Lenape Seeds at Object Migration, Proteus Gowanus

Proteus Gowanus asked their community of friends and collaborators and all others to contribute objects with migratory stories for this show. With over 50 contributors, objects on display range from a 50 million year old “dinosaur fart” (or gas bubble) to a collection of wild bird’s stomach contents collected in the early 20th C for “scientific” purposes. There are also talismans, mundane objects with secret meanings, things of beauty and much more. I contributed these two ears of Lenape Corn from the Maize Field Project. This Lenape blue flour corn,  know as Sehsapsing, is a seed variety whose migration can be traced from the Lenape territories of the New Jersey Area, to Oaklahoma, Ohio, and back to Brooklyn.


On May 28th 2011 Husk planted seeds of broomcorn along the Gowanus Canal at the end of 2nd Ave and 5th Street.

A forgotten crop, a lost industry:
Broomcorn is a type of Sorghum that was once commonly used to make brooms. In fact Brooklyn was once home to something of a broom making industry. With the introduction of synthetic materials broomcorn cultivation declined and the broom making industry left Brooklyn. We will revisit and reimagine this industrial/ agricultural history through the cultivation of this forgotten crop and through the production of brooms from our harvested crop.

The site:
The broomcorn garden is next to “the Salt lot” along the Gowanus Canal. This area has been planted with trees and

perennials by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a steward for the preservation, restoration and green development of the Gowanus Canal. The Gowanus Canal Conservancy has let us create a terraced garden in the area to grow the broomcorn.

The broom of the system:
The Gowanus canal is currently designated a US Superfund clean-up site. The Salt Lot is a property belonging to the Department of Sanitation. Our terraced garden is located in an area where, in heavy rainfall, sewage is discharged into the canal. How sanitary is that? With the planting of broomcorn and production of brooms made from the site we will also draw attention to the proposed clean up of the environmentally degraded area. We hope our crop will help tidy up this soiled landscape.

To view photos and the progress of the project visit our blog

Preserving Lenape Seeds

We are currently planting and sharing Lenape Blue Flour corn (Sehsapsing) seeds that we saved from last year’s Canarsie Maize Field garden in Canarsie Brooklyn.

We want to see this beautiful variety of corn continue to grow in Brooklyn. This spring we donated seed to the Lefferts House in Prospect Park where they are now growing it in their Three Sisters Garden.

Last year we grew a small crop of this variety in a small garden in the back of P.S. 115. This site was chosen because it is in an area that was known as the Canarsee Indian planting grounds in the 17th century. The Canarsee Indians were one of the Algonquian-speaking groups called the Lenape who were the original inhabitants of the New York area.