Virtual Conference: July 16-17, 2021.

Schedule & Recorded Videos

Our complete 2021 Conference schedule and recorded sessions are included below.

Welcome - 4 minute video

Join SSE Executive Director Emily Rose Haga as she welcomes us to the 41st annual Seed Savers Exchange conference.


Catalog Trials and Upper Ridge Fields - 2 minute video, 17 minute video & live Q&A

LIVE Q&A 9:30am CDT Friday

Watch SSE Field Coordinators Rochelle Wiedenhoeft and Cody Egan give a short introduction to the growing season so far, enjoy last year's Catalog & Upper Ridge Tour, and join us for a live Q&A session where you can ask all about this year's farm practices and growing experiences here at Heritage Farm.

Pre-registration required to participate in live Q&A

Preservation Lab - 24 minute video

Join us for a tour of the SSE Preservation Lab. Meet the folks charged with caring for the SSE collection, researching histories, and evaluating physical properties of the seeds in our care, and getting these seeds into your hands!

Seed House - 8 minute video

Take a walk through the Seed House, SSE's seed distribution center. This video was taken earlier this year, near the height of the ordering season. Seed House Director John Reynolds will describe the 2021 process of picking, packing, and shipping seeds from the SSE catalog.


Accessing the Heritage Farm Collection - 7 minute video & live Q&A

LIVE Q&A 4:30pm CDT Saturday

The SSE Heritage Farm Collection is the largest non-governmental seed bank in the United States and it’s publicly accessible via the Exchange! Learn how to find and request from over 5,000 varieties of heirloom and historic vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers from the Seed Savers Exchange seed bank. This video will be accompanied by a live Question and Answer Session with Kathryn Gilbery (Exchange and Outreach Coordinator) and Norah Hummel (Seed Bank Manager) where folks will have the opportunity to learn more about the Exchange and the seed bank.

Pre-registration required to participate in live Q&A

RENEW - 7 minute video

Seed Savers Exchange launched our Community Science seed saving program, RENEW, to help meet the challenge of regenerating a large and diverse collection within the confines of Heritage Farm in Northeast Iowa. We welcome volunteers from around the country to aid us in regenerating unique varieties from the collection. This work goes to the heart of our mission to grow, preserve, and share our collective garden heritage. If you are interested in participating in this program after watching the video, please contact Norah Hummel, SSE Seed Bank Manager, at 563-387-5685 or

ADAPT - 13 minute video

SSE's Community Science ADAPT program is a fun and exciting way to get involved in Seed Savers Exchange's mission of preserving and sharing our food crop heritage. Participants in this program trial varieties from our seed bank and send us feedback on their performance. This information helps us better understand the adaptability of these varieties to different environments and guides our selection process for new introductions into our seed catalog. Join SSE's Evaluation & Trials Manager, Steffen Mirsky, as he gives us a tour of the SSE ADAPT trials and introduces us to the information to be found on the SeedLinked online data collection platform. If you are interested in participating in this program after watching the video, please contact Steffen Mirsky at or (563) 382-5990 ext 165.

Indigenous Seed Rematriation - 7 minute video

In 2017, Rowen White, Seed Savers Exchange board chair and founder of the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network (ISKN), approached Seed Savers Exchange to participate in the ISKN Seed Rematriation program, an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. Seed rematriation addresses the desire for Indigenous communities to actively reclaim their ancestral seeds and traditions. Seed Savers Exchange supports Indigenous communities by rematriating seeds in the collection to their cultures of origin, with which they can practice sustainable, sovereign, environmentally and socially responsible agriculture. In 2020, the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research Education program funded through USDA-NIFA awarded a grant to Seed Savers Exchange to collaborate with three Indigenous farmers -- Jessika Greendeer (Dream of Wild Health), Rebecca Webster (Oneida Nation), and Shelley Buffalo (Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative) -- to rematriate seeds for their communities to grow and share.

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2019-38640-29879 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number ONC20-071. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Join us for our live keynote with Rowen White Saturday, at 6pm CDT


At-Home Seed Processing - 35 minute video (Repost from 2020 Virtual Conference) & live Q&A

LIVE Q&A 10:30am CDT Friday

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.

