Over the course of my week in Philly, I jump in with Owen on a few of his trips around the city to teach people about seed saving and to support farms with the seeds they are saving for Truelove Seeds.
On Tuesday morning we head to the Novick Family Urban Farm in South Philly. The space at NFUF, nestled dramatically under a noisy freeway, is part run by urban farmers as an educational space and part run by members of the local community from Myanmar. Produce is taken by the farmers and sold at a local farm stand. We catch some of it as it’s disappearing off, looking beautiful.
On Wednesday the farmer at one of the Urban Tree Connection sites gets a visit as she’s concerned about blight in the Paul Robeson tomatoes she’s hoping to save seed from. Urban Tree Connection is a non-profit working with marginalised communities in West Philly to build community through ‘growing, gathering and education’. Paul Robeson was a West Philly man who, as well as being an actor and singer, spoke out on racial and social justice issues. Some of these seeds I took home the last time I came to the states. We arrive at UTC in the midst of a torrential downpour, and there’s a hurried inspection of the plants and fruits (both mostly get the all clear) and then we load up the toms to be processed back at the farm.
These trips show me the tiniest glimmer of what is happening on these sites but it deepens my sense of the networks of support that are being created through Truelove Seeds’ distribution model. Owen explains that for many of these projects seed saving comes as secondary to the primary goal of feeding their communities. The hope is that through his support, seed-saving, as well as becoming easier, can provide an additional income to these projects which can support them in all the work they do for social justice within the communities they work. Owen spends time encouraging people to save seeds that are culturally significant for them. So much of this work goes against the grain of mainstream seed distribution.
These networks of solidarity and entrepreneurial support for projects working for social justice is a huge part of the reason I wanted to visit TLSs. Along with the preservation of seeds and stories, this support seems so linked to community and project resilience.