The Utopian Seed Project

Celebrating diversity in food and farming through crop and variety trials in the Southeast.

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The Utopian Seed Project is a hands in the earth non-profit committed to trialing crops and varieties in the Southeast to support diversity in food and farming. Our utopian vision is to create an engaged network of growers, gardeners, farmers, foodies, cooks and chefs to help educate and celebrate this diversity. We are based in Asheville, NC and are working towards an overarching vision to create food sovereignty in the face of climate change through diverse and regenerative agriculture. 

Crop Trial Focus Areas

Exploring Varietal Diveristy in Southern Crops

We are conducting crop variety trials for traditional southern crops to explore the diversity on offer. It’s exciting to realize that the genetic diversity within many crops can give us culinary and climate resilient opportunities.

Tropical Perennials Grown As Temperate Annuals

We are experimenting with growing crops that are native to the tropics, but with some additional care can thrive and provide diverse food in our region. This is an exciting area of crop research with some incredible culinary and potential.

Promoting Underutilized Edibles as Food Crops

We are growing and assessing some of the many wild, native and underutlized food crops yet to be explored or fully appreciated. With some simple selection or breeding work, many of these crops could offer great culinary promise.

The Peoples Seed Logo

 In 2020, The People’s Seed joined forces with The Utopian Seed Project. The People’s Seed is the legacy organization of a legendary seed and farming advocate, Tony Kleese. Tony recognized the need to develop a new system for a fair and open seed industry to ensure a sustainable, climate adapted food system for the future. Learn more about our ongoing work HERE.

What's growing in your office?


28 0

Cassava is sprouting. We're growing this for board member Brandon Ruiz (@yucayekefarms) who sadly lost access to his farm land this year. Looking forward to getting to know this plant, which is important to so many regions of the world.

#cassava #yuca #manihot

37 1

We built a mega trellis, now I'm just hoping the groundhog doesn't eat the #ube again. Dioscorea alata aka true yams (we have purple and white) can vine 20ft in a season. This trellis spans two rows, so hopefully we'll have a beautiful yam tunnel in a few months.

#bamboo #yams #tusptrueyam
#trueyams #bambootrellis #trellis #farming

103 9

#Repost @wncmagazine (@get_repost)
With @utopianseedproject , James Beard Award-winning author Chris Smith spearheads an effort that tackles the climate crisis through crop diversity.

Photo courtesy of The Utopian Seed Project
#utopianseedproject #wnc #wncmagazine #wncmag #climate #crops #CropDiversity #seedsofchange

57 0

Very excited to have Alina from @soulandsoilproject visit the farm. They are doing amazing work around responsible land stewardship, growing food, perennial food systems, community and education.

I'm excited that they will be growing about forty varieties from our okra trial as a research backup. We're excited for their community to experience this varietal diversity and to eat a lot of okra this year!

We are stronger and more effective in community and collaboration 💚

#communitysupported #okra #experimentalfarm #okratrials #varietaldiversity #varietytrials

58 2

Chayote (aka Mirliton) going in the ground today. It's awesome to work with such a large seed!! We're also growing a bunch from cuttings to try and kick up the diversity in our population. Vines, leaves and fruit are all edible. In it's native regions of Central America the plant can over winter and the roots become large enough to eat like potatoes. So basically the entire crop is edible 💚

#chayote #mirliton #squashfamily

81 5

This is what 121 varieties of okra look like in the back of a truck! Just wait until they all grow up 💚

#okra #tuspokra #farming #okratrials #varietytrials

Thanks to @southernexposureseed for sponsoring @lovesomegreen to come grow okra with us for a season (with support from @row7seeds and the @nellnewman Foundation).

104 3

Thanks to a partnership with Michael Fortune, we get to test out farm scale plantings and seed crops at Bob Lackey's farm in Mars Hill. We planted a 200 ft of taro, 100 ft of yacon, two varieties of Conch Pea (~150 ft each) and 250ft of Puerto Rico Evergreen okra (plus some other smaller plantings to fill the spaces!).

#farming #timelapse #okra #taro #yacon #conchpea #southernpea

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The Experimental Farm Notebook

We’ll be publishing  updates throughout the growing season so you can stay up to date with what we’re up to and how the experiments are going. This will be an informal narrative of our highs and lows, successes and failures, with photos and fun facts!

Follow Along With Our Notes From The Field

Thanks to our Sustaining Sponsors

Two Seeds in a Pod - Sustaining Sponsor
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Sustaining Sponsor