The Climate Science Alliance team recently met with our partners to plan the Prickly Pear Harvest 2023. This marks the first time that the Climate Science Alliance will actively participate in organizing this event, making it a meaningful occasion for our team and partners. Learn more on today’s guest blog from Indigenous Land Rematriation Specialist, Shannon Magee!
The Climate Science Alliance is excited to welcome Shannon Magee as our Indigenous Land Rematriation Specialist! Joining the team earlier this year as a Climate and Community Fellow, Shannon continues her work as the lead of our new project focused on Indigenous food sovereignty, “Reconnecting with Our Food Relatives: Strengthening our Relationship with Food and Community”.
On today’s blog, hear from Shannon about the Climate Science Alliance’s role in supporting this year’s Prickly Pear Harvest and training with our partners at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and the Pala Cultural Resource Committee.
Guest blog written by Shannon Magee, Indigenous Land Rematriation Specialist
The Climate Science Alliance, represented by team members Shannon Magee, Madison Wilson, and Paula Sternberg Rodríguez, recently engaged in a significant meeting with Charlie A. de la Rosa, Ph.D., Natural Lands Manager, from the San Diego Zoo and Wildlife Alliance, and Chris Nejo, spokesperson for the Pala Cultural Resource Committee. The rendezvous took place at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research and revolved around the eagerly anticipated Prickly Pear Harvest event set to unfold this October 2023 at the San Diego Safari Park Biodiversity Reserve. This marks the first time that the Climate Science Alliance will actively participate in organizing this event, making it a meaningful occasion for our team.
The team's visit included an inspiring tour of the sprawling biodiversity reserve—a breathtaking expanse of 900 acres featuring untouched coastal sage scrub vegetation. This pristine landscape holds great cultural and historical significance, as it resides on the ancestral lands of the Kumeyaay people. It is home to an abundance of native species, supporting 24 mammal, 179 bird, 28 reptile, and 4 amphibian species. Amazingly, the area supports 16 species of native snakes, more than have been found anywhere else in Southern California!
The Prickly Pear Harvest holds particular importance due to its ties with the Climate Science Alliance’s Stewardship Pathways, Indigenous Food Sovereignty project, aptly named "Reconnecting with Our Plant Relatives: Strengthening our Relationship to Food and Community." Central to the event is the acknowledgment of the traditional use of prickly pear as a vital food source for the Kumeyaay and Payomkawichum people. Attendees will be treated to insights and tools on the art of harvesting and preparing this cherished food relative with guidance from local Indigenous elders and cultural practitioners.
Following their time on the reserve, the participants indulged in a delectable meal at the Safari Park's Mawazo Restaurant, enriching the experience further. Heartfelt gratitude to Chris Nejo and Charlie de la Rosa, who invited the Climate Science Alliance to be part of this special day.
The event's focus on Indigenous Food Sovereignty and fostering knowledge sharing on the harvesting and preparing of the delicious prickly pear cactus is inspiring. We look forward to collaborating on future events like this one with our partners that support Indigenous communities reconnecting to our ancestral lands and strengthening our relationship with our traditional foods and community.
The Climate Science Alliance's mission, which centers on protecting both plant and animal relatives from the impacts of climate change, seamlessly aligns with the collaborative partnerships cultivated throughout this endeavor. The Alliance team expresses deep appreciation to all partners and acknowledges the enduring stewardship of the Kumeyaay peoples, who continue to care for the land. This shared dedication paves the way for ongoing relationship-building, strengthening climate resilience, and reconnection with these vital food relatives.