Keeping Seeds: Memory, Materiality and Agrobiodiversity Conservation
A good amount of commercially produced grocery store tomatoes are grown in the state of Florida, in agricultural landscapes better known for citrus and sugar, but still just a couple hours from my hometown. They are planted, tended, picked, and processed largely through migrant labor, but before that the work was done by poor Black folks of my mother’s generation, tasked to do monocrop field labor that belied the incredible variety of heirloom, heritage, landrace, and weird fruits and vegetables that one could find across the landscapes of South Florida. There was a unique history there of botanical and cultural exchange between the southern United States, the Caribbean, and beyond. There are stories in these varieties; of struggle, solidarity, lives lived and cherished, that speak to larger arguments about legacies of colonialism, slavery, agricultural and environmental development. But that is not quite what this is about.