Pre-registration required to participate in live Q&A

Crowdbreeding Approach to New Open Pollinated Tomatoes: The Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project - Live presentation

LIVE SESSION 11:30am CDT Friday

Download slide deck

This colorful, info-packed workshop will tell the ongoing story of a unique, collaborative breeding project that began as an idea between two gardening friends in 2005. Combining the short stature of determinate varieties (such as Taxi and Southern Night) and the gradual, season long fruiting of indeterminate varieties (such as Cherokee Purple and Brandywine), dwarf growing tomatoes - a distinct genetic type known since the mid 1800s but never fully developed until now - fulfill an important niche for great tasting, interesting looking tomatoes that can be grown in smaller containers on patios, decks and driveways, thus expanding tomato joy to space-challenged gardeners everywhere. Craig LeHoullier will talk about how he and his team produced the 133 (and counting) new, stable varieties, covering some interesting and basic tomato genetics and processes that could lead to your own tomato breeding project. Be sure to bring all of your questions.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

Bud Grafting - 15 minute video (Repost from 2020 Virtual Conference) & live Q&A

LIVE Q&A 4:30pm CDT Friday

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

Pre-registration required to participate in live Q&A

Preserving your family's ornamentals from vegetative propagation - 42 minute video & live Q&A

LIVE Q&A 10:30am CDT Saturday

Here at SSE, we talk a lot about vegetable seeds, but flowers are important too! In addition to the seeds we have in our care, we also have plants that are vegetatively propagated such as potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, alliums, and apples. Do you have ornamental plants in your family that you'd like to pass along as heirlooms for generations? Join orchardist and nurseryman, Lindsay Lee, in this session to learn just how easy vegetative propagation can be - and bring your questions!

Pre-registration required to participate in live Q&A

Seed Germination - 30 minute video & recorded Q&A (Repost from 2020 Virtual Conference)

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


Sweet Connections: Two Preservationists Share Their Sweet Potato Story - Live presentation

LIVE SESSION 3:30pm CDT Friday

Join us in a conversation all about sweet potatoes with two preservation advocates, Glenn Drowns of Sand Hill Preservation in Calamus, Iowa and George McLaughlin Jr. of Homesteading Edu and the new Sweet Potato Network in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Glenn and George became acquainted in the mid-80s when they both began sharing seeds on the Exchange and, since then, have helped home gardeners access the full scope of diversity that sweet potatoes have to offer.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

The Power of a Story: Fortna White Pumpkin - 8 minute video & live Q&A

LIVE SESSION 11:30am CDT Saturday

Join the SSE Seed Histories Team to hear about the power of a seed story. Through the story of Sue Ellen Majer, we learn about the Fortna White pumpkin and what it means to her family. In this live Q&A session, learn about our Seed Histories Team as they discuss how seeds hold different meanings for everyone, answer your questions about the "how and why" seed stories are so powerful, and explore the many reasons why we save and share seed stories.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

Community Seed Panel: Amplifying Impact Through Connection & Collaboration - 60 minute live panel

LIVE SESSION 3:30pm CDT Saturday

What does it take to create community? Why is collaboration important? What are the challenges and rewards of working together towards a common goal? Join this panel of community seed activists and leaders to discuss how to build community through seed, how to stay inspired through difficult times, and what it means to be a seed community.

Host: SSE Education & Engagement Manager, Jeanine Scheffert

Panelists: Ira Wallace, Kellee Matsushita-Tseng, Chris Smith, Melissa DeSa, Phil Kauth

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

Seed Stories

Jacob's Cattle Bean: An Un-Common Bean - Live presentation with Q&A

LIVE SESSION 2:30pm CDT Friday

Beans dishes have always been intended to feed many bellies and to be made in quantities enjoyed in more than one sitting. Please join Kristen Loria, Eric Bishop-von-Wettberg, Heron Breen, and SSE Executive Director Emily Rose Haga for another helping from the baked bean pot! In this round-the-table telling of the tall tales and adventures that one un-common bean "Jacob's Cattle" has accumulated, we meet unusual people, discover challenges to historical narratives, imagine a disease resistant future, and revisit a founding impetus for the seed collection at Seed Savers Exchange.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

