The 8-part series hosted by Model, Sustainability Activist and Plant Influencer Summer Rayne Oakes launches April 12, 2023
Listen to the official trailer now HERE
ATLANTA AND NEW YORK – April 5, 2023 – School of Humans and iHeartPodcasts today announce “Bad Seeds”. The phrase “black market” evokes sinister images: Stacks of AK-47s. Crates of cocaine. Caged tigers. But potted succulents on a windowsill? No one is calling Crime Stoppers for that. And yet, the biggest black market you’ve never heard of is blooming right under your nose. Whether it’s a 4,000-pound cactus shoveled from the Arizona desert or delicate orchids pinched from the tangled jungle of Peru, rare plants are at the center of a rapidly growing -- and lucrative -- world of crime. The 8-part series begins with a special Earth Month launch on April 12 with two episodes.
From Mexican drug cartels cashing in by ripping succulents from the desert, or a cabal of corrupt government officials secretly peddling endangered species, “Bad Seeds” looks into an underworld where obsessive collectors and hardened criminals collide. Along the way, we explore how all these crime sprees and coverups affect everyday consumers and enthusiasts -- and the fate of the planet.
Model and sustainability activist Summer Rayne Oakes was stunned when a Modern Farmer feature on her prodigiously verdant Brooklyn apartment went viral in 2016. She catapulted into the forefront of a houseplant trend that peaked during the Covid pandemic. Little did she know that her popular unboxing videos and fame would inadvertently lead some obsessed consumers and suppliers to collect plants through nefarious means to fuel the growing plant obsession.
After years of advocacy in the sustainable fashion and food industries, Oakes urges consumers to take a closer look at how the succulents and orchids adorning homes and Instagram videos are sourced. “To be honest, I feel a level of responsibility,” Oakes says today. “One of the reasons that drew me to host this podcast was to help folks understand the underreported nature of unethical plant harvesting, the detrimental ramifications it can have on the environment, and how we can be more aware of what to look out for.”
In “Bad Seeds,” Oakes talks to the buyers, the sellers, the obsessives, those who came face-to-face with the criminals behind an underworld few know exist. The podcast features interviews with avid plant collectors, US Fish and Wildlife Special Agents, scientists, and historians who show us that the passion for plants has been going on for a long time - from tulip mania in the Netherlands to the poacher who derailed Brazil's entire economy at the height of the Industrial Revolution. We also talk to people on the ground in places where deforestation and plant poaching has taken a grizzly toll.
These stories feature some juicy twists and turns but also expose the real threats to biodiversity that these crimes cause.
About School of Humans
School of Humans is a multi-platform production company producing series for television (Dirty Jobs, Six Degrees with Mike Rowe, Stuff You Should Know). The company launched its audio division with the hit true crime podcast HELL AND GONE. The perennial top ten podcast is now in its fourth season, with over 16 million downloads to date. School of Humans Audio now boasts a slate of successful non-fiction titles distributed under a multi-year deal with iHeartMedia. Among them, “Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children (#1 Apple and Spotify History Podcast charts) ; Red Elvis (with Curiosity Stream); ASTRAY (debuted at #15 on national podcast charts); and RACKET (A Vulture “Best New True Crime Podcasts” pick). School of Humans’ first scripted podcast, Sisters of The Underground starring Dania Ramirez (X-Men, Sweet Tooth) and Judy Reyes (Succession, Scrubs) was produced in conjunction with MyCultura and Eva Longoria.