Co-Founder/Director of Working Food, Gainesville, FL

Melissa is a non-profit leader, seed steward, artist, educator, and ecologist living in Gainesville, Florida. She is co-founder of the non-profit Working Food and focuses on seeds: research, growing, saving, sharing and outreach. This work is interwoven with other collaborative community efforts that support adults with disabilities, youth, farmers, and the general public. She has 10 years of experience in non-profit start up and management, community organizing, food systems, seed stewardship, gardening, farming, education, outreach, and youth programming. She manages a local seed collection with over 900 accessions and growing. Melissa helped form, organize, and facilitate the emerging Heirloom Collard Project and continues to play a role in keeping it growing and evolving.

Why are collards special?

As a quintessential Southern crop, collards represent so much: history, culture, cuisine, connection, food security, and crop diversity. There’s nothing not to love about them, but for me the best thing is all the meaningful connections they’ve made in my community food work, and all the incredible people I’ve met along the way, and continue to meet who have taught me so much and made my life more abundant.

What’s Your Favorite Way To Eat Collards?

Definitely not the more traditional way, boiled and boiled and boiled some more, but I’d still eat them that way! I’m not super picky, so really any which way they arrive on my plate, I’ll have collards.

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