The Utopian Seed Project

Supporting diversity in food and farming
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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 and Celebrate diversity in food and farming. OUR VISION is an engaged community of growers, gardeners, farmers, foodies, cooks and chefs (actually, everyone) WHO embrace regional biodiversity for a resilient and delicious food and farming system.


THe Experimental Farm

We growing many different things in Western North Carolina to explore what could be grown in a more diverse food and farming system. In our farm work we explore emerging crops for this region as well as variety trials for traditional crops. Diversity and experimentation is at our core!

Crop Stories

Crop Stories is our way of speaking about, educating and celebrating the crops that we are working with. Crop Stories includes a crop-specific event series, a crop-specific magazine and a supporting podcast, with a high degree of synergy between these three platforms.

Seed Commons

 Collective responsibility, sharing of knowledge and seed, protection from private enclosure, and distributed, polycentric governance are key features of Seed Commons. Equitable and open-source seed work is at the center of everything we do.

Chef Yunanda Wilson cooking taro at the utopian seed project taro pop-up


The Utopian Seed Project grows a wide range of crops and varieties with the aim of increasing agrobiodiversity into the food and farming system. We host food focused events and partner with incredible local chefs to showcase the crops we’re working with.


This project traveled across 12 states and interviewed over 50 farmers, community gardeners, seed savers, seed growers and seed advocates. The footage was weaved together to tell the story and seed saving of six southern crops: corn, okra, southern peas, collards, sweet potatoes and squash.

This is the beginnings of a Southern Pea Ultracross, created as part of a search for promiscuous peas! With most things seeds, I will first turn to Yanna Fishman, board member of The Utopian Seed Project and incredible seed keeper. I told Yanna I was looking for Southern Peas and when I went to visit she had pulled out jars and jars of different Southern Pea varieties. They were diverse and beautiful, but there was one jar pushed to the corner labelled, `Sports`. Yanna explained that she plants all her peas pretty close and hand shells everything. When she gets peas that don`t look like their parents then she puts them off to one side and they all end up in the `Sports` jar. The sports are likely to actually be crosses and this jar probably represented the promiscuous peas I was looking for. In 2023 we planted two 50ft rows of Yanna`s peas and one row of Joseph Lofthouse`s landrace southern pea. We also had plantings of Texas Green Emerald (the green pea) and Rouge de Burkina Faso (the red pea) planted in adjacent rows. This mix is a combination of all the seeds with high hopes of ongoing inter crossing in years to come.

#promiscuouspeas #ultracrosspeas #southernpeas

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I`m so excited that Ed and Sue Mayer will be bring yacon tubers to sell at the @radfarmersmarket today. They`ll be there until 530pm and I hope they sell out because everyone should get to experience this delicious Andean root crop.

Recently Chef @cire6682 of @culturaavl created an amazing `apple` pie using yacon tubers at one of our Trial to Table events! If you`re in town then go snag yourself some yacon and get cooking (or eat it peeled and raw like an apple!).

From the Slow Food Ark of Taste: "The yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a tuber native to Latin America that is part of the Ateraceae family, which used to be the Compositae family. The plant can grow up to one and a half meters tall and the roots have a high water content and sweet flavour. The edible root’s pulp is a clear colour on the inside, with shades of crystal, while the skin is either brown or black. Similar to a yucca, the root’s dimensions depend on the cultivation and soil conditions where it grows. Up to 80% of the plant is consumed, as the branches, roots and flowers are all edible."

#yacon #NCYacon #boliviansunroot

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WNC grown taro chips!

Would you buy taro if you saw it at the farmers market?


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Sometimes people ask me about our team.

On one hand we have an enormous community of mentees and apprentices and volunteers and partners and board members and friends and farmers and chefs and mentors and donors and collaborating organizations.

On the other hand it`s mainly just me and Leeza growing some things!

Excited that @chefttlivinandlovin has recently joined our team, bumping our employees to 3! But that`s for another post!!

A rare photo of both of us captured by @untamedscience

#farming #farms #farmers

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We had a lot of fun at our @carolinafarms Southeast Seed Intensive yesterday. Lots of gratitude for an awesome team of seed teachers (pictured here). A great group of seed people in attendance (including a Louisiana delegation!). Sponsorship from @organic_seed_alliance. Venue hosting by @loyfarm_elon. And wonderful cooperating weather!

The @appalachian_seed_collective mobile seed processing trailer was out in full force and many seeds were cleaned 💚

More pics to follow!

#seeds #seedsaving #seedgrowing #seedkeeping #seseed

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It`s been a recent pleasure to support @princetonseedfarm and @ujamaafarms on an Heirloom Gardens Oral History Project.

At an Ujamaa Convening in Kentucky we filmed a short trailer for the project to let people know a little more about it.

Hope you enjoy!

#oralhistory #gardenstories #seeds

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Thanks to our Sustaining Sponsors

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