Apr 5, 2022 - News

Sistah Seeds, a new Black heirloom seed farm, set to launch

Amirah Mitchell working at Truelove Seeds in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of Owen Taylor/Truelove Seeds

Amirah Mitchell recently packed up her belongings and moved an hour outside of Philadelphia to start a farm business focusing on vegetable seeds important to the African diaspora.

What's happening: The Philly-based farmer has found land to launch her small seed production farm, Sistah Seeds. She's leasing at an incubator space in Emmaus, called The Seed Farm.

  • "My general feeling right now is impatience to get on the land and just start doing the work," Mitchell tells Axios.

Why it matters: Black people account for 1.4% of the country's 3.4 million agriculture producers, according to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, the latest data available.

Catch up fast: Mitchell launched a GoFundMe around six months ago to start her farm, which will also double as an educational site.

  • She exceeded her goal, raising more than $33,000 so that she can devote her energy to her first growing season full time.

Fast forward: Mitchell is now doing just that. She's also leading workshops on how to grow and save seed crops.

What she's saying: "The past few months have mostly been a blur," she tells Axios. "There's definitely been times this season so far when I felt nervous about starting my own projects, but ultimately, I'm confident in my ability to do this work."

Mitchell says she's grateful for the emotional and financial support that has allowed her to make her vision a reality.

  • She says other farmers and neighbors have shown generosity, from offering labor sharing or land to use.

What's ahead: Mitchell wants to stay on the incubator farm for five years before eventually transitioning to her own land.

  • The goal is to one day move to a southern state closer to her grandparents, where a lot of her seeds will thrive more easily.

But for now, she's focused on growing seed crops, like okra, black-eyed peas and collard greens, in Emmaus.

  • Mitchell expects to have seeds ready to sell by January.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.

More Philadelphia stories