Reclaim Seed NYC: An urban seed justice initiative rooted in education & community.
Seed Leadership: Jacqueline Pilati
Jacqueline Pilati is an urban farmer, teacher, and seed keeper. In 2018, she founded Reclaim Seed NYC, an urban seed initiative rooted in education and community. The project stewards a community-sustained seed library, while educating and organizing for seed justice and food sovereignty. Reclaim Seed NYC reconnects people to plants and places through historical literacy, food, and seed.
About Reclaim Seed NYC from Jacquiline Pilati:
Reclaim Seed NYC is a women of color led collective working towards community-based seed justice and food sovereignty in New York City, supporting a dynamic community of urban growers growing food on almost 46 acres throughout NYC. The project stewards a free public seed library and ethnobotanical teaching garden hosted by the King Manor Museum in Jamaica, Queens.
As one of the last vestiges of “the commons”, libraries are a community hub, a source of knowledge and inspiration, and act as a resource for upward mobility and access. Our seed library provides high quality, culturally significant open-pollinated varieties for growers across NYC. We are working towards local production of regionally-adapted seeds that tell the cultural memories and history of NYC residents, past and present. Whenever possible, our efforts include seed rematriation, returning seeds back to their original lands and to their original peoples. Unique to urban seed keeping work is connecting seeds that need to be grown out with growers in the region.
We are all descendants of plant domesticators and seed savers. We are also architects of the future. Together we can participate in a local network of growers coming together to preserve our heirloom seeds and their stories while regionally adapting open-pollinated varieties for a changing climate.
Seedshed is supporting Reclaim Seed NYC through growing out requested seed varieties that will help support the needs and requests that Jacquiline is providing through her organizations programs. Northeast based urban seed initiatives face growing challenges including limited land access, special regionally required seed production infrastructure, and the ability to meet minimum population numbers for plant health for certain species. Through growing requested varieties and returning the seeds to the library, Seedshed helps support access to a larger diversity of seeds to be shared through Reclaim Seed’s programs. This year requested seeds are Resina Calendula, Buttercrunch Bibb Lettuce, and Calico Lima Beans. We’re looking forward to working with Jacqueline on future shared educational programs.