“The seeds are our ancestors,” says Diane Wilson, executive director of Dream of Wild Health, a 10-acre organic farm in Hugo, Minnesota. “The seeds have been passed down to us from generations of families who held on to them and knew how important it was to preserve food for the next generation and the one after that and the one after that.”
Dream of Wild Health has more than 300 varieties of indigenous seeds given to the farm by a Potawatomi elder named Cora Baker, who used to farm in Wisconsin and collected them from various families. Shortly before her death, she gifted the seeds to the Minnesota farm operation.
Dream of Wild Health priorities:
- Preserve seeds’ viability. For some varieties, the farm only owns a handful of seeds so it grows out two to three different varieties each year to save for future crops. When there is enough, it shares with families.
- Share seeds. It shares seeds with local families to grow themselves and with other tribes, especially for foods that will grow well in other regions. It would like to see a network established for sharing seeds.
- Improve health. Through its farming operation, youth programs, and seed saving, Dream of Wild Health is trying to return to a more traditional way of eating, focusing on seasonal, healthy foods.
“One of the goals that we have is to really help people return to traditional foods and medicines and a traditional way of relating to the land and plants and food that helps restore the health of our community,” says Wilson. “These seeds, which have the original genetic material in them so they are very nutritional, have our history as well. They are the best way to return to a more traditional way of eating.”