A Seed Story: Debbie Premus - Live presentation with Q&A

LIVE SESSION 2:30pm CDT Saturday

View Debbie's seed exchange profile

Seed Savers Exchange recently accepted a generous donation of Russian heirloom varieties from seed saver Debbie Premus. Join Debbie as she shares a piece of her extraordinary journey towards becoming the seed steward she is today. Debbie’s interest in Slavic languages as a second generation Slavic American led her to visit Russia as a teenager just a few months before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Learn how this life-changing event connected her to these varieties through her host Irina during the summer she spent in Moscow.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

Lorenzo Trussoni Safflower - 14 minute video

In 2015, Marylin Leum donated seed of her family's safflower to Seed Savers Exchange and shared its fascinating history. Learn about the Lorenzo Trussoni Heirloom safflower and its journey from Fraciscio, Italy to the area of Genoa, Wisconsin. Watch to see how the signature risotto it was used in evolved to become uniquely Midwestern, and learn how we grew this safflower for seed here at Heritage Farm in 2019.

Partner Projects and Keynote Presentations

The Cooperative Gardens Commission - Live presentation with Q&A

LIVE SESSION 1:00pm CDT Friday

The Cooperative Gardens Commission (CGC) sprang up just days after the Covid-19 pandemic forced us all into quarantine. Composed of organic and small-scale seed professionals, activists, gardeners and farmers, CGC's all-volunteer organizers launched a free seed distribution project that reached tens of thousands of people in 2020 and 2021, with a focus on supporting local projects in historically oppressed and marginalized communities. Initiator Nate Kleinman will discuss how CGC formed, how his experience in grassroots disaster relief influenced its consensus-based decision-making and organizational structure, and ethical considerations at play throughout the process, from racial justice to seed ethics.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

The Heirloom Collard Project - Live presentation with Q&A

LIVE SESSION 6:00pm CDT Friday

Join Chris Smith, Ira Wallace, Melissa DeSa, and Norah Hummel to learn more about the collaborative Heirloom Collard Project! The Heirloom Collard Project aims to build a coalition of seed stewards, gardeners, farmers, chefs and seed companies working to preserve heirloom collards and their culinary heritage. Learn about how the project began, how it thrived during the pandemic, and where we are headed in the future.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

Second Generation Seeds: Cultivating relationships within the Asian diaspora - Live presentation with Q&A

LIVE SESSION 1:00pm CDT Saturday

In this presentation, Kristyn Leach will highlight Second Generation Seeds, a farmer collaborative working to preserve, adapt and build upon the traditions and agricultural wisdom of Asian plants and peoples. We will explore our partnership with Seed Savers Exchange, and examine how our ability to look at, contextualize and understand the past, informs and strengthens our abilities to foster imaginative futures.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

Seed Rematriation: Creating Cross-Cultural Partnerships - Live presentation with Q&A

LIVE SESSION 6:00pm CDT Saturday

Here at Seed Savers Exchange, we are increasingly asked how we've set up successful cross-cultural partnerships. Two of our key answers are that we have a trusted liaison to initiate the process and we "move at the speed of trust." SSE board chair and Indigenous activist Rowen White has been key in initiating some of our important partnerships and we are honored to have her discuss this process with us today.

In 2017, Rowen White, Seed Savers Exchange board chair and founder of the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network (ISKN), approached Seed Savers Exchange to participate in the ISKN Seed Rematriation program, an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. Seed Rematriation addresses the desire for Indigenous communities to actively reclaim their ancestral seeds and traditions. Seed Savers Exchange supports Indigenous communities by rematriating seeds currently in the SSE collection to their cultures of origin, with which Indigenous communities can practice sustainable, sovereign, environmentally and socially responsible agriculture.

Pre-registration required to participate in live session

After Hours Community Building

Open Mic: Poetry, Music, Art, Spoken Word - Live session

LIVE SESSION 7:15pm CDT Friday

Bring your poem, story, art, song, recipe, dance - we want to see and hear it! Sign up ahead to be guaranteed a sharing spot, or show up to watch and decide to share in the moment. We look forward to seeing you there!

