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.

Perennial soughum from the @experimentalfarmnetwork has given us an albino baby. We have a full row of this going in, but I don't think this one will make it (I've seen this happen in corn too, but the plant can't photosynthesize and dies).

#soughum #perennials #edibleperennials #experimentalfarm

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@soil3organiccompost have sponsored an interesting trial this year. We're testing a couple of things.

1. Planting density and harvest yields. Bag 1 will have 1 plant; Bag 2 will have 9 plants; Bag 3 will have 30 plants. We also have replicated in ground plots next to each bag.

2. Nutrient uptake. We've taken a pre soil sample and will take a post soil sample after harvest.

3. Root development. We will excavate and measure the roots at the end of the season.

4. Container vs. in ground planting. We'll compare the two plots.

We're using Heavy Hitter okra as our test variety, which means we could see enormous yields with the single plant plot!

@southernexposureseed has sponsored @lovesomegreen as a Research Assistant this year and Jordan will be heading up this trial as part of his work. Thanks also to @row7seeds and the @nellnewman foundation for their support.

#okra #heavyhitter #croptrials #experimentalfarm

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Planting Kenaf from the @experimentalfarmnetwork today, along with a sneaky mallow intruder

#kenaf #mallow #hibiscus #marvelousmalvacea

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Great opportunity for black, indigenous and farmers of color from @leahpenniman
and @federationofsoutherncoop

#Repost @braidingseedsfellowship (@get_repost)
Apply at this page:

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Come see us at the @ashevilleherbfest - we've got overflow plants from our trials, so you can join the fun!

Sochan, Hot Peppers, Turkish Rocket, Yacon, Egyptian Walking Onion, Blackberry, Red Chokeberry, Achira, Taro, Water chestnuts, Elderberry, Solomon's Seal!

We're at the @sowtrueseed booth 💜

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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