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Ep. 28: Zee Lilani, Kula Nursery, and South Asian plants in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ep. 28: Zee Lilani, Kula Nursery, and South Asian plants in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This episode features an interview with Zee Lilani at Kula Nursery in West Oakland, California in January 2024. Zee grows Doodhi (Lauki/Bottle Gourd) and Kalonji (Black Seed/Nigella) seeds for our Truelove Seeds catalog as well as many varieties for Second Generation Seeds at her farm in Petaluma, California.

In this episode, we hear how Zee left her work as a hydrologist, became a farmer, worked in food sovereignty and food security supporting other farmers, and then started her own nursery business focused on South Asian plants during the pandemic. During the partition of India, her family was displaced from the city of Surat, in the state of Gujarat, in India to Pakistan. Her work with plants familiar to her mother and grandmother bring Surat back to life many decades later, far from home.   

In her words: 

'Kula Nursery is a grassroots urban nursery working within and for BIPOC communities to increase food sovereignty through gardening education and culturally relevant plant starts. The mission at Kula Nursery is to reconnect the diaspora with heritage food, strengthen food sovereignty among these communities, and promote cultural and biological diversity. As a heritage nursery, we believe the act of growing, tending to, and eating heritage foods encourages folks to reclaim their power within the local food system while simultaneously honoring and reconnecting to their ancestors, immediate family and community at large.'

Basically, this interview is right up our alley at Seeds and their People, focused on how plants connect us to our people, power, place, ancestors, and community. 



  • Cuban Oregano, Indian Mint, Patta Ajwain, Coleus amboinicus

  • Curry Tree, Murraya koenigii

  • Night Blooming Jasmine, Raat Ki Rani, Queen of the Night, Cestrum nocturnum

  • Mogra, Arabian Jasmine, Belle of India, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Jasminum sambac

  • Henna, Lawsonia inermis

  • Amla, Indian Gooseberry, Emblica officinalis

  • Sugarcane, Saccharum spp.

  • Taro, Colocasia esculenta

  • Bindhi, Okra, Abelmoschus esculentus

  • Doodhi/Lauki, Bottle Gourd, Lagenaria siceraria

  • Kalonji, Black Seed, Nigella, "Onion Seed", Nigella sativa

  • Krishna Tulsi, Ocicimum tenuiflorum

  • Desi Girl Tomato, Solanum lycopersicum

  • Lal Mirch Indian Pepper, Capsicum annuum

  • Baingan Indian Eggplant, Solanum melongena

  • Surti Papdi and Valor Papdi, Lablab purpureus



Seeds And Their People is a radio show where we feature seed stories told by the people who truly love them. Hosted by Owen Taylor of Truelove Seeds and Chris Bolden-Newsome of Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden.




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Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden



  • Zee Lilani
  • Nital Vadalia-Kakadia
  • Ruth Kaaserer
  • Emilio Sweet-Coll

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