My understanding is that the Dine (Navajo) peaches are all propagated by seed. If you plant them near modern varieties the seed produced will not be true and will have some modern genetics mixed in. Rooted cuttings or grafted trees would not be part of the traditional practice. I’m in southern utah canyon country at about 5500 ft and I would love to try to grow some but I also want to respect the wishes of the native growers.
They will probably end ups as rootstock, or hybridized with modern peaches, what a waste. When they could share the seeds and we could all help to keep them the way they are.
Seeds are not being shared widely for the time being. These seeds are extremely precious and much work must be done prior to sharing them widely. You must understand that these seeds are sacred. The federal government’s scorched earth policy in the 1860’s against the Southwest’s indigenous tribes was horrific and barbaric. The effects of those acts and policies since, to this day, still in 2024, are very real and the reality. These seeds were kept hidden and secret for many years from outsiders, especially the federal government. Fast forward to today, and here we are. After years of trekking and door knocking, these seeds were found. It would take another few years to gain the trust from the families that kept these seeds safe for over 100 years. Elders entrusted Reagan with these seeds to ensure their safety, care, and eventual resurgence. Some of these elders have unfortunately since passed as a result of the pandemic. Once you understand the history and significance of these seeds, you will know the responsibility of the weight they bare. I can assure you the work being with these peaches will take time. Please have patience.
A few growers/farms/organizations in western New Mexico are assisting in the growing of these trees from seed. These seeds come from fruit harvested in a northern Utah orchard that have been genetically confirmed to be 100% heirloom types. These new peach trees will be genetically tested this year to ensure their viability. Trees that have cross-pollinated will be removed and planted elsewhere in the community, far away. The goal is to have isolated growers grow a certain heirloom variety exclusively. It would be at these dedicated sites where certain heirloom varieties can be grown in abundance. Currently, the Hozho Voices of Healing Center in Borrego Pass, NM is going to be exclusively growing the variety of peach from Canyon del Muerto, AZ. This variety is small like an apricot, white fleshed with a kiss of blush, and very hardy to the region’s harsh winters. Other sites for the Hopi Gold and Navajo Mountain peach are still being sought out.
Until we can start growing these trees in abundance they must be protected. These old world varieties have been isolated for so long they could be very prone to disease and pests. Companies and nurseries are very interested in these peaches and are wanting to make a profit from them. This the last thing we want to happen with these peaches. No one owns these. They’re for everybody. But before they’re widely made available to everyone, certain measures must be taken to preserve their integrity, including legal ones.
Thank you for sharing this update @Highdesertgardener, and I’m glad to hear this project is being done in a way that respects the culture and wishes of the people who hold these trees as sacred.
How far away are you from Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain? I believe there is a need for an isolated grower in the region. LMK
You’re very welcome @swincher. I’ll be doing updates here and there on the Hozho Center’s website and social media. You can find more information at ‘hozhocenter dot org’. Cheers