RECLAIM SEED NYC
an urban seed justice initiative rooted in education & community
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 includes 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.
SEED LIBRARY DATES & EVENTS
3/3, 1pm - 3pm
The seed library will be open at the King Manor Museum in Jamaica, Queens.
Seed available for local pickup
Seed available for local pickup
POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19
SEED JUSTICE, CULTURE, AND COMMUNITY TRACK AT THE GREENTHUMB GROWTOGETHER CONFERENCE
Reclaim Seed NYC & Truelove Seeds @seedkeeping are partnering with Greenthumb for a first ever Seed Justice, Culture, and Community Track at the annual Grow Together Conference! Two days of seed stories, swapping, panels, and workshops! Check @greenthumbgrows for details.
Seed available for local pickup
6/6, time TBD
SEED SAVING WORKSHOP
Seed saving workshop at King Manor Museum's annual Traditions Festival. This is a free, family-friendly event.
ADOPT AN HEIRLOOM
The "Adopt an Heirloom" project is a student-driven exploration of place. What are the seed stories of your school community? How can you interpret them through plants? What can this living archive tell us about where we've been and where we are going?
Educators (informal and formal) may request to adopt an heirloom seed variety. They will receive the technical and non-technical skills to preserve the genetics of that variety, becoming stewards of the seed and its story from season to season. For more information, please complete the form below.
“Whoever owns the seed will actually be more and more in control of who eats and at what price.” -Nettie Wiebe
HOW DOES THE SEED LIBRARY WORK?
Community-sustained seed sources require community participation. You may check out up to 6 varieties of seed from the library, returning 2x what you took. For example, if you check out 10 Teddy Bear Sunflower seeds, you will return at least 20 back to the library at the end of the growing season. The seed library is open to all. We will provide you with support around seed to seed growing.
WHAT STANDARDS DO YOU USE TO MAINTAIN THE SEED LIBRARY?
The seed library does not accept hybrid, patented, or GMO seed. Hybrid seed varieties - they do not yield plants that are true to type. Commercial hybrid seeds will either have "hybrid", "F" or "F1" written on the packet. G.M.O seed - currently there are very few genetically engineered varieties available to home gardens but they are patented and are not to be saved. Patented varieties - it is illegal to distribute varieties that are covered under the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act. We respect the hard work of traditional plant breeders.
WHERE DO THE SEEDS IN THE LIBRARY COME FROM?
The seed library began with donations from commercial seed companies such as: Seed Savers Exchange, Hudson Valley Seed Company, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Truelove Seeds, FEDCO Seeds, and Seed and Winnowing Italia. Since then it has grown to include varieties stewarded regionally, donations from individuals, and happy surprises in the mail.
I'M NEW TO GROWING PLANTS. CAN I CHECK OUT SEEDS FROM THE LIBRARY?
Yes! There are flowers (native and non), herb, grain, and vegetable seeds in the library. The seed library serves as a platform for knowledge and skill sharing to fortify community resilience in response to food injustice, preserve biodiversity, and celebrate BIPOC histories in our foodways. Teaching participants how to grow seed to seed, from novice to experienced growers, is at the center of our work.
Six Pillars of Food Sovereignty
Focuses on Food for People: Food sovereignty puts the right to sufficient, healthy, and culturally appropriate food for all at the center of food, agriculture, livestock, and fishery policies. It rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity or component for international agribusiness.
Values Food Providers: Food sovereignty values and supports the contributions and rights of all those who grow, harvest, and process food, including women, peasants and small-scale family farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk, forest dwellers, migrants, indigenous peoples, and workers. It rejects policies, actions, and programs that threaten their livelihoods, undervalue them, or seek to eliminate them.
Localizes Food Systems: Food sovereignty brings food providers and consumers closer together; puts providers and consumers at the center of decision-making; protects providers from the dumping of food and food aid in local markets; protects consumers from poor quality and unhealthy food, inappropriate food aid, and food tainted with genetically modified organisms; and resists policies and practices that depend on and promote unsustainable and inequitable trade, giving power to remote and unaccountable corporations.
Puts Control Locally: Food sovereignty places control over territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock, and fish populations into the hands of local food providers, and asserts their right to use and share these resources in socially and environmentally sustainable ways. Food sovereignty recognizes that local territories often cross geopolitical borders and ensures the rights of local communities to inhabit and use their territories; it promotes positive interaction between geographically diverse food providers to resolve conflict; and it rejects the privatization of natural resources.
Builds Knowledge and Skills: Food sovereignty builds on the skills and local knowledge of food providers that conserve, develop, and manage localized food systems; developing appropriate research and passing on this wisdom to future generations; and rejects technologies that undermine, threaten, or contaminate these sources of knowledge.
Works with Nature: Food sovereignty promotes diverse, low-input, agroecological production, as well as harvesting methods that maximize the contribution of ecosystems and improve resilience and adaptation, especially in the face of climate change. It rejects methods that harm beneficial ecosystem functions, which depend on energy-intensive monocultures and livestock factories, destructive fishing practices, and other industrialized forms of production.
(adapted from the Nyéléni 2007 Forum for Food Sovereignty Synthesis Report)