33rd Annual Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout

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    Online Registration Closed.
    Please call 563-382-5990 to register.


    Join the Seed Savers Exchange community in Decorah, Iowa at the 33rd Annual Conference and Campout July 19-21, 2013. This event brings together experts and amateurs to share seed saving knowledge and stories. Speakers include Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan, Dr. Jack Kloppenburg, Dr. Jeremy Cherfas, Sara McCamant, and Rosalind Creasy.

  • View the 2013 Conference and Campout Trailer:

  • Keynote Speaker

  • Gary

    Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan

    Gary Nabhan, former board member and long-time supporter of SSE, will return to Heritage Farm to keynote the 33rd Annual Conference & Campout. He is an internationally celebrated nature writer, seed saver, conservation biologist and sustainable agriculture activist who has been called "the father of the local food movement" by Mother Earth News. Gary is also an orchard-keeper, wild forager and Ecumenical Franciscan brother in his hometown of Patagonia, Arizona near the Mexican border. Gary is author of many books including Desert Terroir: Exploring the Unique Flavors and Sundry Places of the Borderlands and Coming Home to Eat.

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  • Here is where attendees are coming from so far:

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  • Workshop Tracks

          •Seed Saving 101
          •About Seed Savers Exchange
          •Community Seed Projects
          •General Gardening

  • Member Field Day

    We have a special day planned for members. On Friday July 19, SSE will host our first Member Field Day, a chance for members to look behind the scenes at Heritage Farm: find out how we manage our collection; tour our lab facilities and preservation gardens; and meet staff and board members. Join us for a special day of activities before the conference starts.
  • Carry on a Seed Saving Legacy

    Long-time Seed Savers Exchange member Mary Ann Fox recently passed away, leaving behind an enormous collection of heirloom beans and other seeds. Seed Savers Exchange staff members will be facilitating the distribution of Mary Ann's seed legacy to interested gardeners and seed savers at the conference. Read more about it in our blog or read about it in the Modern Farmer article.
  • Plenty of Fun

          •Bring your seed collections for the Seed Swap.
          •Cook heirloom beans in the traditional style of the New England Bean         Hole.
          •Enjoy delicious local and organic food.
          •Watch Friday night's outdoor movie.
          •Cut a rug at Saturday night's barn dance.
          •Explore Heritage Farm's scenic hiking trails and trout streams.
          •Bring the kids along for Dig & Discover.

  • Dig and Discover: Youth Activities

    Workshops, play, and adventures in nature for children ages 6-14 (registration required; 15 and older require full conference registration). Activities include forest hikes, music in the garden, fresh food preparation, a bonfire, and a few surprises along the way.
  • Lodging

          •Camp in the Valley amongst Trial Gardens and Bur Oaks.
          •Housing is available at Luther College for $38 per night. Sign up on the registration form.
          •Super 8 (563) 382-8771 (10 rooms blocked)
          •Stoney Creek Inn (563) 568-2220 (15 rooms blocked)
          •See more lodging options at www.visitdecorah.com

  • Featured Speakers


    Dr. Jack Kloppenburg

    Jack Kloppenburg is a Professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of the influential First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology, 1492-2000. In his work on the “foodshed,” he has envisioned the emergence of a sustainable food system founded on local/regional food production, regional reinvestment of capital, local job creation, the strength of community institutions, and direct democratic participation in the local food economy. Most recently, he has joined with farmers, plant breeders and sustainability advocates to establish the Open Source Seed Initiative, an organization committed to facilitating vigorous innovation in plant breeding by preserving the right to unencumbered use of shared seeds and their progeny in breeding programs.

    Talk- “Toward Open Source Seeds: Free as in Speech, Not as in Beer”
    Corporate appropriation of plant genetic resources, development of transgenic crops, and the global imposition of intellectual property rights are now widely recognized as serious constraints on the free exchange of seeds and the development of new cultivars by public breeders and small seed companies. In response, legal and operational mechanisms drawn from the open source software movement have been proposed for deployment in plant breeding. In the United States, an Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) has been organized by a working group of plant breeders, farmers, non-governmental organizations and sustainable food system advocates. OSSI promotes innovative plant breeding that produces resilient and productive cultivars adapted to a multiplicity of sustainable agroecosystems. It works to encourage and reward the sharing rather than the restriction of germplasm, to revitalize public plant breeding, and to integrate the skills and capacities of farmers with those of plant scientists.


