Dear Seed Beings,
Seedshed is closing its doors after six nurturing, collaborative, and impactful seed seasons.
While much of our seed rematriation work is necessarily quiet, intimate, and out of the spotlight, we have relied on and appreciated the love and care that you have given us over the years.
Due to pressing medical issues, I must step back from Seedshed to care for my health. As a result of my unexpected and unclear healing journey, I will not be able to provide leadership for our dedicated staff, secure continued funding for our work, and maintain effective partnerships with our allied communities. Therefore, Seedshed will close on May 28, 2021.
Remembering Our Roots
In seed care there are no beginnings or ends, only cycles from seed to seed. So, standing at this moment that could be seen as an end, I am reminded of the beginning. Seedshed first grew out of my years of caring for seeds and digging my fingers deep into the earth. An idea whispered through my mind and started to take root: “We care for seeds and seeds care for us.”
I wondered if there could be a sanctuary that would provide a safe place for seeds and seed people to come together. What would happen if such a space existed where the relationship between seeds and people could grow, bloom, go to seed, and be shared back out into the community?
Many of you already understand the importance of seed justice. Seeds connect our past to our present while promising hope for our future. Seeds allow families to savor today what their ancestors ate hundreds of years ago. For some cultures, their connections to the seeds at the root of their sense of self were severed violently and not by choice. For other people, convenience, changing societal norms, and corporate interests have broken their relationships with seeds. Seedshed endeavored to help strengthen human relationships with the seeds that sustain us.
Growing With Our Communities
Looking back, Seedshed evolved into more than I could have dreamed. This is largely because of the vision of our community partners, the talent and hard work of Seedshed’s staff, and the support of our community. I am particularly proud of and thankful for the synergistic, trusting, and deeply meaningful relationships that we have developed over the years.
All of our community partner relationships have been special and gave our work even greater purpose. I especially want to highlight the below partnerships:
Akwesasne is Seedshed’s longest relationship. The St. Regis Mohawk Indian Tribe, whose hunting grounds and trade routes ran from Canada down to the Catskill Mountains, is now centered on the reservation known as Akwesasne in Northern New York State. Our first seed of solidarity was sown with this Mohawk community and their Freedom School. Our relationship has grown with the seeds, deepened with their roots, and has supported leaders in Akwesasne in sharing culturally resonant seeds and foods with their community. Akwesasne invited Seedshed to contribute to and witness the community’s growth toward seed sovereignty. This season also marks an important turning point of more fully centering leadership and support within Akwesasne.
Lenape Center engages in the work of continuing Lenapehoking, the homeland of the Lenape, through art, music, and partnerships with organizations from Manhattan up into the Hudson Valley- the homelands of the Lenape people. Last year the Lenape Center partnered with Seedshed to bring the living culture of the Lenape back to the soils along the Esopus river through planting Lenape seeds. This season’s corn and beans, which will continue through seed harvests, will enable leaders in the Lenape Center to share seeds across the broad diaspora of Lenapehoking so that the seeds can thrive in the hands of their people.
Palestine Heirloom Seed Library combats the erasure of Palestinian culture by growing and distributing seeds to Palestinian farmers so that they can preserve their culture and cook the foods that remind them of home. Last year’s Yakteen seeds are now safely in the hands of Palestinian growers across the country and will live on and bring hope in the form of strong vines, delicate flowers, and delicious gourds.
Reclaim Seed visited our field during the early stages of the pandemic and collected seeds from plants that held meaning for their members. They even brought back unprocessed seeds to mail them to Reclaim Seed members to virtually teach them how to reclaim seed skills considering they could not meet in person during the pandemic.
Morton Seed Library has grown every year and is now part of a larger effort with a new project, called Library of Local, working to share seeds across our community.
Even though Seedshed’s growing cycle is at its end, these organizations will continue to pursue seed sovereignty and champion seed justice in ways that are most meaningful in their home communities. If you don’t already do so, I strongly encourage you to support these groups and their communities so that they may continue to grow, save, and share seeds. And I hope you will personally continue your seed journey and deepen your love for the plant world.
Many staff, volunteers, donors, artists, farmers, and gardeners wholeheartedly supported seeds and seed beings in and out of the field and nourished Seedshed’s soul. The following key partners helped transform Seedshed from the seed of an idea to becoming who we are today. These partners include
NoVo Foundation understood and embraced how honoring seeds can transform our relationships with our communities, ancestors, and the land on which we stand. NoVo’s early and continued financial support gave Seedshed the space and ability to engage with new communities, nurture vibrant partnering relationships, and achieve our mission of growing community through the wonder of seeds and saving seeds through the power of community.
Hudson Valley Farm Hub gave us access to land and essential equipment, prepared, planted, and cultivated the soil, helped us with funding, hosted events, and more than that, gave their hearts to these relationships. I especially thank the Farm Hub for furthering indigenous seed rematriation plantings and caring for the seeds.
The New World Foundation has served as fiscal sponsor to Seedshed and, in this capacity, their staff has provided tremendous support and encouragement for all our efforts. Our program wouldn’t be where it is today without New World. I am especially grateful for the support New World has provided during this transition.
I look forward to communicating with you and returning to seed care when I am able to do so.
With deepest gratitude for you, the earth, and the living seed,