The Heirloom Collard Project

A History The HEIRLOOM Collard Project

In 2016 Seed Savers Exchange in collaboration with Ira Wallace at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange requested over 60 varieties from the USDA to trial at Seed Savers Exchange, Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa. These varieties were collected by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan from seed savers across the Southeast, mostly in North and South Carolina. These varieties were identified as rare heirlooms and the intention was to regenerate them and share the seed with seed savers across the country. Only fragments of the full story of these varieties were collected by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan. It is a priority of this project to revisit the original seed savers and learn about these collards’ rich culinary and seed saving histories.

The project has 5 main components

Ira Wallace collard variety trial 2020

Accession preservation

  • On farm regeneration of the varieties in the Seed Savers Exchange heirloom collection
  • Encourage in-situ preservation and adoption of heirloom varieties by seed savers in the South, where the majority of varieties were collected. 

Historical documentation

  • Revisit living seed stewards from the Morgan and Davis collecting project for additional documentation of heirloom histories and food traditions
  • Identify and document new seed stewards and promote their work
Yellow Cabbage Collards

Education and engagement

  • Create community between new and old seed stewards by creating a mentorship program
  • Create and support regional seed swaps
  • Build a network of effective seed stewards across the USA
  • Use community science programs to trial varieties 

Catalog Promotion

  • Encourage and provide seed stock to other seed companies to sell and promote heirloom collard varieties 
  • to attract more gardeners, farmers, and seed stewards
  • Feature heirloom collard varieties in the Seed Savers Exchange and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange catalogs to distribute these varieties more widely
Ira Wallace Cooking Collards

Food traditions 

  • Create link between seed saving and food traditions by publishing recipes and highlighting restaurants and cooks through our website, social media, and other platforms
  • Build partnerships with restaurants, chefs, and food activists to promote and celebrate collard culinary traditions

This project is run by a collaboration of organizing partners and collard lovers. Learn more and support their organizations:

seed savers exchange logo