WITH THE PLANT A SEED CAMPAIGN, WE CELEBRATE BIODIVERSITY ON FARMS, IN GARDENS AND AT SCHOOLs.
With the Plant A Seed campaign, Slow Food USA invites growers to engage with climate and nutrition in our gardens and on our plates. In 2023, the kit brings together a cast of rare and biodiverse seeds that tell a story — and celebrate glorious greens!
This year’s kit and supplemental events and materials highlight the big groups of greens — brassicas, mustards, lettuces, chicories and amaranths — and the communities who celebrate them. The seven beautiful, easy to grow, and highly nutritious greens varieties in the kit feature many from our catalog of distinctive and delicious foods, the Ark of Taste.
The 2023 Plant A Seed campaign will inspire you to nourish your connections to your food and community as well as connect you to this land’s diverse foodways.
MEET YOUR GREENS
Click on each green below to learn more!
NEW MEXICO AMARANTH
YU CHOY SUM
CHICORY AND COLLARD WEEKS
OUR GOALS FOR THIS YEAR'S CAMPAIGN
Ultimately, we aim to bring awareness of how simple acts of growing culturally significant crops in our gardens can impact our climate and nutrition while we learn from the communities who are stewarding them.
PRESERVE BIOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Introduce 400 individual gardeners and 400 school and community gardens to new varieties of greens.
Connect biodiversity to climate resiliency — all of the varieties in the kit will grow in a variety of conditions.
Highlight the nutritional benefits of greens and how having them in your gardens contribute to human and plant health.
Uplift BIPOC growers, seed companies and stories.
EDUCATE, INSPIRE AND MOBILIZE PEOPLE
Provide educational materials, toolkits and online events to inspire deeper connection with greens and their role in climate and nutrition.
Engage Slow Food chapters to activate the campaign in their local communities through Collard and Chicory Week events.
Mobilize the larger Slow Food network to align around the themes of climate, health and biological and cultural diversity through these greens.
INFLUENCE POLICIES IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS
Introduce key policy makers to how they can make change for the climate through biodiversity and adaptable crops.
Leverage greens as a key nutritional aspect of health in discussions around childhood nutrition.
Promote Meatless Mondays and a variety of greens and beans to buyers at key institutions, recommending greens and beans as a delicious and healthy substitute for industrial meat.
About artist ALEXANDRA ANTOINE
Alexandra Antoine is an interdisciplinary visual artist and cultural apprentice based in Chicago, IL. Her work acknowledges the influences of her Haitian culture and love of portraiture, food, farming and traditional artistic practices of the African diaspora. She honors the different forms and functions of her work in the process of her vision coming into fruition. She received her BFA in Fine Arts and Arts Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
“My inspiration for this year’s Plant a Seed campaign came from my love of printmaking and collage. I’ve also grown some varieties of greens in my own garden and I love seeing and tasting how they are used in culinary dishes around the world. I enjoyed playing around with the different shades of greens, yellows and reds in the different crops and the linear patterns throughout them.”
Producer: Working Food
This heirloom variety has been stewarded and preserved by members of the Feaster family of rural Shiloh, Florida since the Civil War. The leaves of this incredible mustard green are broad, pale-green and smooth in texture — they can get quite large, some leaves reaching 2 feet tall. This mustard is distinctive in that it is milder than most mustard greens, with a spicy bit that sweetens when cooked. The distinctive mid-ribs are large, juicy and crunchy. It grows happily in many growing zones and is a self-sower when left to go to seed, generously returning year after year all over the garden.
Producer: Small House Seeds
Hanson lettuce, a variety of Curled India lettuce, was imported into Maryland in 1800 and from there it was improved by the Hanson family. In 1870 George Hanson conveyed the lettuce seed to the Henry Dreer Seed Company of Philadelphia, which made it a nationally significant variety. Here is how George Hanson described the lettuce himself: “this lettuce is superior in every respect to any lettuce I ever saw, for these reasons: the heads are the largest, a single one is frequently large enough for an ordinary sized family; the leaves are exceedingly crisp and tender, and (if cut early in the morning) seem to break like pipe stems; the color is of the most beautiful green without, and white within, and is entirely free from that peculiar grassy taste found in some varieties.”
The quality of the Hanson Lettuce drove the salad revolution of the last decades of the 19th century, it was a major market lettuce grown in the United States. Its tender qualities make it an ideal candidate for the home garden for early season and late season growing. This special lettuce has stayed almost exclusively in the hands of seed savers and home gardeners for over a century.
This seed comes to us from Small House Farm, a homesteading family farm in Central Michigan with a robust catalog of heirloom seeds and educational materials.
