Godmother of The Heirloom Collard Project (amongst many other things including Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance), Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Mineral VA
Ira Wallace is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (www.SouthernExposure.com) which offers over 700 varieties of open-pollinated heirloom and organic seeds selected for flavor and regional adaptability. Southern Exposure helps people keep control of their food supply by supporting sustainable home and market gardening, seed saving, and preserving heirloom varieties. Ira serves on the boards of the Organic Seed Alliance and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming(VABF). In addition, Ira is a member of Acorn Community which farms over 60 acres of certified organic land in Central Virginia, growing seeds, alliums, hay, and conducting variety trials for Southern Exposure. She is a cofounder of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, a fun, family-friendly event featuring an old-time seed swap, local food, hands-on workshops and demos, and more. She presents at events throughout the southeast. She currently writes about heirloom vegetable varieties for magazines and blogs including Mother Earth News, Fine Gardening and Southern Exposure. She also conducts variety trials for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange as well as researching and documenting the history of varieties offered in the annual catalog. Her book, The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, and new state specific book series including, Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia, , are available online and at booksellers everywhere.
Ira is currently working on creating an African Diasporic Seed Collection.
A legacy project for the 70 yr-old seed saver, organic farmer and heirloom seed pioneer who is inspired by the work of Leah Penniman and the folks at Soul Fire Farm. This will be a collection that honors and tells the stories of seeds that have been historically grown by and represent a part of the story of food and farming for black and brown people across the African Diaspora. This project would highlight seed savers in communities of color while creating learning centers and distribution networks that are generated collaboratively by seed farmers in our community. We have the “seeds” of this work already through Southern Exposure, Truelove Seeds, Sankofa Farms, Landreth Seed Company, and the Homowo African Heritage Seed Collection. How can we help to deepen and widen this work to honor the seeds sacred to Black people and get these seeds in the hands on the next generation of farmers? How can we collaborate so as not to duplicate one another’s work or compete? So the beginnings of this project are to reach out and learn from folks who are already rooted in black and brown communities. Ira wants to know more about what is already happening and look for ways that to cooperate and best use her energy and the resources of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange to create synergies with others.