Irena Hollowell

As of summer of 2018, President of the Grassroots Seed Network, and the main person working to create and improve this website. This is challenging work for me. Serving on a board is quite different from other work I’ve done , and in my experience, not as straightforward. Also, creating a website for peer to peer exchange is technically complicated. I think my reasons for sticking with it are best summarized in this “20 enormous collections of varieties” blog post that I wrote fo Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: http://www.southernexposure.com/blog/2018/12/20-enormous-collections-of-varieties/

I have been tasting plants since before I could walk. Mint and wood sorrel were among my early favorites.

I first found my calling towards varietal preservation in the highlands of Ecuador in 2004, at the age of 24, with the Red de Guardianes de Semillas. Later I visited seed collectors in Thailand and India, and when I returned to the US, I wanted to continue the work of varietal preservation.

At Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, (website: southernexposure.com) my work includes growing trial crops, growing seed crops, seed cleaning, product development for seed-saving tools, photography, website content, blogging, customer service, back order management, seed donations (including to seed libraries), and a wide range of short-term projects.

One of my current passions is for finding crops that are of non-European origin, well-suited to cultivation in the Southeast, and not currently widely known to Americans, and for making them more available.

I have a deep respect for many indigenous traditions. I recognize seeds and plants as beings and I want to work toward a culture of respect for the many beings we work with. Patents on life disgust me, and I would object to any patenting of any progeny of the seeds I offer here.

Since 2009 I have been a member of a commune (Acorn Community) and a worker cooperative (Southern Exposure) where we are all, in a sense, volunteer workers. I have come to love radical cooperation and horizontal structures of governance.

All the seeds I list are grown on Acorn Community property. I had a hand in choosing, tending, harvesting, and cleaning each of these seed crops. We hold our land and labor in common as a 501(d) corporation (the same tax status as a monastery), and many other hands have helped tend and harvest these seed crops.

Southern Exposure also sells seeds grown by over 50 small farmers, including many in the Southeast, and others nationwide. Many heirloom varieties that we carry were originally given to us by breeders, seed-savers, or their families.

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