Producer: Uprising Seeds
Escarole is a beautiful fluffy head of delicious and slightly bitter leaves. For this reason, it is often the chicory that piques more interest in exploring the chicory family. It has a varied early history, noted in the early histories of Rome, Greece and Egypt and for good reason, it is delicious, hearty, grows well in many zones and lends itself to raw salads just as well to cooking in soups and sautes. The leaves are tender and the flavor is very distinctive, even slightly nutty, and very mildly bitter. This variety has bright yellow cores, full heads and resists bolting in hot summer sowings.
This seed comes to us from the Gusto Italiano Project of Uprising Seeds, Smarties.Bio and the Culinary Breeding Network, which strives to bring the Italian tradition of chicory crops to North America and to establish chicories as an anchor of the fall and winter produce season, celebrating access to adaptable heirloom varieties.
New Mexico Amaranth
Producer: Hudson Valley Seed Company
This beautiful and unique bi-colored grain amaranth has upright, pale green flower heads streaked with pink markings. All amaranths can be grown both for its young leaves as well as its plentiful delicious seeds. The New Mexico Amaranth is no different, but this one is also a great candidate for edible landscaping anywhere as it is a beautiful and resilient plant. New Mexico Amaranth was Introduced by Native Seeds Search, and was collected originally from a dooryard garden in New Mexico but was found to grow very well in any climate.
This seed comes to us from Hudson Valley Seed Company, a trusted source for heirloom and open-pollinated garden seeds. This amaranth seed has adapted to Northern and Southern climates.
Producer: Fedco Seeds
Sea Kale is a unique perennial brassica garden plant with origins along the Atlantic Coast of the British Isles and Northern Europe. This crop has become naturalized in the Northwest and Northeast regions of the United States. Sea kale thrives in both seaside and landlocked settings, preferring marginalized soils, making it a great candidate for urban gardens. It does best in growing zones 4-8, however it seems readily adaptable as it perennializes in gardens. The plant withstands wind, salt spray, salt and cold temperatures rooting in stony/sandy soil. Sea Kale is not only valued for its beneficial contribution to the surrounding ecosystem but is edible from flower to root for nutrient rich culinary preparations.
This Ark of Taste variety comes to us from Fedco Seeds in Maine, a cooperative seed company specializing in hardy heirloom and organic cultivars that will readily adapt regionally.
Producer: Ujamaa Seeds
Collards, also known as collard greens, are part of the cabbage family, and have a variety of leaf shapes, colors and textures.
These Ultracross Collards are the result of a national heirloom collard trial spearheaded by the Utopian Seed Project. The intention is that these seeds can be planted and enjoyed by a wide range of people — a great option for the home gardener with limited space who really wants the chance to have every seed you plant produce something different.
From our friends at the Utopian Seed Project: “This mix represents a great chance to plant out a large quantity of different genetics and save seeds from the survivors. Where each and every one of you take this collard population is only limited by your imagination and we encourage you to select and save seeds based on your own needs and wants.”
The Ark of Taste variety Yellow Cabbage Collard is one of the 21 varieties in this special mix of seeds! Also known as the Carolina Cabbage Collard, the plant differs from other landrace coleworts as it has thinner leaves, with finer veining and more of a yellow tone to its shade of green. Learn more here.
These seeds come to us from Ujamaa Seeds, the fundraising project of the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance, who are committed to providing increased opportunities and support for growers from historically marginalized communities while making culturally relevant seeds available to their communities of origin. The Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance is working to bridge the gap between prospective growers and seed companies.
Yu Choy Sum
Experimental Seed Network
Brassica rapa var. parachinesis
Yu Choy Sum represents an essential pillar of the wide family of Asian greens. This amazing green can be eaten from its juicy stems to its delicious flowers. It grows well in all climates, and has been called the warm season Chinese broccoli. It can be harvested at any stage of its growth, this flowering brassica is a fast growing green that can be harvested as Yu Choy (stem and leaf) or Yu Choy Sum (stem, leaf and flower buds). Can be planted in late spring, summer, or early fall. The taste of choy sum is much sweeter and more tender, with a texture closer to bok choy.
This seed comes to us from the Experimental Farming Network, a non-profit organization committed to regenerative agriculture and justice for all people. Their team of small growers and dedicated volunteers produce unique and high quality seeds without exploiting the planet or its inhabitants.
MEET OUR SEED SUPPORTERS
Every year, the Plant A Seed campaign strives to support small seed companies who represent a diverse community of seed enthusiasts committed to celebrating heirloom, open-pollinated, non-GMO, Ark of Taste, resilient and adaptable varieties. The seed suppliers we use collaborate with like-minded groups and organizations in an effort to provide seeds that are culturally relevant and also emphasize the need for open-pollinated biodiversity as we face the realities of climate uncertainty. The seed suppliers we highlight with this campaign recognize the unique qualities and foodways embodied in the seeds they offer and are committed to sharing these seed stories.