Zee Husain's curry leaf plants have a waitlist

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Zee Husain in the greenhouse of Kula Nursery, in Oakland, California. Photo by Melati Chitrawireja.

When the pandemic hit, Zee Husain had just finished her masters degree in international agricultural development. She realized that what she had learned in school could be applied in her community. She started by growing things she had grown up eating but didn't see at most nurseries, like Indian okra.

Now, under a mirrored disco ball in Kula Nursery's greenhouse, Husain tends to 2,000 plants. There, in Oakland, California, she cultivates everything from laksa leaves and huacatay (Peruvian mint) to sambar cucumbers and kadipatta plants (curry leaf plants). And she does it all while working to honor her ancestors. Although her kadipatta plants have become a coveted item, for Husain, "I grew up with it just as a houseplant. I think it's an ubiquitous houseplant among South Asian families in the U.S."

A disco ball adds a bit of sparkle to the greenhouse at Kula Nursery. Photo by Melati Chitrawireja.