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Borderlands Restoration Farm Purchase

We are thrilled to announce that Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) has finalized the purchase of the 60-acre farm we have been renting portions of in Patagonia from Native Seeds SEARCH (NSS)! This purchase was made in collaboration with NSS, our previous landlord, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which holds the conservation easement over the land. 


This purchase would not be possible without the generous support of Valer Clark, Loretta and Chris Stadler, and the Carroll Petrie Foundation. We would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to the visioning and efforts of this farm throughout the last decade, including the Patagonia community, our native plant program volunteers, past and present leadership and staff at BRN, our impassioned native plant and seed customers, and our restoration partners over the years. We have spent years negotiating this acquisition with these fantastic, like-minded partners and organizations and are happy to celebrate this achievement throughout the year. 


BRN staff. Photo: Bill Steen.
BRN staff. Photo: Bill Steen.

Over the past decade, BRN has built a renowned regional center for native plant and seed production on a 10-acre leased portion of the Native Seeds/SEARCH's (NSS) conservation farm in Patagonia, AZ. BRN's Native Plant Program was founded in 2012 when a group of restoration practitioners identified and responded to the need to promote and protect biodiversity by providing individuals, communities, and land managers access to restoration-quality plant materials and guidance for effective use. We offer frequent public workshops and trainingyouth programming through our facilities, as well as organically grown plants and seeds specific to the Madrean Archipelago's semi-arid highlands to support local restoration efforts and for retail sale.


A view of the BRN 60-acre farm.
A view of the BRN 60-acre farm.

We are working to expand the current wild native seed fields to increase production capacity and fill growing needs for locally adapted seed for ecological restoration projects in the region, which will also expand our educational and job training opportunities. Expanding production is crucial for providing native seed for projects aimed at improving degraded ecosystems and for post-fire reseeding efforts. Currently, BRN is using five acres of the farm for six nursery container plant greenhouses, as well as our current seed fields, where we grow 15 species of native plants on two acres, producing hundreds of pounds of seed annually. In 2022, we started renting an additional five acres, including a 3,000 sq ft seed storage and processing facility, with large drying racks for our farmed seed collections and climate-controlled storage. ​


BN&S seed fields in Patagonia.
BN&S seed fields in Patagonia.

Since NSS fallowed their operations on the farm in 2017, BRN has envisioned the farm as an incredible opportunity to expand our native seed and plant production and educational programming. The sale will also benefit NSS by expanding its operations in Tucson with the proceeds. 


The newly acquired Borderlands Restoration Farm is located near the confluence of Sonoita and Harshaw Creeks, which provides beautiful, well-draining alluvial soils and creates some of the best farmland in southern Arizona. The fields have likely been farmed for thousands of years, first by native peoples, including the Tohono O'odham, then for alfalfa production in the 1950s, heirloom domesticated native crop seed in the early 2000s, and now for wild native seed for ecological restoration.


Last aerial photo of the 60-acre farm taken in 2019.
Last aerial photo of the 60-acre farm taken in 2019.

Owning the farm eliminates our lease insecurity and allows us to expand the production and sale of native seeds and grow our educational programming on the site. It will take us many years to establish the whole farm in a diversity of wild native perennial species suitable for restoration in our region. Once the farm is established, it will be time to return to our early fields and re-plant. Perennial farming of wild plants requires little irrigation (we establish our plants on a drip and then wean them off over the next few years once the roots develop). We hope to support this trend throughout our larger communities and learn from our farm so that fields of wild native seed are achievable in increased acreage in both the United States and Mexico.


This year, the Native Plant Program is busy with many projects, but we still make time to celebrate. Join us at our Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, May 4, from 8AM to 2PM, where we will have farm tours, plants for sale, ceramic vendors, and wine in a soft celebration of this important milestone. Also, save the date of Saturday, October 5, when we'll party the night away at the Seed Barn in celebration of the many exciting projects to come on this incredible farm.

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