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.

Black turmeric is taller than Emmy 💜

#Turmeric #blackturmeric

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It's seed saving season!

Here are some pepper seeds from a very early red pepper that was gifted to me by Mark Cohen a few years ago. I think I may have enough seeds to offer it through @sowtrueseed this year!

And of course it'll be on my thank you Patreon list for all our patrons.

#Seedsaving #pepperseeds #communitysupported

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Ube ice cream from @hopicecreamnc, grown by One Fortune Farm 💜 ...

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I was racing to plant collards ahead of the rain. I guess I was about 30 minutes off...

#utopianultracross2021 #ultracrosscollards2020 #collards

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Some serious interview action going on in the taro patch. I'm not allowed to reveal too much, but our little project is getting some national media attention! ...

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Planting our Ultracross Collards at Two Sided Farm.

Once we're done will likely have over a thousand plants in the ground which will give us an excellent population for ongoing selection towards a cold hardy beautifully diverse and tasty collard mix.

I've still got flats available grown by @gaiaherbs for local farmers community gardens and school gardens, get in touch if you want to grow some of these collards. More details by the link in our bio.

#ultracrosscollards2020 #collards

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When someone asks for an okra harvest, and you really want to get it to them but you just don't have time, then just cut down the whole plan to give it to them...

Actually Eli and Sydney of @hominyfarm are working on a creative dish for the next @chowchow_avl event, Root to Bloom, which will be held at @gaininggroundfarm this Sunday. They asked for overgrown okra so they could shell it for the seeds. Granted I said I'd give them a box of okra and they got a bootload, but Eli accepted it with a smile!

Very excited to see what they come up with.


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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