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.

Transplanted 200 baby okra plants today at Mark Dempsey`s farm in Swonanoa. This is a seed crop of Yalova Akkoy for @twoseedsinapod, an okra variety that we trialed in 2018 and impressed @oldnorthfarmer! Excited to be growing a lot of it this year and looking forward to eating some as well as saving seed!

#seseed #okra #seedsaving

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Diversity is beautiful. This is Frank Morton`s (@wild_garden_seed) everything lettuce mix that we`ll be selecting for bolting and flavor 💚


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I`ve been wanting to work with Aibika for a long time and thanks to @hawaiibananasource I now have a really diverse mix of planting material. Known for its deeply nutritious heat loving leaves, this close relative to okra is a staple green on many Pacific Island Nations.

#aibika #bele #abelmoschus

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People often ask how they can access the seeds we`re working with, well this year @southernexposureseed are selling our Puerto Rico Everblush and 50% of all sales support our project. It`s one of @blueandyellowmakes favorite varieties.

"In 2018 Chris Smith (author of the James Beard Award winning book, The Whole Okra) grew 76 varieties of okra. One of the varieties was a USDA accession called Puerto Rico Evergreen, which was collected in May 1953 at the Rio Piedras Experiment Station in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Evergreen stood out from the beginning – it was early, productive and delicious (ranking highly in a number of taste tests). The plants were tall and beautiful with solid red-green stems. The pods were generally green with red blushing and a mix of rounded to ridged in shape. There was a range of spininess, but some pods were super smooth. It quickly became one of Chris’ favorite okras. In 2019 and 2020 Chris shared seeds with SESE founder, Jeff McCormack, who now also describes it as his favorite okra. Since 2018 Chris has made consistent selections for pods that are smooth to velvety, rounded in shape (i.e. no ridges), and with significant red blushing. The pods are quite long and thin and can generally be harvested around 6 inches in length. Chris has also continued to select for flavor, and in 2021 partnered with Chef Terri Terrell (@chefttlivinandlovin) to make harsh selections based on great taste. There is a sweet pea flavor that comes through in some of the plants, but they are all delicious. There are still some off-types that show up, and some variation in branching, stalk color and even the occasional spiny pod, but the variety has stabilized to a point where we’re happy to share it with you. Chris has also renamed his population, Puerto Rico Everblush, to distinguish it from the original genetics and to reflect the direction he has taken this variety, but he also wants to acknowledge that Puerto Evergreen was a great variety from the start and although we don’t know the full history, some great work was obviously done in Puerto Rico."

#okra #puertoricoeverblush #okraseed #seedsaving

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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