Appalachian Seed Growers Collective

The Appalachian Seed Growers Collective

In 2022, while working on some field trials for The Utopian Seed Project, Leeza Chen and Chris Smith were casually discussing common topics such as the impending apocalypse; the consolidated global seed industry; the destructive nature of groundhogs and goats; the economic challenges of growing seed in the south and, directly related, the extreme lack of seed growers in the south. 

“What we need is a local seed growers collective,” said Leeza.

“We can do that,” said Chris. 

ENTER Shelby Johnson (friend, farmer, farm organizer, and sorghum whisperer) with a serendipitous grant opportunity, which we applied for and received (Thank You CERES Foundation). The grant funded shared seed processing equipment within the collective and organizational funds to get the idea off the ground.

ENTER a group of awesome regional farmers interested in growing seeds, or already saving and growing seeds.

By the end of 2022 and into 2023 we were gathering with regional farmers with an interest in seeds. Over many meetings we set intentions and discussed values and shared pizza and are on a beautiful journey towards working out what a regional seed collective can and should look like. 

We want regional farmers to grow regionally adapted or important seeds to be grown by regional farmers and gardeners. We are focused on Southern Appalachia, but believe our seeds will do well across the Southeast.

Things that are important to us:

  • Regionally Adapted – our seeds have been grown and saved in place for at least three years by farmers in the region.
  • Regionally Important – as a regional seed collective, we are open to growing and stewarding seeds that have regional historic or cultural significance. 
  • Seed Grower Community – we want to create community and opportunities for people to become seed growers in Southern Appalachia, including new farmers. 
  • Seed Grower Economics – as a collective, we are advocating for better seed contract prices and terms for our collective and sharing the economic risks of growing seeds. 
  • Valuing Land and Labor – our internal economics pays growers for their time and land use in growing seeds, not for the quantity of seeds they produce. This eliminates inherent risks in growing seeds and varietal variations in yield, allowing growers to select for quality over quantity.

2023 saw a collective grow along and resulted in 10 seed varieties being grown out by local farmers. We are offering SEVEN of them below for a limited online packet sale. Your seed purchasing directly supports the work of the collective and is very much appreciated in these early stages!    

Farmer Bulk Seed

Dear Farmers,

We love you and want to support you (we are farmers ourselves!). We are working on the challenge of growing enough seed to support farmer quantities so that it’s economical for everyone. At the moment we are setting up an inter-collective seed share so that by growing seeds for the collective you’ll have access to seeds from the collective. If you’re interested in joining our Southern Appalachian seed collective then reach out via the form below.

In 2023 we were fortunate enough to produce surplus seeds of some of our varieties:

  • Living Web Ventura Celery – 4g at $25

For all bulk seed inquiries, please fill out the form below.

The Appalachian Seed Growers Collective