NAU Sustainable Communities Program

The Three Little Pigs taught us to be skeptical of straw houses. But, since the early 1900’s, humans have shown there’s a lot more to building with straw than the old fairytale suggests.

Straw bale homes are works of art with a uniquely southwestern feel. They’re often built with sculptural reliefs and alcoves carved into their thick, earthy walls.

Earth Notes: The Cedar Mesa Building Murals Project

Jun 23, 2021
Bureau of Land Management

Cedar Mesa, in the southern Bears Ears region of Utah, is home to many ancestral Pueblo cliff-dwellings: for archaeologists, it’s a research Shangri La.

The ancient kivas and common living areas are adorned with intricate plaster murals and etchings. Some replicate the intricate patterns of yucca plants, others cotton textiles. They are an invaluable resource for learning about the ancestral Puebloan communities that occupied the area more than 700 years ago.

Earth Notes: Eat More Bugs!

Jun 16, 2021
The University of Arizona/Arizona Insect Festival

Close to a decade ago, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report with a six-legged directive: eat more bugs. With the human population set to exceed 9 billion by 2050, we’re going to need new sources of food to satisfy our growing demand. Insects are a rich source of protein, already consumed regularly by some 2 billion people worldwide.

Earth Notes: Camp Verde's Historic 'Pecan Lane'

May 26, 2021
Getty Images

The Southwest has plenty of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. But, in the central Arizona town of Camp Verde, a streetscape defined by a set of trees has also made the list.

They’re pecan trees, planted in 1927 by Eva Haydon, daughter-in-law of the land owner at the time. The trees line a stretch of the Montezuma Castle Highway, what locals call ‘Pecan Lane.’ They were the first of many planted in the area.

Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture Institute

Hopi people cultivate a dazzling array of corn varieties. They come in a kaleidoscope of colors; blue, red, yellow and purple, all starting from humble seeds.

For the Hopi, seeds are considered kin and treated as such. They root people to their land and cultural traditions. Women are entrusted with seed stewardship, carrying for them like one might care for a close relative. These stewards pass the seeds to the next generation as part of a collective inheritance.