Seed Saving

Dream of Wild Health began in 1998 as a way of connecting Native people with indigenous foods and medicines. In March 2000, a letter came from Cora Baker, a Potawatomi elder and Keeper of the Seeds, who was living near the Wisconsin Dells. She had gardened for many years, hanging her corn to dry on the side of the barn. People passing by on the road saw her garden and began giving her their seeds to save. Five months before she passed on, Cora wrote:

 “I had prayed and prayed that someone would take this gardening up again. I am very pleased to learn about your project. I feel that the Great Creator has answered my humble prayers. With the help of my great granddaughter and grandson, we set out to help you. I wish that some day the children will come to realize the importance of the garden.”

With help from her great-granddaughter, Cora sent many different varieties of corn, beans, and squash, plus several sunflower varieties, indigenous tobacco, and different plant medicines to Dream of Wild Health.

Once the word spread about Dream of Wild Health, seeds began arriving in the mail. Some came knotted up in a handkerchief, with a note saying, “My grandmother wanted you to have these.” Another family donated Cherokee corn seeds that were carried on the original Trail of Tears.

As of today, we have more than 300 different varieties of saved seeds in our collection, a priceless legacy from our ancestors. Each year, with help from the University of Minnesota, we grow out a portion of our collection to keep the seeds viable.