gardens, and master artisans to develop mesquite artisan training centers along both sides of the border. It was supported by the University's AIRS programs in 2022
You can also watch Gerardo Ruiz Smith's lecture Mesquite and Permaculture in Food Systems on our YOUTUBE CHANNEL