What is a Jewish Seed? Conversations with growers of the hairy melon

Updated: Jun 28

Since 2020, farmers and organizers within the Jewish Farmer Network have increasingly engaged in seed work. We see seed work as collective exploration and documentation of seed keeping and storytelling. With this, a question has consistently been brought up: what is a Jewish seed?

Inspired by seeds cared for by other peoples, we identify stories about the three sisters (corn, squash, and beans) that are tended by some of the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. Also, people of the African diaspora have stewarded and held ancestral stories about the Black rice, Black eyed pea, okra, and other seeds that were carried across the Atlantic on slave ships. There must be something similar for Jewish peoples, right?

Well, it might not be so simple! Seed worker and founder of Hudson Valley Seed Company, K Greene shares that ““when I think about just how splintered our diasporas were, that is part of why we lost touch with our seeds, because the multiple violent uprootings and resulting climatic changes and didn't give people time to figure out what they're taking with them or for the seeds to adapt to new regions.”