THE UPLIFTING OF UJAAMA, BONNETTA ADEEB & NATHAN KLEINMAN
Now more than halfway from the winter solstice to the spring equinox, many of us have seeds of spring and summer foods on our minds (and hearts).
So, this week we continue our celebration of Black History Month, and love stories, centered on the cooperative, and communal concept of Ujaama, in conversation with Bonnetta Adeeb of Ujaama Seeds, and the Ujaama Cooperative Farming Alliance, and Nathan Kleinman of the Experimental Farm Network, a member and collaborator in the Ujaama alliance and all that it is growing – which is both uplifting and delicious.
Bonnetta Adeeb is a career-long educator focused on food, applied economics for the benefit of community, and restoring ancestral foods to their people She is the president and founder of STEAM onward, a non-profit working to bring more underserved youth into science, technology, and agricultural fields.
Nathan Kleinman is a cofounder of the Experimental Farm Network, which "works to facilitate collaborative plant breeding and sustainable agriculture research in order to fight global climate change, preserve the natural environment, and ensure food security for humanity into the distant future. We believe participatory plant breeding on a massive scale can lead to breakthroughs to help us not only adapt to climate change, but one day actually stabilize the climate. Founded in 2013, EFN is composed of professional and amateur farmers, gardeners, plant breeders, and researchers. The network's main organizing tool — this open-source website — is free to use and open to all. The work of revolutionizing our food system to save our planet is generational in scope: it will take generations to undo the damage already done. Let's get growing!
EFN is administered by a Philadelphia-based 501(c)(3) non-profit cooperative committed to social, racial, and economic justice, and dedicated to practicing organic agriculture along agroecological principles. Our Mission: To accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture by facilitating unprecedented collaboration on research and the free sharing of resources.
Photos Courtesy of Ujaama Cooperative Farming Alliance, all rights reserved. Photos of groups credits to Bonnetta Adeeb; photos of Nathan and Sunflower, Barron Bixler.
You can follow Bonnetta's work at Ujaama online at: https://ujamaaseeds.com/ and https://ujamaafarms.com/; and on Instagram @ujamaafarms/
You can follow Nathan and the Experimental Farm Network online at: https://www.experimentalfarmnetwork.org/ and on Instagram at: @experimentalfarmnetwork/
Follow the HEIRLOOM COLLARD PROJECT ON LINE HERE: https://heirloomcollards.org/
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JOIN US again next week, week we continue our celebration of Valentine’s Day, and African American Heritage Month, and the growing season in conversation with Bonnetta Adeeb of Ujaama seeds, and Nathan Kleinman of the Experimental Farm network. They are growers, breeders, activists, and inspiring souls. Listen in.
Cultivating Place is made possible in part by The Catto Shaw Foundation, supporting initiatives that empower women and help preserve the planet through the intersection of environmental advocacy, social justice, and creativity.
Speaking of Plants and Place.....
Speaking of Plants and Place this week, we focus on one of the many seeds the Ujaama collective, Bonnetta and Nate are involved in: The Heirloom Collard Project and Collards themselves. The Project is working for the "recognition and respect of collards as a key component of American food culture so their seeds and stories will never be forgotten."
The heirloom collard project is comprised of a “COLLABORATION OF COLLARD LOVING PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS – A CROCK POT OF SORTS, WHERE THE INGREDIENTS ARE EACH RESPECTED, BUT THE TRUE MAGIC IS IN THE POT LIKKER.”
According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica: "collards are botanically Brassica oleracea, variety acephala), and their common names include name colewort. They are a form of cabbage, in the mustard family Brassicaceae. They are an excellent source of nutritionally important minerals and vitamins A and C. "
According to HCP: "Collards share a botanical name with kale. Collards are usually grown as annuals, but are in fact biennials that, like most brassicas, produce yellow four-petaled flowers, for collards these loose clusters appear in their second year, which then become dry capsuled siliques filled with the seed you can save. Like other mustard family plants – collards are susceptible to cabbage looper moths and their larva, as well as aphids. In cultivation, you can harvest the lower, outer leaves on the plant progressively to extend the season of your plant, as well as to hold it over to its seed-bearing second season.
The Heirloom Collard Project coalesced in 2016 around 60 varieties of collard seed jointly requested from the USDA by Seed Savers Exchange, in collaboration with Ira Wallace at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The seed of these rare heirloom collard varieties, most of which had been collected by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan from seed savers across the Southeast, mostly in North and South Carolina, were then trialed at the Seed Savers Exchange farm in Iowa. The goal was to regenerate this seed and share it with seed savers across the country."
The Heirloom Collard Project organizes the collards the collaborative is stewarding into general groups based on their morphology, or how they look: including, heading collards, cabbage collards, glazed collards, tree collards, curly leaf collards, and colored collards.
The fact that many of the varieties bear the names of the people from whom the seed was collected, or the place where the seed had been stewarded—such as Tabitha Dykes, Buddy Brickhouse, Lydia Gibbs, Drusilla Delone, Louisiana Sweet—speaking eloquently to the long-term loving relationship that is people, in their places, with their plants, selecting each other over years, miles, generations.
Thinking out loud this week:
Ok – well – this episode is making me hungry. And happy – how about you?
Some of you may have noticed I have been very quiet on social media recently – and while I think I have mentioned this in passing before, I am excited to share that I have just passed off the copy edited manuscript of my next book to the publisher.
Three years almost exactly in the writing, and a lifetime in the germinating – this is a book of my heart. Titled What We Sow – on the personal, ecological, and cultural significance of seeds, it is in fact something of a love letter itself to seed – and in large part to the seedkeepers of our world, it is set to be out in late September of this year.
I'm tired from the final stretch of the work that bringing a book into this world is, but I am also content. You will hear more as I know more and see more during this final phase of the germination.
And of course, I will be sharing much more about it at some of my upcoming talks – including a joint talk for the Master Gardeners of Nevada County and the California Native Plant Society’s Redbud chapter on March 11th, and in Minnesota for the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s annual Art in Bloom on April 27th.
You can always check out the details for my upcoming events at Cultivating place.com/events.
It’s going to be a good growing year gardener friends – happy to be together in it.
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