A Note from Rowen
I am writing from inside our Earthen Seed Kiva, which is a temple for our living seed bank here on the farm…. Rows of carefully placed colorful cobs of corn…Sacred Mohawk Red bread corn that looks like juicy pomegranate gems; blue corn whose kernels are lined up in 8 neat rows of shades of grey, slate and nearly purple; multi-colored Calico corn whose pearlescent seed-coats that catch the light of the eastern morning; shiny spiralling Chapaloté corn cobs that look like they are sculpted of iridescent Tiger’s eye stone. Jars of beans, some speckled and resembling orca whales, others earthy and mimic soft buckskin; all invisibly pulsating with the dynamic life energy that infuses us all.
Each morning I awake, and sit surrounded by this exquisite earth apothecary, and begin my day with deep gratitude for the life that these seeds offer up. Not only do they contribute great sustenance to my body, but the stories they hold speak directly to my heart….They are witnesses to the past; tiny time capsules of life’s rich and layered stories.
I sit here to remind myself that I am but one thread in a glorious tapestry of human hands tending the seed and the soil. Over the last 17 years of learning the art of seedkeeping from the cycles of the plants themselves, I have had the honor and privilege of studying with a beautiful network of mentors and in turn teaching and mentoring hundreds of seed stewards… a diverse community of empowered humans coming to learn how to re-establish relationships with the source of the very foods that nourish us everyday. I love sharing my passion for seeds and stories; how seeds have become a beautiful living bridge between yesterday and tomorrow.
Following this diverse trail of seed and stories, I have come to understand more about myself, my ancestral roots, and have received the blessing to carry and keep dozens of unique heritage seeds in our baskets and bundles for our family to be nourished and to pass along to future generations.
I have come here to deeply listen to what the seeds have to share.
I sit with grain in my hand, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and the story unfurls.
A seed divination; they whisper their stories into the very core of my being.
From the seeds sewn into buckskin linings of garments along the Trail of Tears, to the grandfather squash seeds who awakened after an 800 year long nap to fulfill the duties to sustain the people. The seeds tell the story of our human experience; one of change, adaptation, joy, loss, celebration, transformation and sustenance.
These seeds are the diverse expression of life itself; ever hopeful, renewing, transformative and sustaining.
All these varieties of crops and foods have been carried down on this beautiful linked chain of sustenance that spans time. The seeds are our living breathing relatives, and the story from their animate perspective is so compelling and one that has rarely been shared.
I have been asked to be a vessel for their stories. I am a Mohawk woman, who comes from a long line of people who have tended soil and seeds with reverence and devotion. It is through these relationships with plants and seeds that I am finding my way home to a deeper understanding of the magic of being human.
It is my hope that through our educational offerings that the Seeds of hope come alive in the hearts and minds of people all over this Earth. The message of the seeds is the embodiment of hope and healing, they are saying:
We are still here. We are still vibrant. We are interconnected. We help nourish each other.
As we raise the ancient seeds again, we sing the honored songs that breathe the life into each grain, each seed pulsating the vibration and stories of life that are immemorial.
Let us remember and rejoice that nearly every bite that passes our lips connects back eventually to the generosity of a seed. Food has such a sensory impact on our everyday lives; on people, culture, story, the human experience. I invite you to fall in love all over again with seeds and all they inspire and give us.
I know this much is true; I hear the peaceful rumblings of a new revolution, one where we reclaim the seeds from the hands of corporations, and back into the hands of the people. The seeds and the seed-songs belong to the people of this earth, people of all colors and all traditions. I hope you will join us on our journey to reclaim seed stewardship back into our daily lives. Ultimately it is such a gift to walk this path with my students, and have the honor to share stories, seeds, and witness again and again the transformative and healing nature of working with seeds and our beautiful Mother Earth. The ancestors truly are rejoicing to see a new circle of humans caring deeply for our seed relations to nourish those children beyond a time of our own. The Seed Revolution is alive, thriving and growing.
If you listen to the deep stirrings within the very core of your being you will remember them; the sounds and words will pour out of your lips and hearts like a desert monsoon rain. In time you will know the seeds and the songs that fed the ancestors in both body and spirit, and the sacred will be nourished once again.
In Solidarity with the Seeds,
Director, Sierra Seeds
Rowen White Biography
Rowen White is a Seed Keeper from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and a passionate activist for seed sovereignty. She is the director and founder of Sierra Seeds, an innovative organic seed cooperative focusing on local seed production and education, based in Nevada City, California. She teaches creative seed training immersions around the country within tribal and small farming communities. She weaves stories of seeds, food, culture and sacred Earth stewardship on her blog, Seed Songs.