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Watch: How Seed Saving Keeps Heirloom Produce Growing for Generations

Ira Wallace and the team at Southern Exposure link the past to the present through the garden

How does the produce we love grow year after year for generations? This week’s mini-documentary from the Southern Foodways Alliance features Ira Wallace, the woman and muscle behind Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: one of the country’s best known and most-respected sources for heirloom and open-pollinated seeds.

Seed saving and open pollinating are processes for keeping older forms of produce growing into the modern era, and not losing their specific familial strains to time. Open pollinating in particular ensures stable genetics, maintaining unique plant lineages for generations. At the Acorn Community Farm in Louisa County, Virginia, Ira Wallace and others work to save and sell both newer and heirloom (so defined if the variety dates to before 1940) seed varieties, using the garden as a link between the past and the present.

Watch the video above to learn more about Wallace's work, the stories behind some of her favorite breeds (like the Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter tomato), and more.

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