38th Annual Conference
& Campout

July 20 & 21, 2018

Come take part in this colorful celebration of our farm and garden heritage. Friday-night potluck, seed swap, bonfire, and camping. Free lectures, garden tours, hayrides, vegetable tastings, and an old-fashioned barn dance on Saturday.


FREE Registration

All ages

Meals and camping not included


Purchase online

$15 Saturday lunch

$25 Saturday dinner


Our campground at Heritage Farm is full.

Registration required

$25/site covers Friday and Saturday night and light breakfast fare

Max 6 people per site

Primitive sites, no shower or electricity

Check-in 3-7 pm Friday, July 20


Schedule is subject to change

Friday, July 20

3:00-7:00 pm

Campground Check-in

4:00 pm

Cash Bar Opens

Featuring wine and craft beer from our internationally-renowned local brewery, Toppling Goliath.

5:00 pm


Bring a dish to share, plates and utensils if you have them! We’ll provide grilled chicken and a salad.

6:00 pm

Seed Swap and Hayrides

Bring seeds to share and swap with fellow gardeners, or hop on a hay wagon and take a tour through the valley to visit our Ancient White Park cattle.

8:00 pm


We’ll end the evening with a bonfire for campers and anyone who wants to stay into the evening to share stories, reconnect, and find new friends around a fire.

Saturday, July 21

9:30 am

Welcome by Seed Savers Exchange Executive Director, Lee Buttala

10:00-11:30 am

Speakers Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy: Life in the Soil - A Journey

Discover the microscopic players who help grow healthy soil, plants and communities.

Evaluation Garden Tour and Vegetable Tasting

Discover some of the fascinating varieties we are evaluating this year and learn how these plantings help us manage our collection.

Hayrides to North Ridge Gardens

Take a hayride to the best view of Heritage Farm. Learn about collection regenerations, evaluation gardens, corn hand pollination, and garlic. Learn about how and why we grow certain crops, and take the opportunity to ask questions about our field operations.

11:30 am-12:15 pm

Speaker John Whitman: On Cold Climate Gardening

An expert on gardening in the North holds an informal discussion with some comical and practical advice on growing vegetables in the colder regions of the country.

Vegetable Tasting Continued

Hayride to Ancient White Park Cattle

Heritage Farm is one of just a few breeding grounds for these beautiful animals. Join us on a hayride through the valley and learn more about this heritage breed.

12:15-1:15 pm

Lunch (registration required: $15/person)

1:15-2:15 pm

Speaker Rosalind Creasy: Edible Landscaping

One of the nation’s foremost experts on edible landscaping shares her ideas for creating gardens that are both beautiful and productive.

Orchard Hike and Tour

Tour SSE's Historic Orchard with orchardist Lindsay Lee. Learn about our vast apple collection and the history of this beautiful orchard.

2:30-3:30 pm

Speaker Jovan Sage: The Migration of Southern Foodways: Stories of Family, Culture and Community

Food alchemist and Slow Food veteran Jovan Sage shares her journey and history working with beloved Southern crops that have traveled with her.

3:45-4:45 pm

Speakers Rowen White and Lee Buttala: Keeping Seeds Where They Belong; in situ and ex situ Preservation

Seed Savers Exchange’s Board Chair and Executive Director take us from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault where we back up our seed supply for the future to indigenous communities that SSE is working with as part of a seed rematriation project.

5:00-6:00 pm

True-to-Type: Varieties and Their Stories

Join us in this fun game-show style panel, hosted by SSE Co-founder, Diane Ott Whealy, as the audience tries to determine which of these fantastic seed stories are true and which are false!

6:00-6:30 pm

Book Signing

Authors John Whitman, Rosalind Creasy, Diane Ott Whealy, Lee Buttala, Steffen Mirsky, and Ben Cohen.

Cash Bar Opens

Featuring wine and craft beer from our internationally-renowned local brewery, Toppling Goliath.


Dinner(registration required: $25/person)

7:30 pm

Tour of Diane's Garden

Join Seed Savers Exchange co-founder, Diane Ott Whealy, for a tour of her garden.

8:00 pm

(8:00-10:30 pm) Barn Dance with Western Home String Band

Hayride to see Ancient White Park cattle

9:30 pm




Rosalind Creasy

Los Altos, CA

Garden and food writer, photographer and landscape designer with a passion for beautiful vegetables and ecologically sensitive gardening, Ros is a Seed Savers Exchange board member and the author of multiple books, including The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping.

