Category Archives: Announcements

Celebrations of Sun and Soil

Keeping Up with SESE

Recently, we here at Southern Exposure have had the pleasure of participating in two lovely, sustainability-focused events: our 4th annual Heritage Harvest Festival, held at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello right here in Virginia, and the inaugural Mother Earth News Fair at the Seven Springs Resort southeast of Pittsburgh.

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Our booth at HHF with Monticello in the background

Thomas Jefferson was an avid gardener and agriculturalist and, if alive today, would surely be a passionate advocate of the organic food movement. In honor of this, Monticello and Southern Exposure have been co-hosting the Heritage Harvest Festival (HHF)–a celebration of local food, gardening and sustainable agriculture.

Our wire seed rack on display at HHF

On Saturday, September 11th, 3,000 people flooded Monticello’s West Lawn to attend workshops and hands-on demonstrations as well as to admire Jefferson’s beautifully-restored gardens.

Experts from around the country shared their knowledge with participants at a variety of wonderful lectures. Among these master gardeners were our very own Ira Wallace and Ken Bezilla. Ira educated listeners about heirloom garlic and later, she threw a tea party! At her workshop Herbal “High” Tea, Ira served fancy herbal teas and delicious anise cookies while teaching participants how to grow the herbs needed to make such sweet and savory delights.

At Ken’s lecture, he delved into fall and winter gardening for Zone 6. Besides recommending winter greens and roots that participants could begin growing as well as naming crops such as garlic and onion that could be started for next year, Ken talked about frost preparation for summer crops, row cover, and what to do for your plants when it snows.

Andros putting out tomatoes samples

Over at our Southern Exposure booth, we hosted pepper, melon and tomato tastings that enveloped us in a flurry of activity all day long. The continuous stream of people wanting to try our numerous heirloom tomato varieties kept our ex-line cook Andros chopping tomatoes at lightening speed for hours.

Mother Earth News Fair

The first ever Mother Earth News Fair, held at the Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania, was a huge success, with over 9,000 participants and nearly 200 workshops. The fair was a hands-on sustainable lifestyle event that featured an eco-friendly marketplace, organic and local food tastings, and lectures by leading authorities on gardening, green building and renewable energy. We’re glad we got to be there and that we were asked to be a Supporting Partner of the event.

River and Gordon at our Mother Earth News Fair booth
Mmmm, garlic tasting!

An entire table of our booth was dedicated to seed swapping. We happily looked on as friends of Southern Exposure exchanged all sorts of seeds, from passion fruit to wildflowers, amongst each other.

People perusing our booth could also sample squash, tomato, pepper and garlic varieties–all of which we grew in our garden.

And Ira, ever a fountain of useful information, gave four lectures.

Ira's lecture "Growing Great Garlic and Perennial Onions"

When she wasn’t teaching attendees how to grow garlic, perennial onions, herbs and heirloom tomatoes, she was instructing people on how to eat fresh from their gardens all winter long.

If you missed the fun in Pennsylvania, come visit our booth next year! We’ll definitely be back, and with even more Southern Exposure goodness.

If you’ll be on the West Coast in June or September next year, you can also find us at these Mother Earth News Fairs:

June 4-5, 2011 – Seattle Metro Area, Puyallup Fairgrounds, Puyallup, Wash.
Sept. 3-5, 2011 – San Francisco Metro Area, Marin Center, San Rafael, Calif.

Upcoming Events: Where to Find Us This Winter

We’re donating ten percent of our sales from winter events to the Organic Seed Alliance, so come on out and celebrate seeds with us!

Dec 3-5 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s 25th Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Winston-Salem, NC
Dec 12 Appalachian Seed Swap in Bristol, TN
Jan 19-22 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) in Chattanooga, TN
Feb 10 Organic Seed Intensive in Portland, OR
Feb 11-12 Organicology in Portland, OR
Feb 11-12 Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF) in Danville, VA
Mar 5-6 Organic Growers School in Asheville, NC
Mar 10-12 Georgia Organics in Savannah, GA

Welcome Home

Time is a funny thing. We can make time; we keep time; once in a while (if we’re lucky) we can even find time- yet there never seems to be enough time. In times like these, we look to our community for support- our friends, our families, our loved ones. Meanwhile, big business is getting bigger and small businesses are getting smaller. We pray for abundance and hope for sustenance. And while personally, my little farmhouse is two seasons late for spring cleaning and there are always more bills to pay, I’m always grateful for my involvement with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Ashley and Arlo

