Virtual Conference: August 21, 2020.

Welcome to our 2020 online conference!

We were sad to miss our in-person Conference & Campout for the first time in 40 years, but we are glad to be able to offer a small piece of the conference experience here online. All pre-recorded videos and live Q&A are now available on this page. Thank you for joining us this year, unlike any other.

In seeds, celebration, and community,
Jeanine Scheffert, Education & Engagement Manager

Welcome

Welcome - 5 minute video

SSE Executive Director Emily Rose Haga welcomes us to our first ever Seed Savers Exchange virtual conference.

Tours

Catalog Trials and Upper Ridge Fields - 17 minute video & recorded live Q&A

Join Rochelle Wiedenhoeft, Collection Field Coordinator, and Cody Egan, Catalog Field Coordinator, on a ridge top tour of the Seed Savers Exchange production fields.

South Farm High Tunnel & Isolation Cages - 20 minute video

Join us at Heritage Farm for a colorful tour of our South Farm site's season extension and isolation cage infrastructure, led by our Seed Production Manager Koby Hagen and our Greenhouse Manager Sarah Cousins.

Evaluation Garden - 20 minute video

Steffen Mirsky, Evaluation and Trials Manager, takes us on a tour of the Evaluation Garden for a look at some of the collection varieties being grown out this year for documentation.

Diane’s Garden - 15 minute video

Join SSE Co-founder Diane Ott Whealy as she tours the garden she started on an old cattle lot when moving to Heritage Farm with her family years ago.

Seed House: Seed Distribution and Pandemic Pivot - 15 minute video

John Reynolds, SSE Director of Sales and Business takes us on a tour of our seed distribution site. Learn the path a seed takes through the Seed House and gain insight on some of the changes SSE made to accommodate rising seed sales in the midst of a global pandemic.

Preservation Lab - 25 minute video

Sara Straate, SSE Seed Historian leads a tour through the SSE Preservation Lab. We’ll stop along the way to meet Preservation staff and see them in action filling Yearbook requests, doing germination tests, preserving potatoes in test tubes, evaluating carrots, and reaching out to listers on the Exchange.

Historic Orchard & Goldman Orchard - 35 minute video

Orchard Manager Lindsay Lee and Assistant Orchard Manager, Jenn Ripp outline the work they are doing in SSE’s two orchards and highlight a few of their favorite apple varieties.

Presentations

Community Seed Network - 8 minute video

In partnership with SeedChange, and in collaboration with seed organizations across the US and Canada, SSE created the Community Seed Network site in 2017. Learn more about this initiative and how you can put yourself on the map and join in the seedy conversation!

Resilience Gardens Project - 7 minute video

The Resilience Gardens Project is the SSE Education & Engagement department’s pandemic pivot. Learn more about the conditions that led up to large seed and transplant donations, and how SSE is supporting local & international community resilience through seed and garden education.

Workshops

Making Herbal Teas, Tinctures, and Salves with Bevin Cohen - 30 minute video & recorded live Q&A

Explore the value of using wildcrafted and locally grown herbs from your own bio-region with Bevin Cohen. Bevin will discuss the quality, potency and sustainability of locally sourced herbs. He will also share the benefits of many well-known herbs, and a variety of methods that can be used to harness their healing properties; including teas, tinctures, salves and more. This will be a fun and fast-paced presentation, packed with useful information for herb enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Seed Germination - 30 minute video & recorded live Q&A

Learn how to test your saved seeds for viability in long and short-term preservation. This workshop will include setting up and reading a seed germination test according to crop type, and will highlight the best conditions for preserving seeds. Led by SSE Germination Technician, Shelja Thakur.

Home Germination Test Guide

Germination Test Conditions Reference Sheet

Germination Test Evaluation

Germination Test Recording Form

More Resources

Bud Grafting - 15 minute video

SSE Orchard Manager, Lindsay Lee, walks us through the steps of propagating apple trees in the age-old tradition of bud grafting.

At-Home Seed Processing - 35 minute video

Humans have been saving seed for as long as we’ve been growing food. Join SSE Seed Production Manager, Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen to learn some easy tricks for saving seed from the garden produce you grow and love.

Corn Hand Pollination - 35 minute video

Because corn pollen can travel long distances on the wind, and because corn is grown in nearly every region of the United States, it is often unreliable to depend on isolation by distance when trying to save true-to-type seed from a corn variety. This makes corn hand pollination a useful skill to have. Join Phil Kauth, SSE Director of Preservation, as he walks us through the steps of hand pollinating corn.

Cucumber Brining - 10 minute video

We’ll all miss the delicious evening Conference & Campout meal served by Ruth Hampton of Trout River Catering, but here she’ll walk us through one of the tricks of her trade: cucumber brining.

