Request A Speaker
Seed Savers Exchange is proud to share our expertise on seed saving, gardening, heirlooms, apples, and more. If you are interested in hosting a speaker from Seed Savers Exchange please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form below. Below is a list of current offerings. Travel expenses and honorariums should be covered for all speakers. Honorariums vary for the speakers. As a free alternative to hosting a SSE speaker, consider scheduling a live webinar. Past webinars are archived here.
SSE Orchard Manager
Dan Bussey is the Orchard Manager at Seed Savers Exchange. Apple historian and orchard keeper, Bussey has written a book on 14,000 apple varieties grown in North America since the 1600s which is scheduled to be published in 2014. He owns a four-acre orchard in Wisconsin featuring more than 250 apple varieties.Workshops and Lectures:
-Our Apple Heritage
-Apple Grafting (Watch a short preview here)
-Hard Cider Making
SSE Board Member
Los Altos, CA
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 hereLectures:
-Gardening with Heirlooms
-Cooking with Heirlooms
SSE Tomato Advisor
Craig LeHoullier joined SSE in 1986 and rapidly developed a passion for heirloom tomatoes. A chemist by education and training, but now retired from the Pharmaceutical Industry, he is completely immersed in gardening, garden writing and sharing his experiences through lectures and workshops. Craig is hard at work on his first book on tomatoes, which will be published by Storey Publishing in 2014. Craig also created the annual Tomatopalooza tomato tasting in North Carolina.Workshops and Lectures:
-Tomatoes with Great Stories and Great Flavor
-New Tomato Varieties by Luck, Observation or Design
-Heirloom Tomatoes 101
-Exploring the World of Tomatoes, in the Garden and in the Kitchen
Diane Ott Whealy
SSE Co-Founder and Vice President
Diane Ott Whealy co-founded Seed Savers Exchange with Kent Whealy in 1975. She has been a national leader in the heirloom seed movement and a strong advocate for the protection of the earth's rare genetic food stocks for more than 35 years. In 1986 she helped develop Heritage Farm, SSE's scenic 890-acre headquarters near Decorah, Iowa to maintain and display endangered varieties. Today she is a featured speaker at garden shows and botanical gardens throughout the country. In June 2011, she published Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver, which tells the story of how SSE has grown from a small coterie of passionate gardeners to one of the most active and effective seed saving organizations in the world. View a short video featuring Diane in Mrs. Meyers 'Grow Inspired' film series here.
Workshops and Lectures:
-Edible Landscaping with Heirlooms
-Book readings from Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver (Watch a short preview here)
-The History of Seed Savers Exchange in the Heirloom Seed Movement
Seed Savers Exchange Staff offer the following workshops and lectures:
Planning Your Garden for Seed Saving
-If you’re interested in seed saving, understanding some basic concepts before you get started will make the process easier. Learn the difference between open-pollinated and hybrid seed and gain understanding of plant taxonomy, reproductive structures and pollination methods. Seed Savers Exchange staff will also touch on the isolation techniques used at Heritage Farm, the 890-acre home of SSE. Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit, member supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations.**This program can be modified for beginning and advanced seed savers.**
Harvesting Seed: Wet Seed and Dry Seed Processing
-This workshop covers the basics of harvesting seed. Attendees will learn how to identify ripe seed, clean seed through processes such as threshing, winnowing, and fermentation, and how to properly dry and store seed.
-Seed Savers Exchange’s work to preserve genetic diversity is inextricably tied to preserving cultural history. Understanding the cultural and historical uses, value, and growing methods of open-pollinated and heirloom varieties is essential to understanding and maintaining SSE's collection. To better understand our seeds' stories, SSE has launched the Collection Origins Research Effort (CORE), to collect complete histories on the thousands of records in the collection. Hear the stories that are coming out of the CORE project and learn how some of our favorite varieties came to be.
Preserving our Garden Heritage
-As seed companies consolidate and agriculture moves to select for fewer crops, preserving genetic diversity and keeping that diversity in the hands of farmers and gardeners is paramount concern. SSE Staff will discuss how Seed Savers Exchange works and how our programs enable gardeners to become backyard preservationists, advocates for a diverse food supply, and conservators of agricultural history.
President and Executive Director
John Torgrimson has been the Executive Director of SSE since July 2010. He previously served as Editor and Media Coordinator for the organization. Torgrimson has considerable experience managing nonprofit organizations, including serving as Executive Director of Oxfam Hong Kong, an international development and relief organization working in Southeast Asia. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer, having served as a community development worker along with his wife Patricia in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. He and his wife live on an organic certified hobby farm in Minnesota.
Tor Janson coordinates the plant evaluation program in the Preservation department. Varietal evaluations help SSE identify genetic uniqueness in the collection, monitor stewardship success, and develop varietal descriptions. Tor has been at SSE since 2011. He enjoys interacting with SSE members via the Member-Grower Evalution Network (M-GEN), a group of dedicated SSE gardeners from across North America who grow and evaluate SSE collection varieties to identify regional adaptations and assess eating qualities. Tor’s educational background is in biology and landscape architecture.
Public Programs Manager
As Public Programs Manager of Seed Savers Exchange, Grant Olson helps facilitate the world’s largest grassroots seed exchange, which connects thousands of gardeners, farmers and chefs across the country and around the world. He encourages participatory preservation of rare and unusual varieties in backyard gardens through events, workshops, publications and online resources found at exchange.seedsavers.org.
Jenna Sicuranza has been at SSE since January 2010, serving first as Assistant Curator. With an M.S. in Plant Science from the University of Rhode Island, Jenna enjoys exploring her interests in organic food production and plant collections management. As Collection Curator, Jenna is primarily responsible for collection acquisitions, evaluation, documentation, and promotion. What she loves most about her job is that she gets to look closely at the varieties in the SSE collection; the diversity and beauty of the collection is very exciting to this self-described “plant geek”.
Sara Straate joined the Preservation department in 2011 as Seed Historian. Sara focuses on the CORE project (Collection Origins Research Effort) in which she researches and improves the documentation of each plant variety in the SSE preservation collection. She enjoys the sleuthing aspect of reconnecting with sources and their families to learn about each seed's history. A native of northeast Iowa, Sara graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor's degree in horticulture.
Seed Bank Manager
Tim Johnson joined the Seed Savers Exchange Preservation team in 2012 after earning his masters and doctoral degrees in Environmental Horticulture from the University of Florida. As an Alumni Fellow, he researched the seed physiology and breeding systems of threatened native orchid species and taught courses on plant conservation and plant micropropagation. Tim now manages SSE's extensive seed and plant material collection at Heritage Farm.
To get more information on requesting a SSE speaker for your event, please fill out the form below. Select "Speaking Engagements" in the Case Type box. We'll respond within 3-4 business days. Thank you!