Honoring Seeds & Their Stories

Seed swapping has long served as a way to not only gather the seeds you need for the coming season, but more significantly as a way to share and preserve culture. When we share and plant each other’s seeds we honor the food and the grower and bring their stories to life. Even in these days of social distancing, we hope you continue to find ways to honor this age-old tradition. Whether you’re dropping off seeds at your neighbors’ doorstep, organizing a COVID-safe gathering, wrapping up seeds and mailing them to a friend, or participating in an online seed exchange–don’t forget to also share their stories. 

In the spirit of storytelling, read on to hear from seed gatherers and swappers across the nation and world, and get inspired for a new season…

The Native Seed Pod podcast explores and celebrates Native Foodways, Ancestral Seeds, and the Traditional Ecological Knowledge through stories – from planting songs to cultural foodscapes and their significance across our nation and the world. Be sure to listen to the interviews with the poetic Potawatomi botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer and Mohawk Seed Keeper and activist Rowen White.

Seed Stories podcast highlights a unique garden seed variety each episode with interviews, history, seed saving techniques, and more. For a fun listen: learn all about the Arikara Sunflower – the traditional Hidatsa method of making sunflower meal, sunflower seed balls, harvest and isolation techniques.

This article – “Landscapes of Resistance: Crops of the African Diaspora” – from Mother Earth News tells the stories of American farmers reclaiming their roots through ancestral African crops. The article quotes Chris Bolden-Newsome, co-director of Sankofa Community Farm: “When we grow these foods and share these seeds, we ensure that important parts of our culture continue to live on.”

Seed Savers Exchange Blog includes stories of exceptional seed savers and what they’ve grown. Read about one of the original members of the Seed Savers Exchange (formerly True Seed Exchange) and the ‘Lina Sisco Bird Egg’ bean, grown by her family for generations and brought to Missouri by her grandmother in the 1880s.

“Scarcity and Abundance: A reflection on seeds and culture” was written by Carolina Lukac, VCGN’s Garden Education Manager, back in 2015 when she had just moved to the US from Mexico. She remembers her last seed swap in Mexico and reflects on gratitude: “There was an understanding that when you participate in a ‘trueque‘ you make a reciprocal offering in gratitude for what you receive, especially when it came to seeds.”

And as you prepare to swap seeds this winter and start planting this spring, visit one of our favorite resources on the subject: Seed Savers Exchange and their Community Seed Network.

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