Introducing: One Seed Pima County

Join the Seed Libraryopens a new window for One Seed Pima County, a community-wide seed initiative bringing us together through the celebration and preservation of the unique food crops of our desert home.

One Seed Pima County is an opportunity for us to share the experience of planting, growing, harvesting, and appreciating one specially chosen, regional plant variety together as a community. At harvest time, gardeners are encouraged to drop off a small portion of their harvested seeds to become one with the harvests of other community members; to become One Seed Pima County.

We’re kicking-off One Seed Pima County in the extreme heat of summer and there’s no better crop that exemplifies the tenacity and resiliency needed to survive the hot, arid conditions of summer in the Sonoran Desert than the Brown tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius). Tepary beans, or bawĭ in Tohono O’Odham, a cousin of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), are an ancient variety that have been grown by native peoples of the Southwest for thousands of years. Through the many generations of cultivation, tepary beans have become super drought tolerant, heat loving, easy to grow, and delicious beans, plus they're self-pollinating, so they're perfect for beginning gardeners!

Check-out part 1 of the Native Seeds/SEARCHopens a new window blogpost, A Celebration of Tepary Beans, to learn more about this hearty and nutritious bean.

Sow...what do you need to know?


Pick-up a packet of brown tepary beans at any one of the 8 Seed Library locationsopens a new window or reserve a packet through the online catalog to be sent to you at your local branch library.

Check-out our How To Use the Seed Libraryopens a new window video!


Typically planted in July with the monsoons, they like soil that holds water well but still has good drainage. Tepary beans that are over-watered will look green and leafy but will not bear much fruit, again, a perfect arid-lands crop! Plant beans eyes down, 2” deep, 4-6” apart, leaving ample room for them to bush out. Keep soil damp until seeds have germinated, then water every 3 days. Once plants are 8” tall, water root area only when they look thirsty.

Check-out the Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA) video Growing Tepary Beans.


As the pods begin to turn brown and dry out (Sept/Oct), stop watering. When 80% of the pods are brown, harvest the entire plant, pulling or cutting from the ground. Let them dry in a bucket or an old pillowcase for a few more days. The pods will shatter as they dry, sending seeds scattering all over, so keeping them in a contained yet airy space to dry is recommended. Once pods are completely dry, thrash pods to release beans, remove chaff, leaves and sticks. You can even check-out seed cleaning screensopens a new window  from the library to help with your cleaning.

Check-out part 2 of the Native Seeds/SEARCH blogpost, A Celebration of Tepary Beans to explore the culinary uses of the tepary beans.


At harvest time, set a small amount of your brown tepary beans aside and bring them to any one of the many drop-off spots around town to be combined with the harvests of others:


The real beauty of One Seed Pima County is the opportunity it creates for us to come together as a community, putting seed to soil to honor and learn more about the rich agricultural roots of our desert home. Not to mention the gift of conserving seeds for future generations. We are grateful to you all for taking part in One Seed Pima County, now grow forth and be seedy!