As one of the newest members of our co-operational family here, I am constantly reminded that we are the exception to these rules. In a shrinking economy, Southern Exposure grew (and continues to grow). We make money by selling seeds, yet exist to share the skills of saving seed. Big business seed companies might try to fool themselves into modifying their seed. They might only produce one crop. They may sell the same seed variety to the same gardeners, season after season. At Southern Exposure, we realize by empowering our community of growers- we might sell a seed variety only once to each gardener- but that’s OK. We’re constantly adding different seed varieties to our catalog and our scope of growers is constantly widening.
You see, we are all community; and we always have time for you. Your success is our success, and ours is yours. Together we can overcome any drought, and at the end of the season we will share a fruitful harvest.

Introducing…the SESE blog!

Hi! Welcome to the brand new Southern Exposure blog.

It’s an exciting time here at Southern Exposure.  You may already know we’ve been involved in all aspects of the heirloom seed and organic seed movements for years.  (If you didn’t, there will be more on that later.)  But lately, we’ve made the decision that we want to start getting others involved, too.  What better way could there possibly be to preserve our rich and diverse agricultural heritage?  And what better way to do THAT than to communicate it with you here, in a free and open spirit of exchange!

We’ve decided to start this blog so we can share everything we know about seed saving, heirloom and organic seeds, organic gardening, home gardening, and a host of other subjects with those of you out there who – like us – are interested in a sane and sustainable future.

We’ll be posting information about big, upcoming events Southern Exposure is taking part in…”How-to” articles from professional gardeners and dedicated seed saving activists…Information about how you can get involved, no matter where you are…And of course, lots and lots of pictures.

So please, bookmark us and check in frequently.

P.S.  We’d love to hear your feedback!  So always feel free to leave comments.  And if you have any questions, you can always write us at

Happy gardening!

A Little Bit about Southern Exposure

Since we’re just getting the blog started, I thought this would be a good time to tell you a little bit about us and what we’re up to here at Southern Exposure.

So, what are we up to?  We are, as we like to say, “Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: Saving the Past for the Future.” What does that mean? It’s a catchy way of saying that we’re a small company with what we feel is a pretty big mission: to save the world’s seeds from the numerous perils that threaten to wipe out agricultural diversity permanently. (By the way, it’s entirely possible we’ll be writing more about those perils in the future, so stay tuned if you’re interested.)

Why do we care about the world’s agricultural diversity?  Well, there are plenty of good reasons.  But first and foremost, because we’re gardeners, too.

Southern Exposure is a worker owned and managed cooperative company. Each of us here is doing his or her part to fight against threats to our natural, biologically diverse food crops. Each of us stands up for the right to save seed, and for your right to do so, too.

We are very active within the heirloom seed saving movement.  This includes a dedication to outreach programs, like our annual co-hosting of the Heritage Harvest Festival (pics from this year’s HHF coming soon!), our seed donation program, and our many educational talks and workshops.

Plus, we’re dedicated to empowering gardeners in more immediate ways – like by providing access to high-quality seeds you can save yourself.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a small family farm growing for market, or a backyard gardening enthusiast.  Either way, we’re interested in helping you find the right seeds for your garden.

But we’re about more than just activism.  We simply love to garden.  And we love to push boundaries to discover just what works best (and what doesn’t) in our own organic gardens.

Gardening is an art, and trying new things just comes with the territory.  Hang around here, and it seems like there’s always a discussion about what we can try next.  Which tomato seeds are better for early planting…which heirloom flowers attract the most butterflies…and of course, which varieties of all the wonderful things we plant taste the best.

What else?  We’re…
…conducting trials on all our seed varieties to make sure they grow reliably.
…making sure to preserve varieties that have been developed naturally and have demonstrated favorable qualities for both growing condition and flavor here in the Mid-Atlantic region.
…looking out for varieties that grow well with as little impact to the environment as possible.
…doing all of our own germination tests to ensure that our seeds meet our high standards necessary for a bountiful garden.

We figured you’d like to know about all that, too.  So, this is where we’re going to give it to you.  Day by day, week by week.  We look forward to sharing what we know, and hearing what you think.

P.S.  Since our farm is certified organic, we can assure gardeners like you that our seeds absolutely do NOT need petrol chemicals in order to thrive.  It makes a difference to us, and we hope it does to you, too.