Reserve a sharing spot

Pre-registration required to participate in live session. This session will not be recorded.

Exchange Community Social Hour - Live session

LIVE SESSION 7:15pm CDT Saturday

Join this social hour to share stories and hear from folks sharing and requesting seeds via the Exchange. All are welcome! Seed Savers Exchange has facilitated the Exchange since 1975, in which time thousands of people have contributed to a more resilient food and garden landscape by sharing their homegrown seeds and plants. Many more have tapped into this rich and diverse bounty by requesting varieties to grow in their homes and communities. Come to share your experience or just to listen and meet passionate Exchangers from around the world!

Pre-registration required to participate in live session. This session will not be recorded.

After Hours Seed Savers Exchange Member Meet-Up - Live session

LIVE SESSION 7:15pm CDT Saturday

Join in to hear from fellow SSE members about what membership has meant to them, and from your membership team about how to make the most of your benefits. Members only! (If you’re not already a member, it’s one of many good reasons to join today!)

Pre-registration required to participate in live session. This session will not be recorded.

Keynote Speakers

Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a seed saver and grower who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate diversity in food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020 and he co-hosts The Okra Pod Cast. More info at and

The Utopian Seed Project

Chris Smith
The Okra Pod Cast:

Rowen White

Rowen White

Rowen is a seed keeper, farmer and educator. She is from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and curates an extensive collection of northeast native seeds. Rowen is Seed Savers Exchange board chair, co-founder of the Sierra Seeds Cooperative, and founder of the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance.

Melissa DeSa

Melissa DeSa

Melissa is a co-founder of Working Food, a non-profit organization based in Gainesville, Florida. She is a University of Florida graduate, with a Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Ecology. Her background and passion for wildlife and wild places has brought depth of knowledge and understanding to her current nonprofit work tackling food systems. She has 10 years of experience in nonprofit start up and management, community organizing, food systems, seed stewardship, gardening, farming, education and outreach.

Her work focuses on making seed stewardship and youth education accessible and community-oriented. Her efforts to promote agricultural biodiversity through seed stewardship and outreach focus primarily on working with family farmers, under- privileged youth, and adults with disabilities. She has built Working Food’s Southern Heritage Seed Collective organically over 10 years, growing it from a small seed library to a thriving community program providing classes, workshops, trainings, regional seed varieties, and collaborative work on seed systems projects with regional and national partners.

She currently serves on the advisory board for both Southern SARE, the Southeast Slow Food Ark of Taste, and Grow Hub.

Ira Wallace

Ira Wallace is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange which offers over 700 varieties of open-pollinated heirloom and organic seeds selected for flavor and regional adaptability. Ira serves on the boards of the Organic Seed Alliance, and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming. She is a member of Acorn Community which farms over 60 acres of certified organic land in Central Virginia. Ira is a cofounder of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, a fun, family-friendly event featuring an old-time seed swap, local food, hands-on workshops and demos, and more. She also writes about heirloom vegetables and seed saving for magazines and blogs including Mother Earth News, Fine Gardening and Southern Exposure. She is author of the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast. Her new state specific book series including, Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia, are available online and at booksellers everywhere

Kristyn Leach

Kristyn Leach is a farmer in California's Central Valley. As part of Second Generation Seeds, she grows predominantly Korean and East Asian crops, using natural farming methods.

Nate Kleinman

Nate Kleinman is a New Jersey-based farmer, activist, and organizer. He has been involved in efforts including the Sudan Freedom Walk, Witness for Peace, Occupy Wall Street, and Occupy Sandy. Nate serves on the Executive Board of the Philadelphia Orchard Project and Grassroots Seed Network. He is a member of the Seed Advisory Committee of the Non-GMO Project and the Education Committee of the NOFA-NJ. He co-founded the Experimental Farm Network in 2013 to facilitate collaboration on plant breeding and agroecology research, and started the process that led to the Cooperative Gardens Commission at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a plant breeder and researcher, Nate has a broad range of interests, but is most engaged in pursuing climate-stabilizing perennial staple crops.

