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Soil, Conservation and Place -- Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

In this interview, Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE) shares about the history of the worker-owned cooperative in Louisa County, Virginia. Ira explains the importance of narratives, nourishing ourselves, caring for history, and how care of the land and growing food is a noble profession. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is located on a 72-acre farm which includes goats, chickens, hayfields, an herb garden, and extensive vegetable gardens for seed production, trialing, and eating. The cooperative offers 800 plus varieties of vegetable, flower, herb, grain and cover crop seeds that will perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast but also can be adapted to other regions of the country. As of 2017, over 60% of the varieties SESE offer are Certified Organic, and over 60% are grown by small and mid-sized farmers. Ira and her colleagues continue to keep economic and environmental justice at the forefront of their farming and business structure.

 

Introduction to Soil, Conservation, and Place

This educational project aims to deepen community understanding of the importance of agriculture and soils to a sense of place, community, and culture. The project highlights the distinct voices and diverse farms of Virginia’s agricultural community who are protecting and conserving soil and water resources through a narrative inquiry framework.  

The project is generously funded and supported by a community viability grant from Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education and the Agua Fund.

 

The project team includes Eric Bendfeldt, Mike Parrish, Kim Niewolny, Wade Thomason, and Maureen McGonagle from Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

 

The project team especially wants to thank the participating farmers for sharing their time, experiences, and insights with us and the broader community.