Whatever you dream of growing, Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson, Arizona, can help. Co-founded by Gary Nabhan and Mahina Drees in 1983, the seed-conservation nonprofit has its hands in many dirt beds. The crew collects and preserves 2,000 varieties of heirloom seeds. Some 500 seeds are grown at its conservation farm in Patagonia, AZ, and sold via a brick-and-mortar retail shop in central Tucson. As a traveler, this is where you’re most likely to wind up—poking around the packs of indigenous vegetable and wildflower seeds and asking the well-informed staffers questions about altitude, sunlight, and how not to kill everything you touch.
The store is a treat for green thumbs, selling packets of future tomatillos and tobacco, sunflowers and sorghum, okra and indigo. So many melon options! So much exotic corn! Non-gardening types will be pleased to know that there is a pantry full of Southwestern staples, including dried beans, locally smoked olive oil, prickly pear balsamic vinegar, Del Arbol powder, jalapeño salt, Hopi desert tea, mole sauces, and salsa verdes. For a more unusual souvenir, pick up a handmade bar of creosote bush soap, a velvet mesquite cutting board, hand-dipped beeswax candles from Saguaro Honey Farm, or a bottle of Chilttepica‘s dry chiltepines. The tiny, kicky red chiles pop in your mouth like firecrackers, livening up every dish they touch. The store even grows its own capsicum annum up front—ask a worker to show you the bush on your way out.
3061 N. Campbell Ave., Tucson, AZ; 520-622-5561.