Panels

Seed Library Panel - Live recording

Panelists Bevin Cohen, Heidi Kass, and Charlie Costello discuss all-things seed libraries. Panel will be moderated by SSE’s Greenhouse Manager, Sarah Cousins. Join this live session to learn about seed libraries, and ask questions of your own.

True-to-Type Game Show - Live recording

Some seed stories are too good to be true - and some true stories are hard to believe! Join this seedy game show to see if you can tell the difference: are these stories True-to-Type?

Keynote

Owen Taylor and Amirah Mitchell of Truelove Seeds: Supporting Community Seed Sovereignty as a Seed Company - Live recording

In this workshop, Owen Taylor and Amirah Mitchell focus on seed keeping as part of a living culture. They will emphasize relationship building as central to their work, including how they carefully invest in their relationships with seed growers committed to food justice work, and how they support growers in building deeper relationships with their culturally important plants through seed keeping.

Keynote Speakers

Owen Taylor

Owen Taylor

Owen Taylor is a seed keeper, farmer, and founder of Truelove Seeds, a seed company that is a collaboration between over 20 small-scale urban and rural farms committed to community food sovereignty, cultural preservation, and sustainable agriculture. Our model stems from Owen's 15+ years of work with food justice and urban agriculture and four years spent learning the art of seed saving from William Woys Weaver while managing his Roughwood Seed Collection. Find Owen @seedkeeping on Instagram and peruse truly-loved seeds and more at trueloveseeds.com.

Amirah Mitchell

Amirah Mitchell

Amirah Mitchell has been working in agriculture and the food movement for over a dozen years, initially as a teen farm intern, team leader and board member at The Food Project in Boston, MA. She has since worked on urban farms in Massachusetts, Georgia and Pennsylvania, and delivers various agroecology workshops, including agroforestry, soil ecology, urban gardening, seed-keeping and more. Amirah is a practicing seed keeper of over two years, focusing on food crops of the African diaspora. Currently she is studying horticulture at Temple University and is spending her third season working at Truelove Seeds.

Workshop Presenters

Bevin Cohen

Bevin Cohen

Bevin Cohen is an author, herbalist, gardener, seed saver, educator, and owner of Small House Farm in Michigan. Cohen offers workshops and lectures across the country on the benefits of living closer to the land through seeds, herbs, and locally grown food, and he has published numerous works on these topics, including the bestselling Saving Our Seeds and his highly anticipated new book, The Artisan Herbalist (New Society ’21). He serves on the board of the International Herb Association and the advisory council for the Community Seed Network. Learn more about Cohen’s work on his website smallhousefarm.com

Ruth Hampton

Ruth Hampton

Growing up on a farm near Whittier, Iowa gave Ruth Hampton a deep appreciation for ponies, star-filled skies, and the life cycle of foods. Ruth learned to cook for crowds and fell in love with stainless steel as a student at Scattergood Friends School, where students participate in all aspects of their kitchen and farm. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) then became her home for many years, where she cooked at a number of restaurants (including for Lenny Russo at the Loring Café) and played in an all-girl band. Ruth then returned to Iowa in the 1990's where she created and managed the deli at the Oneota Community Food Co-op and developed her small business of Trout River Catering. During her time in Decorah, Ruth also co-created and facilitated the food-centric performance-art dinners of Edible Alien Theater, and for eight years managed her cooking/art blog Awesome Cookery. Her current major activity is serving on the governance body of Scattergood Friends School, where the progressive education of young people includes living in Community while growing and cooking food from their organic farm living laboratory—merging science, education, and the arts with sustainability and service as part of their daily life.

Shelja Thakur

Shelja Thakur

Shelja Thakur graduated Luther College in 2018 with a major in Environmental Studies. Fascinated by Seed Savers Exchange’s mission, she interned with the organization in January 2017. After graduation, she joined the SSE preservation team as the Inventory Technician, and after a year, she completed the Seed Analyst Germination Testing Short Course at Iowa State University and moved to the position of SSE Germination Technician. She is passionate about environmental policy and sustainability, and plans to dedicate her career to public and environmental policy.

Lindsay Lee

Lindsay Lee

Lindsay Lee, Seed Savers Exchange’s Orchard Manager and Horticultural Advisor, describes himself as an “old-school nurseryman.” He has logged over 45 years in the ornamental horticulture trades, with 30 of those running Willowglen, a seed-to-sale perennial plant nursery near Decorah, Iowa. Lindsay served as the grafting team leader in 1989 when SSE collected the first trees for its Heritage Orchard. “I believe the knowledge and skill of grafting has been eroding among gardeners,” says Lee. “It is my goal to rectify this by teaching gardeners to graft and share their favorite fruits.”

Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen

Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen

Koby leads the SSE field operations team that regenerates our seedbank, produces seed for our catalog, and works with contract growers across the country. She draws upon a variety of interdisciplinary grassroots and academic experiences to create resilient seed production plans. She has a Masters in Community and Regional Planning: Natural Resources, the Environment, and Seed Systems, obtained her Permaculture Design Certificate in New Mexico, her Permaculture Teacher Certificate in Minnesota, has management and consultant experience with urban and rural farms, and has produced seed in NM, CO, MN, CO, and WI. She aims to always inspire and support new and veteran seed growers to dive deeper into regenerative methods and sharing our seed abundance.

Phil Kauth

Philip Kauth, PhD

Philip joined Seed Savers Exchange in 2013 as the tissue culture lab manager and was assistant curator in charge of the evaluation program from 2014-2017. As Director of Preservation, Philip leads the team tasked with managing the vast collection of over 20,000 open-pollinated varieties. Philip has a MS and PhD in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida.

Seed Library Panelists

Heidi Kass

Heidi Kass

Heidi Kass lives in Rochester, MN, the town where she was born and raised. She graduated from Luther College with a degree in Biology and would have loved to intern at Heritage Farm if it had existed back then! She has loved gardening since childhood but having a well-developed garden of her own had been a challenge until permanently moving back to Rochester after many years of moving around the state. Outside of her full-time job in accounting, Heidi indulges in her gardening obsession. She is gradually replacing her traditional city yard with raised bed gardens, fruit trees and bushes, pollinator habitat, and a chicken coop. Her interests also include many other topics related to self-sufficiency and sustainability. The desire to find a community of like-minded people inspired her to organize an Urban Homesteading Meet-Up group in 2017 which currently has over 150 members in the Rochester area. Through the activities of the Urban Homesteading group, she connected with an old classmate who shared her obsession with seeds and growing food and they soon realized that they had both been individually strategizing on how to bring a Seed Library to Rochester. Heidi and Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick joined forces and proposed the idea to the Rochester Public Library in 2018 and saw their dream become a reality in 2019. Heidi continues to be very actively involved with steering the project and is passionate about getting people to grow gardens, for their own health and the health of the planet!

Charlie Costello

Charlie Costello

Charlie Costello is a self-described seed and soil evangelist, on a mission to build community one seed at a time. In 2009, Charlie got a greenhouse, and with that, he started to change his neighborhood. His fascination with seeds (tomato seed in particular) grew each year as he began to save seeds and connect with seed savers and his community. Soon thereafter, he joined Seed Savers Exchange, and has never looked back. He felt the larger community and the world at large come into focus. As the climate, soil, and environmental degradation and biodiversity loss began his quest for a way to share seeds with his community, he joined the Practical Farmers of Iowa and attended two winter conferences in Ames, Iowa. In the spring of 2015, he launched MariLark Farms at his home in the Berkeley Hills. That led to the creation of the first Community Seed Bank (CSB) in May of 2018. Two years later, the Community Seed Bank has become a beacon of hope in his community in the midst of a world pandemic. He donated over 1,000 tomato starts to his local community and the San Francisco East Bay during the pandemic with the help of seed savers like David Cavagnaro and Seed Savers Exchange. He and his wife, Liz Cunningham, and their dog Elsa host a tomato tasting every year. This year they are hoping to host their eighth tasting in a row.

Bevin Cohen

Bevin Cohen

Bevin Cohen is an author, herbalist, gardener, seed saver, educator, and owner of Small House Farm in Michigan. Cohen offers workshops and lectures across the country on the benefits of living closer to the land through seeds, herbs, and locally grown food, and he has published numerous works on these topics, including the bestselling Saving Our Seeds and his highly anticipated new book, The Artisan Herbalist (New Society ’21). He serves on the board of the International Herb Association and the advisory council for the Community Seed Network. Learn more about Cohen’s work on his website smallhousefarm.com

Tour Guides & Panel Moderators

Emily Rose Haga

Emily Rose Haga

Emily Rose Haga is a professional seedswoman with deep roots in the alternative seed community and a 20 year history of being inspired by the work of Seed Savers Exchange. As a plant breeder, long-time member, and new Executive Director, she has a strong passion for the art, science, culture, and business of seeds and how these uniquely intersect with our noble mission to preserve America’s garden heritage.

Diane Ott Whealy

Diane Ott Whealy

Diane 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 over 36 years. Diane retired from SSE in 2015 and remains an advisor to the organization.

