Seed Travels, Semillas es Vida
Seed Travels , Semillas ed Vida explores seed sharing as a metaphor for the means by which agricultural practices serve not only to feed people, but create connections between them. In recent years, the problem of food sovereignty has become a concern of both developing and developed nations. Seed Travels , Semillas ed Vida, uses the movement of the amaranth seed, a once suppressed pre-contact seed to the americas, to question food sovereignty issues, as well as those of labor, migration, and power structures that govern trade policies.
For years during the civil war which ravaged Guatemala from 1960 to 1996, many of the women of the small highlands village of Rabinal lived in fear. When the fighting ended Rabinal and the scrounging communities traditional leadership of their community had been killed and their social ties as a village broken. Almost twenty years after the war’s end, the women of Rabinal have forged a new community and economic future with the help of an almost forgotten resource: the amaranth seed. Nearly eradicated by the Spanish colonizers because of its religious significance, the highly nutritious staple grain that had sustained their ancestors was almost unknown to Rabinal’s Mayan farmers by the end of the war. With little access to capital, the women of Rabinal have managed to spread their knowledge in amaranth cultivation throughout Guatemala and the Americas.
As part of Seed Travels , Semillas ed Vida, farmers in California and New Mexico, (Amaranth was in New Mexico pre-contact), were given amaranth seeds by Qachuu Aloom, seeds descended from the seeds at San Jose Paquel. People are asked for their time, labor, and land to grow the seeds. Seeds were planted at Side Street Projects in Pasadena, California; Milagro Allegro Community Garden in Los Angeles California; a home garden at Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico; and at Amyo Farms Albuquerque, New Mexico. Each Amaranth field became a site for exploring the history, belief systems, and community structures that surround the seed in the postcolonial, globalizing world though collaborative dialogues and co-constructed hands-on workshops lead by local farmers together with members of Qachuu Aloom. The work is enmeshed with questions regarding collective labor and collective action.