I have had a life long love for stories; having never been satisfied with knowing just what was visible on the surface, but always needing to know the deeper truth of things.

What is the history of the thing? What do the myths about it tell us? What can you understand about it if you simply listen? What is its connection to the rest of the world? What can we re-remember if we ponder it?

These same questions apply to seeds, and the entire plant world around us. Why is this weed so abundant in my lawn? What history did corn witness on its journey with humans? When and how did we come to understand the healing virtues in some plants?

And while some of our more common vegetables may seem mundane, I assure you that they all have a story, and a fascinating one at that.

Author and seed saver, Ira Wallace, shared on a recent podcast[i] talking about heirloom seed varieties,

“There are stories that go along with these varieties; that take you back to a time and place, and help build community with those people that came before you… A good story helps people remember how important a variety was to someone in the past.”

As you plant your seeds, spend some time in discovering what the origin of that particular variety is, and why it is important to know. And beyond the variety – what is that vegetable’s story is as to its origin, and connection to humans?  What part of the world did it originally come from? (You might be really surprised at this.)  Are there communities that hold this plant to be sacred?  How did it get to where it is commonly found now?

If you search for the answers to these and other questions, I promise you that you will never look at these vegetables the same again.  You will pause and think of those stories as you reach out to harvest it.  You will learn to respect its long journey and the tenacity it had to get there.  You will realize how much you hold in your hand when you hold one of its seeds.



Ira Wallace’s Seeds Keep Heirloom Foods Alive,

Herbal Folklore: Nettle by Guido Masé

A Curious History of Vegetables, Wolf D. Storl

[i] “Seedkeeper: Ira Wallace THE EARTH IN HER HANDS Series.” Audio blog post. Cultivating Place. Jennifer Jewell / NSPR, April 18, 2020.