Slow Food USA Launches Plant a Seed Campaign: Are You In?

Slow Food USA launched the Plant a Seed campaign today, inviting individuals and schools to plant the “Three Sisters” in biodiverse gardens across the country. It ties into the Slow Food theme for 2018—Food for Change—that encourages individuals and communities to make changes in everyday eating habits that will impact the food system as a whole and address climate change.

The Three Sisters are beans, corns, and squash that, when planted together, help one another thrive and survive. Corn provides a tall stalk for the beans to climb. Beans provide nitrogen to the soil for the other plants to use. Squash create a microclimate to keep the soil moist and free of weeds. This indigenous technique of companion planting has been embraced the world over.

Read More: “Three Sisters Gardens: Grow More Food With Less Work”

The specific varieties selected for the campaign are on the Ark of Taste, Slow Food’s library of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction: Stowell’s Evergreen Sweet Corn, the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, and Christmas Lima Bean. These plants each have fresh flavors and a story of near extinction, and Slow Food USA hopes to see at least 1,000 gardens growing a Three Sisters garden with them this season.

“We are especially excited for gardeners of all ages to rally around traditional methods of companion planting,” says Slow Food USA executive director Richard McCarthy. “In each garden, we see an emblem of hope and pragmatic action that adds up to the kind of systemic change we need to make food a significant part of the climate-change conversation.”

In support of its vision for a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it, and good for the planet, Slow Food USA is offering kits containing all three types of seeds. For every kit purchased ($45), Slow Food will send a kit to a school garden in order to help teach kids about climate change and the wonderful new flavors of biodiversity. The kit also contains an 8-foot-long Slow Food bunting flag, a poster, stickers, and plant stakes. 

If you’re ready for your garden to become one of the thousand, you can order a kit at slowfoodusa.org/plant-a-seed.

UPDATE 3/9/18: 

Many of you let us know that, even though you wanted to support the campaign, the $45 kit was a bit too pricey and included gardening paraphernalia that you didn’t want or need.

So we contacted Slow Food to ask about the cost and to see if there was still a way for people to participate if they wanted to purchase just the seeds on their own. Here is their reply:

“The base cost for the materials in the kit is about $23 (the bunting in particular is handmade and not cheap). So the profit goes to sending a free kit to a school garden that couldn’t otherwise afford it. It’s not a money maker for Slow Food….”

They added that people would be very welcome to participate in the campaign without purchasing the kit:

“They could join our Facebook group — that’s where participants are going to share updates of their Three Sisters garden. The group is open to the public, too, though!”

So, if you want to participate by planting the heirloom Three Sisters garden, but don’t want to purchase the kit, we encourage you to head over to the Plant a Seed Facebook group and join today: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SFplantaseed/about/

And THANK YOU for supporting Slow Food USA’s important work!

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This post was written by The Grow Network


  • Brian says:

    I’d love to plant these seeds… But I don’t want a bunch of disposable crap and hair products. I just want some seeds, and I’m not willing to pay $45 for 3 packs of heirlooms seeds. Sure they’ll send a kit to a school, with more landfill crap that is not necessary to grow three packs of seeds.

  • Leslie E Bauer says:

    Brian, you got that comment spot on! As I have been a Slow Food member since 2002, and in 4 different states, and having met one board member- no longer there, and a past president -nice guy and have no idea why he left, I can honestly say that I have observed exactly what I think your sentiment is implying; why is it that once an organization becomes ‘hip, has a following, and moves to larger offices in Brooklyn’, do they have to have printed STUFF to promote themselves? It then, somehow, takes away from the message-plant some seeds. Well, the truth somehow is buried in the reality: they have staff, phone bills, correspondence to pay for, etc. Sigh, THIS BOTHERS ME TOO. If the seeds were $10, which would be reasonably priced, a whole lot more people would go for it. So, while I can be cynical about all that other stuff, and believe me, I can be cynical, if more people actually PLANTED SEEDS, we’d all be better off. Somehow folks seem to need alignment with a ‘cool group, organization, etc to feel validated. Sounds like you know how to BE free of that; i applaud you for pointing out the hypocritical nature of many of the do-gooders. I have actually thought of dropping my membership after all these years because of EXACTLY this obviously contradictory energy. I stay, alas, because the feelings that override my cynical judgement are one of hope for the future. Plain and simple. But, I will be planting seeds that I purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom and taking the extra to my LOCAL seed swap and finding out what is going on in my own community. Yes, a do-gooder, and sounds like you are too.