Rochelle Wiedenhoeft

Rochelle Wiedenhoeft

Rochelle Wiedenhoeft manages Collection seed regenerations at Seed Savers Exchange. Rochelle studied Biology and Ethnobotany at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and has a background in sustainable agriculture. She loves working with and learning from seeds, especially when seed processing and cleaning.

Cody Egan

Cody Egan

Cody Egan is the Catalog Field Coordinator at Seed Savers Exchange, which puts the catalog seed productions under his purview. He has almost a decade of experience in organic agriculture, with the lionshare in diversified vegetable crop production. He loves the ability seeds have to reconnect us to a specific time and place; a certain soil and season during which that seed, and the memories associated with it, were grown.

Steffen Mirsky

Steffen Mirsky

Steffen Mirsky is the Evaluation and Trials Manager at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA. Since he joined the team in 2011, he has helped document about 6000 varieties of fruits and vegetables from the Seed Savers Exchange collection. He also manages the Citizen Science Corps, where participants from around the country trial varieties from the collection and send feedback on their performance. A graduate of the University of Washington, Steffen got his feet wet in agriculture through the WWOOF program and has a passion for the natural world and sustainable food systems.

Sarah Cousins

Sarah Cousins

Sarah Cousins is the Greenhouse Manager and leads the insect pollination program at Seed Savers Exchange. Sarah has a Certificate of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems from the University of California, Santa Cruz and has a background in market farming with a focus on community food and seed sovereignty. She is interested in continuing to build justice and equity in our food system through ethical seed stewardship.

Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen

Koby Jeschkeit-Hagen

Koby leads the SSE field operations team that regenerates our seedbank, produces seed for our catalog, and works with contract growers across the country. She draws upon a variety of interdisciplinary grassroots and academic experiences to create resilient seed production plans. She has a Masters in Community and Regional Planning: Natural Resources, the Environment, and Seed Systems, obtained her Permaculture Design Certificate in New Mexico, her Permaculture Teacher Certificate in Minnesota, has management and consultant experience with urban and rural farms, and has produced seed in NM, CO, MN, CO, and WI. She aims to always inspire and support new and veteran seed growers to dive deeper into regenerative methods and sharing our seed abundance.

John Reynolds

John Reynolds

John and his family have purchased Seed Savers Exchange seeds since 2010 for his raised bed urban garden. He is responsible for sales and business operations of the Seed House at Heritage Farm; and brings a wealth of Digital Marketing and Ecommerce experience from his time in New York City.

Sara Straate

Sara Straate

Sara Straate joined Seed Savers Exchange in 2011 as the seed historian. Sara coordinates the seed history research project which is an ongoing effort to enhance the documentation of each variety in the seed bank collection at Seed Savers Exchange. This includes gathering stories of garden stewardship and cultural history from seed donors and their families. Sara has an undergraduate degree in Horticulture from Iowa State University.

Lindsay Lee

Lindsay Lee

Lindsay Lee, Seed Savers Exchange’s Orchard Manager and Horticultural Advisor, describes himself as an “old-school nurseryman.” He has logged over 45 years in the ornamental horticulture trades, with 30 of those running Willowglen, a seed-to-sale perennial plant nursery near Decorah, Iowa. Lindsay served as the grafting team leader in 1989 when SSE collected the first trees for its Heritage Orchard. “I believe the knowledge and skill of grafting has been eroding among gardeners,” says Lee. “It is my goal to rectify this by teaching gardeners to graft and share their favorite fruits.”

Jenn Ripp

Jenn Ripp

Jennifer Ripp grew up on the Wisconsin side of the Driftless area, west of Madison, where she helped her relatives farm and her mom keep a garden. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota, she began her career in food, starting out as a chef, but quickly transitioning back to her original roots in farming. She has worked on sheep, goat, llama, and pig farms, as well as in orchards, fields, and aquaponics. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, having spent 29 months in rural Tanzania teaching sustainable agriculture practices and natural resource management, as well as English and art in her community. She joined Seed Savers Exchange to learn the world of seeds and be a part of supporting biodiversity in agriculture crops. Her current role at Seed Savers Exchange is the Assistant Orchard Manager.

Jeanine Scheffert

Jeanine Scheffert

Jeanine comes to Seed Savers Exchange with fond childhood memories of carving pumpkins and attending potlucks in the SSE barn. She has a background in fine arts, a love of gardening, and a passion for facilitating connection, engagement, and empowerment. She is responsible for SSE’s education and engagement programs and brings a wealth of education experience from 20 years of work in the field.

Sponsors

Terra Chips
Pulpit Rock Brewing Co