Norah Hummel

Norah Hummel is the Seed Bank Manager at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA. Norah graduated from the University of Washington, obtaining a degree in Environmental Science and Resource Management. Norah’s interest in sustainable agriculture grew while co-managing the University of Washington’s urban farm. Since joining the SSE Heritage Farm team in 2016, Norah has contributed to the seed regeneration efforts and evaluation of hundreds of vegetable varieties. Today she manages the seed resources at Heritage Farm by prioritizing seed for regeneration and curating the collection’s 20,000 accessions. She also manages the RENEW program partnering with growers across the country to regenerate varieties from the collection. Norah is inspired by the Seed Savers Exchange mission to provide open access heirloom and historic varieties to the public.

Presenters & Panelists

Craig LeHoullier

Craig LeHoullier

A Rhode Island native, Craig LeHoullier caught the gardening passion from his grandfather, Walter, and dad, Wilfred. Craig achieved his PhD in chemistry at Dartmouth College, which resulted in a 25 year career in pharmaceuticals that ended in 2008.

Craig's gardening obsession, which started the year he and Susan were married (and their first garden, in 1981), is passing through several stages. His love of heirloom tomatoes began with his joining the Seed Savers Exchange, an organization for which he continues to serve as adviser for tomatoes, in 1986. He is responsible for naming and popularizing many well known tomatoes, such as Cherokee Purple.

In 2005 he added amateur tomato breeding to his garden resume, and continues to co-lead the Dwarf Tomato Breeding project, responsible for creating 125 (and counting) new compact growing varieties for space-challenged gardeners. His writing career kicked off with a 2012 request from Storey Publishing to write a book on tomatoes, resulting in Epic Tomatoes (2015). His second book, Growing Vegetables in Straw bales, soon followed (2016). Book 3, focusing on the Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project, is in progress as a self-published creation.

Craig is a popular lecturer across the country at major gardening events, as well as a frequent guest on podcasts and radio shows. His current and upcoming projects include a self-published garden cookbook, a weekly Instagram Live each Friday at 3 PM Eastern from his garden, and additional opportunities on podcasts, webinars and speaking opportunities, as they arise.

Kellee Matsushita-Tseng

Kellee Matsushita-Tseng

Kellee is a Yonsei, 4th gen queer japanese-chinese american, living and farming on unceded territory of the Awas-was speaking Uypi-tribe, currently stewarded by the Amah Mutsun tribal band. Kellee’s work focuses on building seed sovereignty as a means of cultivating community power and platform for working towards collective liberation. Kellee works with a collective of AAPI farmers and organizers across the West Coast, called Second Generation Seeds, which focuses on preserving, improving and breeding crops significant to Asian American communities. Kellee has over a decade of experience working in community, with a background in anti-penalty work, youth empowerment, worker rights organizing and community education, and organizing bipoc farmers. Kellee is currently the assistant manager of the farm garden at the UCSC Farm, serves on the board of directors at the National Young Farmers Coalition, and is a farmer member of the Asian American Farmers Alliance.

George McLaughlin

George McLaughlin

George McLaughlin Jr. was raised in a gardening home, both parents happily raising, cooking and preserving food from their yard. Everyone in the family had responsibility in the yard and garden and enjoyed the fruit of their labors. George never even questioned whether or not he’d garden when he left home; that was his way of life!

Married at the age of 22, George and his wife Jerreth share a love of the Lord and interests in raising their own food and creating a resilient lifestyle. They have had a garden every year of their marriage. While in grad school, George heard about the Seed Savers Exchange. This discovery coincided with a deepening interest in seed saving, propagation of old and rare cultivars and preservation. His first copy of the Yearbook had Glenn Drown’s picture on the cover and that year, George and Glenn struck up a friendship which would extend over decades.

For nearly 14 years, George and Jerreth served in missions in Central Mexico, during which time they focused on food production and encountered quite a few Mexican varieties of sweet potato, which they had to leave behind, on account of phytosanitary laws. When they moved back to the USA in 2001, Glenn helped them regain Red Wine Velvet and a few other varieties they had left behind. Some years later, George became acquainted with Gary Schaum, another sweet potato preservationist and aficionado. He, Glenn and George have collaborated quite a bit in the area of sweet potato culture and varieties. They try, alternately, to lose varieties, so they can get them back from one another!

