UTOPIAN UltraCross Collards

A Community Seed Selection Project

A community of seed savers will help select 21 inter-crossed heirloom varieties towards a cold-hardy, beautifully diverse and delicious collard mix. Purchase your seed packet from our partners:

Seed Exposure Seed ExchangeWorking Food

The Utopian Ultracross Collard Community Seed Selection (CSS) project is made possible through collabaoration with awesome seed-industry partners. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Work Food are packaging and distributing seeds, and Gaia Herbs have generously seeded 200 flats of these collards for local distribution.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Sustaining Sponsor
The Utopian Seed Project - Logo

Utopian Ultracross

In 2020 The Utopian Seed Project along with 8 other trial sites (including Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Working Food (via the University of Florida)) grew 20 collard varieties as part of a nationwide collard trial for The Heirloom Collard Project. The Utopian Seed Project also grew “Lottie” Collard bringing the heirloom total to 21. During the winter of 2020 the collards survived lows of 8°F and in spring/summer 2021 seeds were saved from the surviving plants.

Given the obligate outcrossing nature of Brassica oleracea and the randomized two block design of the trial, we can be assured that there was a high degree of inter-variety cross pollination. These seeds represent massive genetic diversity, firstly because the original heirloom collards are genetically diverse, and secondly because they’ve cross pollinated with each other. Collard grower and Heirloom Collard participant, Melony Edwards, described them as an ultracross: this is not a technical term, but captures the spirit of these collards!

The Heirloom Collard Project

Educational SuppoRT

The Utopian Seed Project, with support from SESE, will provide guidance and education for the process of selective seed saving. Our objective is to save seeds from the most cold tolerant and tasty collards while preserving a wide diversity of types and colors. We will be making and sharing educational videos and materials to support your collard growing and seed selection journey! 

Get Involved

There are two ways to get involved. If you are a gardener or a farmer that doesn’t live close to Asheville then we invite you to purchase a packet of Utopian Ultracross Collard seeds. We have partnered with some seed industry friends to help with the packing and distribution of the collard seeds we grew. Purchase a packet of seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange or Working Food to get your seeds and support the project, each organization is donating 50% of the seed sales to The Utopian Seed Project.

If you are local and able to grow collards at scale then we are distributing flats of these collards ASAP (166 cell flats kindly donated by Gaia Herbs). Please read and fill in the form below.

Community seed selection 2021/22

So far in 2021 we have had 300 people purchase seed packets from SESE and Working Food, and we have 200 flats seeded from Gaia Herbs. If you missed out on seeds this year, you can still follow the journey, or support by making a donation below.

The Heirloom Collard Project

The Heirloom Collard Project

In 2016 Seed Savers Exchange in collaboration with Ira Wallace at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange requested over 60 varieties from the USDA to trial at Seed Savers Exchange, Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa. These varieties were collected by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan from seed savers across the Southeast, mostly in North and South Carolina, . These varieties were identified as rare heirlooms and the intention was to regenerate them and share the seed with seed savers across the country. Only fragments of the full story of these varieties were collected by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan. It is a priority of this project to revisit the original seed savers and learn about these collards’ rich culinary and seed saving histories.

The Utopian Ultracross Collard Community Seed Selection (CSS) project is made possible through collabaoration with awesome seed-industry partners. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Work Food are packaging and distributing seeds, and Gaia Herbs have generously seeded 200 flats of these collards for local distribution.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Sustaining Sponsor
The Utopian Seed Project - Logo