2013 Conference and Campout Slideshow

With nearly 400 attendees from across the U.S. and beyond, the 33rd Annual Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout was a huge success. Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) members are passionate about what they do, and events like this are important for networking, seed swapping, and sharing knowledge. The conference also introduced new seed savers and gardeners to resources, information, and gave many the inspiration to get started.

For the first time ever, Seed Savers Exchange held a Member Field Day on Friday before the conference started. Over 150 members were given behind-the-scenes tours and discussed possibilities for future member engagements with SSE staff and board members. It was a wonderfully productive day that is sure to become a fixture at future SSE Conferences.

Another highlight from the Conference was the distribution of former SSE member Mary Ann Fox’s bean collection. SSE inherited Mary Ann’s enormous seed collection after her passing in February, and successfully distributed the entire collection to seed savers at the Conference who were eager to carry on her legacy. Read about Mary Ann Fox in our blog and in Modern Farmer Magazine, and look to the Harvest edition of our membership publication, The Heritage Farm Companion, for in-depth coverage of both the member field day and the distribution of Mary Ann’s bean collection.



Welcome, seed savers!

Heirloom beans are soaking for the New England-style bean hole. Beans from left to right: Painted Pony, Lina Sisco’s Bird Egg, Runner Cannellini, Calypso, Good Mother Stallard, and Green Flageolet

Conference attendees were eager to swap seeds and to carry on Mary Ann Fox’s bean legacy.

For the first time, Seed Savers Exchange hosted a Member Field Day on Friday before the Conference where they got to go behind the scenes and interact with staff about what goes on at Heritage Farm.

SSE members in the root cellar during the Member Field Day.

It’s difficult to fully take-in the 890-acre Heritage Farm without some experienced tour guides and transportation.

Possibly the best way to see the farm :)

Featured speaker Jack Kloppenburg from the University of Wisconsin-Madison delivered a talk on OSSI, an Open Source Seed Initiative.

A seed catalog exhibit was displayed in the barn loft throughout the weekend.

Many attendees took advantage of on-site camping in the beautiful valleys of Heritage Farm.

Over two dozen workshops were offered throughout the weekend such as Seed Saving 101, Cucurbit Hand Pollination, and Apple Bud Grafting.

The Dig and Discover Youth Conference allowed parents to participate in workshops and attend lectures while the little ones had fun with activities such as making kale chips.

SSE Board Chairman Keith Crotz introduces Orchard Manager Dan Bussey before his hard cider and cyser making workshop.

SSE Co-Founder Diane Ott Whealy gives a tour of her garden, which emphasizes edible landscaping.

Saturday night’s barn dance with Western Home String Band was fun for all ages.

Featured speaker Jeremy Cherfas of Rome, Italy, discussed the history and future of the European Union’s seed regulations.

One popular workshop led attendees in constructing seed screens for cleaning and processing saved seed.

The weather was very cooperative in Northeast Iowa this year, with no rain and high temperatures in the 80’s. Pictured here, attendees relax in the shade as they listen to a lecture on the main stage.

Gary Paul Nabhan, Laura Merrick, and Jack Kloppenburg share a laugh at the seed swap.

Mary Ann Fox’s entire bean collection was successfully distributed to almost 100 attendees who will carry on her legacy by growing, saving, and sharing the beans with others.


Click here to read about the 2014 Conference and Campout set for July 18-20, 2014

Check back on our blog to see more coverage of the 2013 Conference and Campout. Now posted: Gary Paul Nabhan’s keynote address!


Located six miles north of Decorah, Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the preservation and distribution of heirloom seeds.  Seed Savers maintains a collection of thousands of open pollinated varieties, making it one of the largest non-governmental seed banks in the United States.  For more information, go to seedsavers.org

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