Pueblo Farming Project Harvest Time

October means harvest time at Crow Canyon, as members of the Hopi Tribe joined with Crow Canyon researchers to pick traditionally grown corn from several experimental fields across the campus.

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Owen Numkena of the Hopi Tribe and Crow Canyon's Paul Ermigiotti talk corn.

Leigh Kuwanwisiwma and Lee Wayne Lomayestewa of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (HCPO), along with Ronald Wadsworth and Owen Numkena of HCPO's Cultural Resource Advisory Team, joined Crow Canyon staff for the annual Pueblo Farming Project (PFP) corn harvest on October 13.

The PFP is an ongoing joint collaboration between Crow Canyon and the Hopi Tribe to help research how ancestral Pueblo people grew and sustained themselves on crops like corn, beans, and squash in the region's arid climate. Modern Hopi farmers use many of the same dry farming techniques mastered by people in the Mesa Verde region more than a thousand years ago.

In May, Crow Canyon researchers planted the corn, squash, and beans in five experimental fields—each with its own unique soil, temperature, and moisture profile—scattered across the Crow Canyon campus, as well as another experimental field located at a higher elevation approximately 35 miles north of Crow Canyon.

The experiment involved two types of traditional Hopi corn—blue and white—using seed stock harvested from previous crops. The Hopi farmers provided instruction on how to plant, tend, and harvest the corn in traditional ways, as well as how to control pests, deal with frost, and other information.

Crow Canyon researchers are using the data collected to build models to show how ancestral Pueblo people were able to grow enough food to sustain their populations in the area for hundreds of years—including through several periods of extreme drought. The knowledge gained from the PFP is having a profound impact on Crow Canyon's research into ancient environmental conditions and agricultural productivity—and the effects of both on human settlement.

In addition, the project is showing how corn and farming are closely tied to Pueblo culture and spirituality. The collaboration—and the data being learned—is not only helping Crow Canyon educational programs but is also being used to design educational curriculum and school programs for Hopi youth.

Click here for more information about the Pueblo Farming Project.

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