    1. Susan Mercurio says:

      Yes, I think $45 is way too much to ask for 3 packets of seeds. And think about this: 50% of the population of the United States lives at or below the poverty line, like me. I can’t afford those kinds of prices. I’ll plant my heirloom seeds, but they will have to do.

  • Debbie says:

    I am all in favor of saving heirloom varieties, and will choose heirlooms over hybrids for my own garden, whenever they are available. I also like to support school gardens, and gave some of my extra starts to a school garden last year, and would certainly do so again. However, I have no use for the promotional materials or hair product samples included in the kit, and would not pay $45.00 for what I assume to be three standard-sized packets of seeds that I can buy elsewhere for $7.00. So my garden will not be one of a thousand, but will have to remain one of a kind.

  • Deb says:

    We could do a lot more for $45 than plant 3 packs of older varieties of seeds that are commonly available and inexpensive (check the internet)

  • Barbara says:

    I agree with the above. But, I also would like to know, how do you know WHERE these seeds will do well? I have a son in southern Arizona wanting to grow a garden but no idea if these would survive. I will do my own homework and find my own affordable seeds. Thanks for the idea anyway!!

  • Gregory Thomson says:

    I came to this post interested as well, but am feeling a bit like the others commenting. $45 for 3 packs of seeds and other things I don’t need? If it was more like $20 for 3 packs of seeds, and I could choose the varieties of each, and then a school garden would get the same, without all the extra stuff, but rather good info/educational materials on it all, then it could make sense for me. I’ve tried three sisters twice, but limited success as I learn new things each year on it. First year, corn did amazing, but I started it inside in an Aerogarden. Squash and beans didn’t do so well. Second year, I started all outside instead – corn success was very limited, squash was great, but then realized bush squash wasn’t the one to use. Bean sprouts got eaten by the rolly-pollies – http://www.gthomson.us/projects/landscaping/2016/corn-squash-july.jpg. This year, will start the corn inside again, will try three types of vining squash/pumpkins, and may leave it at that for this year, then add in beans next year if this year goes good. Will probably just try four types of beans on a separate trellis this year to learn better their growth patterns before including in with the other two sisters. But I’m rambling now… love the idea that led me to this page, but the implementation of it leaves a bit to be desired. Samples of hair products and flags and banners? Really? Isn’t this more about lessening the consumption of these types of things?

  • Kai says:

    Yes, I would also like to grow these old seeds BUT It looks like a big CON to me.

  • James L. says:

    Way to EXPENSIVE, for me! Since I’am bald, hair care Is waste of money. Why the flags and stuff? Drop the price to about $10.00, forget the add on’s and maybe you will sell some packs. I’ll go to Baker’s, good prices. Great customer service.

  • VeggieWrangler says:

    Disheartened by the $45 price and loads of non-seed stuff they send. Way out of my budget.

    I will make sure to plant rare and endangered seeds among the hundreds of heirloom varieties that I grow every year. I’ll even look for the varieties listed above and grow as a three-sisters guild.

    My extras are donated to schools, the food bank, and local low-income hosing development that has a community garden. My excess produce also goes to the food bank and a pay-what-you-can cafe that serves locally sourced food to the disadvantaged.

    Too many opportunities to do good for our local communities that don’t come with a steep price tag.

  • Sue says:

    It sounds good in theory where you purchase the kit and
    the school gets one as well. However there are
    important items missing in this kit that should be
    included like beginning seed pots and perhaps fertilizer
    to get started with. The stickers although nice are unnecessary but the markers labeling the plants are an
    okay touch. I don’t see the point of hair care products in
    this all. Heirloom seeds of quality are usually more expensive than regular seeds. Is this price inclusive of shipping?

  • Bob L. says:

    I feel just like the rest of you. The seeds are way over priced and I will not agree to spread lies about climate change to hapless kids. These are lies of the worst kind. Yeah some of you will call me a quack, crack pot or worse. Well before you do ya better check out 15 U.S.C. section 9a. Then tell me otherwise. Hidden within the commerce section of the United States Code is some very interesting stuff. It will be interesting to see if this post even makes to the site.

    1. Debbie says:

      It is refreshing to occasionally hear the voice of reason. I am with you regarding the claim of man-made climate change that we can somehow turn around. The so-called experts love to demonize carbon dioxide, which we learned in grammar school is a natural part of our atmosphere and necessary for plant growth. I could go on for a long time on this topic, but I only hope that more people wake up to reality of what is happening before we end up destroying this planet with our misguided efforts to save it.

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