A few years ago, Fedco began to donate a portion of our seed sales of certain varieties—like Hopi Blue corn and Jacob’s Cattle bean—to Nibezun, a Wabanaki project here in Maine that is working to rematriate Penobscot land and to create dialogue on healing throughout the extended community. Our Indigenous Royalties program is one small way to appreciate and recognize the native breeders and seed keepers of the past whose varieties have endured and continue to sustain us here on Turtle Island.
Last year we extended the program to our Trees catalog by donating royalties from any plant that bears a Native American name. We recognize that Waneta plum, for example, was given a Sioux name by a white person. These plants were likely named without permission. While this practice continues in the nursery trade, it is a not something we embrace. At the same time, we can appreciate a plant as an innocent third party, inherently independent of language and names and holding merit in our landscape.
Long before breeding stations and universities, there were Tree Seed Keepers. Many of our named cultivars likely carry the genetics of the old trees tended long before European arrival. Where you see Indigenous Royalties at the end of our description, you will know we are dedicating 10% of our sales of these plants to Nibezun.