Jovan Sage

Brunswick, GA

Jovan has over 15 years of experience as a grassroots organizer and describes herself as having “a deep interest in food justice.” Her professional résumé includes work as director of community engagement at One Hundred Miles, a Georgia organization working to preserve natural resources, and as the director of network engagement for Slow Food USA, as well as Seed Savers Exchange board member.

John Whitman

All of John Whitman’s gardening knowledge comes from hands-on experience acquired as a professional grower and an avid backyard vegetable gardener for more than 50 years. His book Starting from Scratch: A Guide to Indoor Gardening was a main selection of the Organic Gardening Book Club. He wrote the vegetable section of the Better Homes and Gardens New Garden Book and was the sole author of the Better Homes and Gardens New Houseplants Book. Whitman is the creator and coauthor of the other three volumes in the cold-climate gardening series: Growing Perennials in Cold Climates, Growing Shrubs and Small Trees in Cold Climates, and Growing Roses in Cold Climates.

Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy

Cleveland, OH

This husband-and-wife team founded the Hummingbird Project in 2010, a nonprofit organization dedicated to social justice through ecological regeneration and community empowerment. Their work with the Hummingbird Project focuses on three core programs—The “Living Soil Saves Lives” project working with farmers in rural India; the “Sustainable Schools” initiative in Kenya providing education and infrastructure to impoverished schools; and the “Cleveland Seed Bank” in Ohio facilitating efforts to build a community network of seed savers. Marilyn and Chris have also taught permaculture-design courses and worked on permaculture projects in Thailand, Kenya, India, and the United States.

Rowen White

North San Juan, CA

Rowen is a seed saver, farmer and educator. She is from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and curates an extensive collection of rare northeast native seeds. Rowen is co-founder of the Sierra Seeds Cooperative and Chair of Board for Seed Savers Exchange.

Lee Buttala

Decorah, IA

Executive Director of Seed Savers Exchange, Lee has worked in public horticulture as director of marketing communications for the Berkshire Botanical Garden and as a preservationist for the Garden Conservancy. In addition, he was a television producer for Martha Stewart Living and PBS's Cultivating Life and was co-editor of our award-winning book The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Historic Landscapes Section of the American Public Garden Association and sits on the board of Hollister House Garden.

Getting Here

Heritage Farm is located just outside Decorah, Iowa.

Traveling from farther away? Visitors can fly or ride in to any of the nearby airports or train stations and rent a car to travel to Decorah. You can also make a reservation for airport/strain station pickup or drop off with Decorah's Hometown Taxi.

  • La Crosse, WI Train Station - 53.9 miles
  • La Crosse, WI Airport - 63.1 miles
  • Rochester, MN Airport - 69.8 miles
  • Cedar Rapids, IA Airport - 114.4 miles
  • Minneapolis/St Paul Airport - 148.9 miles

About the Area

Located in the heart of the Driftless region, Decorah and the surround area offer plenty of things to do and see.

Registration Deadline

Please sign up for meals and campsites by July 5th at 11:59 pm. Meals and campsites will not be guaranteed past this time.

Refund/Cancellation Policy

We understand that plans can change. Full refunds are available through July 5th. Refunds are not available after July 5th.


Directions, Parking, Accessibility and Grounds

How do I get there?

Heritage Farm is located just outside Decorah, Iowa.

Visit Us

Where do I park my car?

Parking is available near the Lillian Goldman Visitors Center, as well on our upper campus, 3094 North Winn Road. Signs will direct you to the parking area.

What if I have trouble walking on uneven ground?

There are a number of handicapped-accessible parking spaces near the Lillian Goldman Visitors Center.

Can I bring my pet?

We discourage bringing pets at any time during a Seed Savers Exchange event in consideration of all of our guests. Service animals are allowed.

Food & Camping

Lodging is not guaranteed unless purchased ahead of time.

Is Camping allowed?

Yes. There are spaces for tent camping. Small campers are also allowed. Camping sites are $25 for Friday and Saturday evening. Each site can hold up to 6 people. Camping will be in our Heritage Orchard, so individual fires will not be allowed. However, there will be a communal bonfire on Friday evening on lower campus.

Can I bring my own food and drink?

Yes. Feel free to bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks to the event.

Will food and drink be available for purchase?

  • Saturday lunch and Saturday evening meals must be purchased online by July 5th.
  • Snacks will be available throughout the day Saturday at no charge.
  • Coffee, water, and other non-alcoholic beverages will be available free of charge.
  • Wine and beer will be available for purchase Friday and Saturday evenings.

Will Heritage Farm be open to the public?

Yes, the Lillian Goldman Visitor Center as well as all speakers and tours will be open to the public.