    Dr. Jeremy Cherfas

    Jeremy Cherfas is a biologist and communicator with a long-standing interest in agricultural biology. He worked to resurrect the Heritage Seed Library of Garden Organic in England and for a while ran a small seed company called Future Foods, which specialised in "weird and wonderful things for the edible garden." One reason for doing so was because many of these strange edible species had flown under the radar of the European Union's seed legislation, which regulates the marketing of crop varieties. More recently, he has been working as senior science writer at Bioversity International, the international agricultural research centre focused on agricultural biodiversity. He lives in Rome, and still saves seeds when he can.

    Talk- "European Legislation: Is everything not permitted still forbidden?"
    The European Union's restrictive regulations prevent people from marketing any crop variety that hasn't been registered on a National Catalogue. As a result, many of the activities that you take for granted—including seed swaps and selling small packets of seeds—are strictly speaking illegal. Some seed companies have incurred heavy fines for offering their customers a greater choice. More recently there have been some changes that the EU thinks are moves in the right direction. I will explore the history and future of EU seed regulations, and show that despite the recent changes over-protective regulation is Europe's biggest single obstacle to innovation and adaptation to climate change.
    Read more from Dr. Cherfas in our blog.


    Sara McCamant

    Sara McCamant is a long term local food activist, garden educator and seed saver in Northern California. Currently she works with Seed Matters, an initiative of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, coordinating their Community Seed Toolkit program. She helped co-found the West County Community Seed Exchange in Sebastopol, CA. She first became an SSE listed member in 1992. She sees seed saving as important work in building resilient, sustainable communities.

    Talk- "Seed as a Tool for Community Organizing"
    Sara McCamant has always used seed and gardens to bring people together and strengthen community. She hated having jars of seed sitting in the closet growing old, so she began to organize ways to share and swap seed with neighbors. She co-founded one of the first community seed banks in the country and has been involved with building the resources and skills to strengthen the emerging community-based seed movement through her work with Seed Matters.


    Rosalind Creasy

    Garden and food writer, photographer and landscape designer with a passion for beautiful vegetables and ecologically sensitive gardening, Ros is the author of multiple books including Edible Landscaping. Throughout her more than 30-year career in horticulture, she has continued to share her knowledge of gardening and cooking by writing, lecturing nationwide and appearing on television and radio shows. Her photographs appear frequently in numerous magazines, calendars (including Seed Savers Exchange's annual calendar) and books. Visit Rosalind's website here.

    Talk- "Confusion in the Edible Garden: What most gardeners want to know"
    Plant breeders and nursery people know much about edible plants that seldom reaches the home gardener. Did you know that cilantro is a short day plant that needs cool weather? That’s why it always goes to flower when you plant it in the spring as the days get longer - instead plant it in the fall. Or, those large heirloom beefsteak tomatoes have many ovaries and most need warm humid nights to pollinate them all properly? That’s why they often grow poorly in cool or arid summer areas. How do you know which vegetables to grow in the cool seasons, and which to grow in the warm season? There’s a rule of thumb: If you eat the leaf, tuber, or flower bud the vegetable prefers cool conditions. If you eat the fruit (ie. tomatoes and squash are botanical fruits) or the seeds, it needs warm conditions to produce well. Join Rosalind and learn much more about growing your edibles successfully.

  • Our sponsors made this event possible

    Decorah Bank and Trust

    Chelsea Green Publishing    Grass Run Farms    Mother Earth News    Organic Valley
    Seward Community Co-op    Dug Road Inn             Trusted Choice    Woodward Printing Services
    Kalona Super Natural    Peace Coffee    Straus Family Creamery    Albert's Organics    Caves of Faribault    Lundberg Family Farms
    Frontier Natural Products    Crofter's Organic    Eastwind Nut Butters    Eden Organic    Once Again    Late July
    Wholesome Sweeteners    Milton Creamery    Oneota Food Co-op    Oregon Chai    Seven Stars    Sno Pac Frozen Vegetables
    Hotel Winneshiek