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A Marriage of Art and Science to Address Global Food Insecurity: PlantingSeed Jewelry

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Photo of GrowMore Jewelry
To be clear, Dr. Kate M. Creasey Krainer is not here to help others. The word help, in fact, makes her cringe. Instead, she endeavors to do her job and empower others to use science to grow, thrive and heal. There is no time to waste.
 
Currently, people are starving and suffering from malnutrition, with over 800 million lacking sufficient food to maintain a decent quality of life. The causes are complex and interrelated, ranging from poor farming practices and waste to political instability, corruption and wars to environmental destruction. As our global population grows and climate change increases the impacts of hurricanes, floods and drought, world hunger only promises to rise.
 
It doesn’t have to be this way. As Kate puts it, “We can enable others to grow more, and encourage a dialogue about overcoming food insecurity, climate change and famine.”
 
Kate seems as much an elegant permaculturalist, dedicated to environmental health and sustainability, as she is a highly trained and published plant geneticist. She believes that science is only as good as the integrity of the science communication with those of us who aren’t experts.
 
Committed to improving farming yields and to advancing high quality dialogue on what improving yields really involves, Kate is tired of people being manipulated by narrow interests who are often misinformed themselves. She is concerned about those who are suffering with food insecurity, and troubled by the volumes of toxins pouring into our lands and waters from agriculture. In 2017, she founded Grow More Foundation, bringing people together to make a change.

Kate seems as much an elegant permaculturalist, dedicated to environmental health and sustainability, as she is a highly trained and published plant geneticist. She believes that science is only as good as the integrity of the science communication with those of us who aren’t experts.

Grow More’s mission is to enable scientists and farmers in the developing world, especially women, to address food insecurity and to adapt to our changing climate through the responsible use of science in agriculture. They aim to promote transparency regarding bioengineering in agriculture, raise awareness, and provide education and resources enabling those in the developing world to harness the full potential of agricultural research for the betterment of their communities.

One key component of Grow More’s Awareness program is an elegant means of increasing crop yield as well as spreading awareness of the issues growers face. It’s a marriage of art and science resulting in beautiful, ingenious jewelry that serves both farmers and those who would speak for them.

Enter the Artist

Photo of Dr. Kate Creasey-Krainer and Kate Sydney
Dr. Kate M. Creasey Krainer and Kate Sydney

Long Island artisan and founder of The Firefly Artists, Kate Sydney, recalls how she came to be involved in PlantingSeed. “Dr. Kate reached out to me by email from somewhere in the world! At first it seemed far reaching to imagine our lives of plant science and silver-smithing working together. She told me she needed a jeweler – preferably a woman-founded small business owner on Long Island, who could craft wearable tools that could enable indigenous women to grow more food and promote businesses of their own! I was inspired by her enthusiasm and her knowledge and valued the tremendous opportunity to create as well as to serve people.”

PlantingSeed jewelry became possible with the skilled collaboration of Long Island jewelry-smith Kate Sydney and measurements provided by Grow More’s many prominent scientists and growers. The design of each piece incorporates mathematical dimensions, calculated through scientific research, for the ideal depth and spacing of seed planting, helping growers to grow more in the space available.

In the developing world, women are the often-overlooked core of the agricultural workforce. The impacts of our changing world on agriculture will have massive consequences for women’s livelihoods. PlantingSeed designs are a visual guide for maximizing harvests, sharing the latest in agricultural research with those who need it the most.

PlantingSeed Lariat Necklaces

Corn, Creasey Krainer explains, is one of the most common crops in a farmer’s portfolio, grown on every continent except Antarctica. It is not difficult to realize why – corn provides necessary calories for healthy metabolism, is high in fiber and a rich source of vitamin A, B and E, as well as many minerals and antioxidants.

She then shows us Grow More’s PlantingSeed Corn lariat – a beautiful necklace, featuring hand-selected watermelon tourmalines and custom sterling silver bezels. “This can enable growers to maximize their crop yields by providing the optimal space for each seedling to grow. It is that simple.”

Just a few inches can make a huge difference when planting seeds, especially by hand. The length of the necklace shows the ideal planting distance between rows of corn, while the distance between the beads indicates just how far apart to plant seeds to avoid crowding. It’s all about making the most efficient use of space.

