Oregon plant breeder and author Carol Deppe will be the keynote speaker at the 36th annual Seed Savers Exchange conference July 15 – 17. Deppe holds a PhD in genetics from Harvard University and specializes in developing open source crops for organic growing conditions, sustainable agriculture, and human survival for the next thousand years. Carol is owner of Fertile Valley Seeds, a member of the Open Source Seed Initiative board of directors, and author of Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, The Resilient Gardener, and The Tao of Vegetable Gardening.
Deppe will be joined by other speakers including Southern heirloom experts Dr. David Shields and Glenn Roberts; The French Laundry garden chef Aaron Keefer; and community seed activist Rowen White.
Dr. Shields, professor at the University of South Carolina, is chairman of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation and a noted researcher of early American crops of the South. He has been called “the Indiana Jones of old foodways.” Shields will be joined onstage by Glenn Roberts, founder of Anson Mills, a South Carolina company that mills heirloom grains. Roberts was recently featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown television program.
Aaron Keefer is the head culinary gardener for Chef Thomas Keller’s three-acre garden at The French Laundry, a three-starred Michelin restaurant in Yountville, California. He will share details about the role seeds play in the creation of the restaurant’s nine-course tasting menu.
Rowen White is director and founder of Sierra Seeds, an organic seed cooperative in Nevada City, California. A passionate activist for seed sovereignty, White will discuss the Mohawk Indigenous Seed Restoration project involving her tribal community in northeast United States.
The conference will focus on growing the seed saving movement with how-to workshops on growing, collecting and processing heirloom seeds. Rebecca Newburn of the Richmond Grows Seed Library, botanical explorer Joseph Simcox, gardening guru Ros Creasy, and Bill McDorman of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance will be among the featured workshop leaders.
“The year’s conference features a who’s who of thought leaders in the gardening and heirloom seed movement,” said Diane Ott Whealy, co-founder of Seed Savers Exchange. “And, of course, there will be great food, music and a good old fashioned barn dance.”
To register for the conference, visit www.seedsavers.org/conference or call (563) 382-5990.