Eric von Wettberg

Eric von Wettberg

Eric von Wettberg is an associate professor of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont, director of UVM’s Graduate Program in Food Systems, and a member of UVM’s Consortium for Crop Genetic Heritage. He is motivated to preserve and protect crop genetic diversity, and to understand the processes by which wild plants were domesticated to become the crops we now cherish. As a conservation geneticist working to preserve genetic diversity of legume crops, his research uses a combination of laboratory, greenhouse, and field approaches. Working in the legacy of the great crop geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov, many of Eric’s recent projects have supported international crop genebanks by exploring and adding to the genetic diversity held in their collections. In recent years Eric has been supporting efforts by the Abenaki of Vermont to conserve and celebrate their heirloom crops, and work by resettled refugee farmers to develop culturally significant crop varieties that are better adapted to Vermont.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Debbie Premus

Debbie Premus of Lebanon, Ohio--a long-time member of SSE--has an MS in Biological Sciences from Wright State University. Debbie is a remarkable seed collector and an exceptionally active member of the Exchange with over 140 varieties listed in the 2021 Yearbook. As a second generation Slavic American, she is particularly interested in Eastern European heirlooms. For 30 years, Debbie has been stewarding several heirloom varieties she brought to the United States from a trip to Russia a few months before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The seeds were a special gift from Irina Bagmout's, her host during the summer she spent in Moscow. Irina learned Debbie had an interest in gardening and seed saving and put together for her a package containing seed samples of varieties she grew at her dacha in Bryansk.

Eduardo Fernandez Medina

Eduardo Fernandez Medina is one of two assistant seed historians at Seed Savers Exchange. With an ethnographic and historical research background, Eduardo documents and organizes information for writing seed histories and narratives, is responsible for vetting new donations and assisting new donors in the onboarding process, and uses his skills and passion for building relationships with donors to learn about the seeds they cherish. Eduardo holds a BA in Anthropology and Archaeology and MA in Applied Cultural Anthropology.

Heron Breen

Heron Breen resides in Central Maine, and grows seed & breeds plants at multiple fields & isolation plots. During a long serious illness in his early 20s, Heron sought solace in the farmwork on a friend's farm. Even though a youth growing up on a back-to-the-land homestead had given him plenty of chances to know plants, it wasn't until a day picking beans and talking out his worries to the plants that Heron discovered their friendship. He went home that evening much less stressed than when he arrived that morning on the farm....and that has made all the difference. Heron continues a 20+ year career in Seed, and serves on the board of the Organic Seed Alliance.

Kathryn Gilbery

Kathryn is enamored with all things gardening and culinary, which makes Seed Savers Exchange the perfect place for her to work! Kathryn coordinates the Exchange (SSE’s gardener-to-gardener seed swap), the Seed Trade Census, and leads tours and workshops throughout the year.

Kristen Loria

Kristen recently graduated with a M.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Cornell University, where her research focused on developing dry beans adapted for regional food systems in the Northeast. She currently works in the Sustainable Cropping Systems Lab at Cornell and grows staple crops at Lo Rida Farm in Danby, NY.

Susana Cabrera-Mariz

Susana Cabrera-Mariz, Assistant Seed Historian at Seed Savers Exchange, works to research the existing SSE Collection. Susana was trained in agroecological principles from the renowned Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Rogue Farm Corps. Susana holds a Bachelor of Science in Restoration Ecology and Resource Management from San Jose State University and utilizes her early career experiences in municipal water, project management, and information technology security to inform and guide her work.

Glenn Drowns

Glenn Drowns has been contributing to the genetic preservation of open-pollinated vegetables and heritage poultry for 40 years. He is actively stewarding 2,500 unique varieties, including over 200 sweet potatoes; accessible to the public via the Sand Hill Preservation Center, which he co-operates with his wife, Linda. The majority of these varieties and breeds are not available from any other vendor in the United States. Additionally, Glenn has donated over 600 varieties to the Seed Savers Exchange seed bank for long term preservation, developed the widely popular 'Blacktail Mountain' watermelon, and is inspiring the next generation of preservationists as an educator. Learn more about Glenn on his website,