Drought Earrings

Drought and climate change considerations are important priorities in agricultural research. The PlantingSeed project aims to share findings from research with the growers who need it most.

“Water is essential and is much of the crisis,” says Creasey Krainer, “In water-hungry places, seeds need to be planted at least twice as deep so that the roots can reach whatever water is available. We’ve designed earrings that not only let women know the precise depth for planting in Ghana, but that also enable philanthropists to explain it.”

Honoring Cultural Histories and Desires for the Future

Whether we’re talking about the semiprecious stones dangling from Kate’s ear that were lovingly handcrafted on Long Island by Kate Sydney, or the “durables” that PlantingSeed designs empower women-owned businesses in sub-Saharan Africa to create, it’s beautiful and deeply practical. The whole idea is elegant and effective.

Creasey Krainer is also mindful that jewelry can carry important cultural significance. She pulls handfuls of traditional necklaces out of her bag, talking briefly about their origin and significance. There are upcycled Ghanaian glass and painted clay beads, Ugandan paper beads, Kenyan batiked bone beads.

With these carefully chosen materials, the “durables” thus become as much works of art as the jewelry intended simply to be worn and talked about. “It’s a wearable tool that reflects both cultural history and desires for the future,” says Creasey, “It helps farmers maximize yields, promotes small business at home and abroad, and also advances the dialogue in the developed world. “

With these carefully chosen materials, the “durables” thus become as much works of art as the jewelry intended simply to be worn and talked about. “It’s a wearable tool that reflects both cultural history and desires for the future,” says Creasey, “It helps farmers maximize yields, promotes small business at home and abroad, and also advances the dialogue in the developed world.”

Building Support

“Our conversations launched a major project,” remembers Sydney, “I somehow found time to craft four sets of earrings and two necklaces in the middle of the holiday season. We sold out instantly. We’ve since made 100 pieces, and I’m working to make more. But really, we need more jewelers to get involved!”
 
Dr. Creasey Krainer reflects on the many who have contributed in one way or another. “We are fortunate to be members of Pro Bono Partnerships, which provide legal services to non-profits in the Tri-State area. They are particularly thankful to Cooley LLP for enabling them to submit their patent application for PlantingSeed jewelry.
 
Creasey Krainer is also deeply grateful for their “PlantingSeed Ambassador,” Dr. Joanne Chory. An internationally renowned HHMI Investigator and Breakthrough Prize Laureate,  Professor Chory is perhaps best known for her research into ways that plant genetics may assist in mitigating Climate Change. She was recently awarded funds through the Audacious Project, a collaborative experiment to put bold ideas for social change into action.. 
 
“Dr. Chory introduced our drought earrings at the 2019 Breakthrough Prize Award ceremony,” says Creasey Krainer, “I’m grateful to say she’s a tremendous advocate for our work.”
 
Creasey Krainer ardently networks with scientists, influencers and passionate people all over the world. She hopes to engage as many women as possible, seeking partners and volunteers from all walks of life and building connections with anyone interested in global food security and sustainability.

Creasey Krainer ardently networks with scientists, influencers and passionate people all over the world. She hopes to engage as many women as possible, seeking partners and volunteers from all walks of life and building connections with anyone interested in global food security and sustainability.

You Can Be a Part of the Solution

One simple way to get involved is to buy a deeply meaningful, beautiful gift, and talk about it! 100% of the proceeds from the sale of PlantingSeed jewelry feed back into making the program 100% sustainable. With each purchase, a similar but more hardwearing piece is given away.

PlantingSeed jewelry offers great conversation pieces that help promote a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by growers all over the world. Proceeds are also used to supply women in impoverished countries with tools to build a business and better feed their families. The jewelry is thus a wearable story and a powerful tool; a thoughtful marriage of art and science that makes the best use of what we’ve learned to serve each other and the planet we share.

PlantingSeed jewelry offers great conversation pieces that help promote a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by growers all over the world. Proceeds are also used to supply women in impoverished countries with tools to build a business and better feed their families. The jewelry is thus a wearable story and a powerful tool; a thoughtful marriage of art and science that makes the best use of what we’ve learned to serve each other and the planet we share.