Native American Seed Sanctuary
One of the most exciting projects to root at the Farm Hub is the Native American Seed Sanctuary. We are growing Native American varieties of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers for the purpose of providing education, seed saving, and, by extension, helping to preserve the rich agricultural and cultural heritage of the Native American people. Once harvested, the seeds and the food they grow will be repatriated to their home communities to keep these varieties and their stories alive.
This very special project is being conducted at the Farm Hub in partnership with the Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe of northern New York and with the support of Seedshed.
Seeds of Hope
This short documentary tells the story of this collaborative initiative to preserve Native American culture and foodways through seed saving. It is currently screening at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, California (Jan 17, 2019 – Jan 21, 2019) and the NOFA-NY Conference in Saratoga Springs, New York (Jan 18, 2019 – Jan 20, 2019). The Farm Hub wishes to thank Oceans 8 Films for making this film possible.
A True Collaboration
The Native American Seed Sanctuary project is an outgrowth of our existing partnership with Seedshed, a non-profit run by the Hudson Valley Seed Company’s founder, Ken Greene. The opportunity to create a Native American Seed Sanctuary was realized with the Farm Hub’s pledge of land, equipment and, staff, and made possible through Greene’s association with Rowen White, a renowned seed keeper, farmer, educator, and member of Mohawk Akwesasne tribal community. Rowen is currently working on a book about the agricultural and seed legacy of the Haudenosaunee and Mohawk people, telling the story of the revitalization of the traditional foodways and seed culture of the indigenous peoples of this land.
In the Seed Sanctuary’s first growing season, Rowen provided Seedshed with Onondaga sunflower seeds as well as Mohawk Red Bread corn, Canada Crookneck squash, Buffalo Creek Squash, and Iroquois Buckskin Brown beans for a traditional “Three Sisters” planting. We have since expanded our seed stock and are now growing over ten varieties of beans, he:goa calico corn, and we continue to grow Canada Crookneck squash and Onondaga sunflowers.
Seedshed is managing the hand cultivated plots and will be overseeing the harvest and seed saving in collaboration with patterns from Akwesasne and Farm Hub team.
There is no doubt that logistical support and seed saving know-how are key to the success of the crop. But what truly lends meaning and integrity to the project is the participation of members of the Mohawk tribal community. Only with their advisement can we ensure that the sacred nature of these seeds is fully acknowledged and that the plants and seeds are cared for with the utmost respect for their Native American origins.
* Click here for information about the Pilgrim Pipeline and its potential impacts to agricultural lands. As proposed, the pipeline would cross the Esopus Creek at our Seed Sanctuary, continuing into our farm field and alongside the NYS Thruway.
Click here to view more photos in our gallery.
Top of page – banner photo: Members of the Akwesasne community and St. Regis Mohawk tribe together with Farm Hub crew members.