39th Annual Conference
& Campout

July 19 & 20, 2019

The 2019 Conference & Campout has concluded; thanks to everyone who attended, for making this year's event a success. Please join us in July, 2020 for the 40th annual Conference & Campout.

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


FREE Registration

All ages

Meals and camping not included


Limited quantity available—register now.

$15 Saturday lunch ( )

$25 Saturday dinner ( )


Registration required

$30/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 and 9-11 am Saturday


Terra Chips
Organic Valley
Albert Lea Seed
Grizzly Coolers


Schedule is subject to change

Friday, July 19

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, and 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 20

9:30 am

Welcome by Seed Savers Exchange Cofounder, Diane Ott Whealy

10:00-10:45 am

Speaker Jill Bishop - Adventures of an Urban Seed Farmer: Cultivating Diversity & Resilience in Our Local Seed Systems

More than ever, people are growing food in cities. Growing seeds adapted to these spaces can help urban agriculture thrive. Selecting for unique microclimates, soil conditions, dense plantings, changing climates, and even rooftops encourages diversity and abundance in our local seed systems. Learn how urban seed-saving initiatives can provide unique isolation benefits as well as inspiration and opportunities for a greater diversity of community members to engage in seed saving.

(10:00-11:00 am) Evaluation Garden Tour

Learn about some of the unique varieties we are evaluating this year and how these plantings help us manage our collection.

Hayrides 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.

10:45-11:30 am

Exciting New Projects & Partnerships at Seed Savers Exchange

  • Community Seed Network: A New Way to Connect
  • ADAPT & SeedLinked.com: A Dynamic Web Platform & Our Citizen Science Program
  • Historic Orchard Campaign: Revitalizing & Preserving America’s Apple Heritage

(10:45 am-12:15 pm) Hayrides to North Ridge Gardens

Take a hayride to the best view of Heritage Farm. Learn about collection regenerations, evaluation gardens, and catalog productions. Take the opportunity to ask questions about our field operations, and learn about how and why we grow certain crops.

(11:00 am-12:15pm) Vegetable Tasting

Taste varieties we are growing in our evaluation garden.

11:30 am-12:15 pm

Speaker Joel Bramhall: Future-Focused Learning for Growing Self-Reliant Communities

Learn how the only botanic garden with an on-site public school is engaging the next generation in garden-based learning. Discover how a myriad of hands-on experiences in growing heirloom vegetables, maintaining organic compost, and taking part in additional nature-based activities has produced encouraging results ripe for replication in your community.

12:15-1:15 pm

Lunch (limited quantity available—register now: $15/person)

1:15-2:15 pm

Speaker Julie Dawson: Seed to Kitchen: Prioritizing Flavor in Variety Development for the Upper Midwest

The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative connects plant breeders focused on organic systems to farmers and chefs in the Upper Midwest in an effort to create delicious, well-adapted vegetable varieties for local organic production. Discover how this collaboration presents a unique opportunity to focus on vegetable variety characteristics important to local food systems, such as flavor, fresh-market quality, and performance on smaller-scale diversified farms.

Historic Orchard Tour

Tour SSE’s Historic Orchard with orchardist Lindsay Lee. Learn about our vast apple collection, the history of this beautiful orchard, and plans for its restoration.

2:15-2:30 pm


2:30-3:30 pm

Speaker Sean Sherman: The (R)evolution of Indigenous Food Systems of North America

Through his research over the last seven years, Sean Sherman has uncovered the foundations of the Indigenous food systems. He began this process by looking at the regional differences and diversity of foods throughout North America. This search informed his understanding of the evolution of Native American foods and cooking techniques, and helped him apply traditional practices to modern life.

3:30-3:45 pm


3:45-4:45 pm

Speaker John Coykendall: Saving Appalachia’s Seeds

For nearly four decades, John Coykendall’s passion has been preserving Appalachian varieties and garden heritage, searching for rare or almost-forgotten heirloom seeds with the promise that he’ll take good care of them for future generations. He preserves newly acquired varieties and their stories with a method he refers to as “memory banking,” filling countless moleskine notebooks with details of each story and beautifully rendered sketches of the seeds and the people who grew them, with hopes of preserving their heritage. John distributes many of these seeds and stories via the Exchange, offering upwards of 100 varieties some years. He has also given dozens of varieties to the Seed Savers Exchange seed bank for safekeeping. “This stuff can’t be lost,” he says, “not on my watch.” Discover what inspires this tireless seed steward.

4:45-5:00 pm


5:00-6:00 pm

True-to-Type: Varieties and Their Stories

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

6:00 pm

Cash Bar Opens

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

6:15 pm

Dinner(limited quantity available—register now: $25/person)

7:15 pm

I Love Ice Cream: A Special Birthday Celebration

7:30 pm

Tour of Diane's Garden

Join Seed Savers Exchange cofounder, Diane Ott Whealy, for a tour of her garden.

(7:30-8:30 pm) Hayride to North Ridge

8:00-10:30 pm

Barn Dance with Western Home String Band

9:30 pm



Jill Bishop

Peterborough, Ontario

Joel Bramhall

Oklahoma City, OK

Julie Dawson

Madison, WI

Sean Sherman

Minneapolis, MN

John Coykendall

Knoxville, TN

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

Campsites, Saturday lunch, and Saturday evening meals must be purchased in advance. There are only a limited nubmber of meals left—please register now.

Refund/Cancellation Policy

We understand that plans can change. Full refunds are available through July 3rd. Refunds are not available after July 3rd.


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 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 $30 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 RV?

Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate RV parking or camping.

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 in advance. There are only a limited nubmber of meals left—please register now.
  • Snacks will be available for purchase inside our Lillian Goldman Visitors Center.
  • 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.