The Next Epoch Seed Library exists as a fluid, crowd-sourced collection of seeds and as a series of physical installations. We have a semi-permanent branch at the NATURE Lab in North Troy, New York, where we host open hours from 4-6 pm on select Tuesdays and by appointment. A pop up library is also on view this spring as part of Perennials at Montgomery College in Tacoma Park, Maryland.
The Next Epoch Seed Library (NESL) re-imagines the conventional seed bank for a new epoch defined by massive human impact on the global environment. Rather than focusing exclusively on human utility or agricultural heritage, we champion the contributions of weedy plant species most likely to survive and thrive in an unpredictable future. You can support our work by becoming a member.
Stocked with seeds gathered from the vacant lots, street verges, superfund sites and abandoned infrastructure, the seed library provides a gene pool of tough, highly adaptable plants well-suited to live in close quarters with humans and their attendant landscape transformations.
Offering services like soil stabilization, moisture retention, heat island reversal, toxic bio-accumulation and medicinal and nutritional attributes, these plants are the ideal pioneer species, prepared to heal the wounds inflicted by a changing climate unsustainable resource extraction. Spontaneous urban plant communities will form the base of new, novel ecosystems as we move through the bottleneck of the sixth mass extinction. Dedicated to overcoming plant-blindness in contemporary urban life, NESL believes that reciprocal networks of plants and people can provide a solid foundation for building ecologically just communities.
Thank you for your interest in contributing to the Next Epoch Seed Library! NESL is an artist run project that encourages public participation. We think seed gathering is an enjoyable activity that encourages contact between humans and the plant species that form the basis of our urban ecosystems. Please read the guidelines below and get in touch with any questions. We’d be happy to list you on our website as a contributing member of NESL.
NESL is primarily interested in plant species that live in close association with humans, but that have not been planted or maintained purposefully; in short, weeds! Growing where others can’t or won’t, the plants held in our seed bank are those best adapted to live in the long shadow we throw on the landscape. They are companion plants for the Anthropocene age.
Videos documenting our process and the plants we work with
Open Access Curriculum for leading your own seed-oriented activities
Projects that bring the seed library to life through pop-up seed exchanges, walks, seed burial, & other experiments:
Above: Documentary short by Candace Thompson
Above: NESL: Habitats, Collecting, Processing, 2016 (self-produced video with contributions from Milcah Bassel, 1067 PacificPeople, Owen Levelle, Dan Phiffer)
The Next Epoch Seed Library is in the process of developing curricular resources aimed at a range of learners who want to find ways to engage more deeply with plants and urban ecology.
We’re starting with a series of experiential exercises involving movement, language, and storytelling, which you can download below (Activities 1-3). Look for more resources coming soon, including guides to working with seeds and plants in the classroom. All materials are licensed Non-Commercial/Attribution/ShareAlike, which means you are free to alter, reproduce and share them as long as you provide credit to us as the original source and make them freely accessible yourself. Comments or feedback? Get in touch!