Ellie Irons and Anne Percoco want you to rethink weeds. The artists run the Next Epoch Seed Library, a seed bank stocked with specimens from vacant lots, sidewalks, and superfund sites in the New York City area. The plants tend to get torn out or doused with herbicides—but they also help stabilize soil, suck up carbon, and keep cities cooler as the climate changes.
Wild city plants also help support pollinators like bees in urban areas—which is why the seed library is part of a new exhibit called Nectar: War upon the Bees at Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
“We’re trying to help validate and help people engage with these wild plants that are often called weeds," says Irons. "And to think about them as habitat, think about them as these really valuable parts of green infrastructure . . . that would also be beneficial for a whole suite of nonhumans, including bees.”