437: Casey O’Leary on Seed Cooperatives.

Stewarding our seed futures with regional growers working together. 

Casey O'LearyCasey is a seed freak and urban farmer in Boise, Idaho. On her farm which is called Earthly Delights, she grows oodles of seed crops as well as vegetables, herbs, and flowers for her CSA members. She also co-founded the Snake River Seed Cooperative, which now involves over 30 Intermountain West farmers stewarding nearly 400 varieties of regionally-adapting seeds, which they sell to area farmers and gardeners. Casey loves to talk with others about the wondrous interconnections of the natural world.

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In This Podcast:

We dove into the world of urban seed saving and starting a seed co-op with Casey O’Leary. She has worn many hats: an environmental activist, farmer, CSA owner, and founder of the Snake River Seed Cooperative. She now supports her bioregion (and the world) with seeds specific to her area and educates on seed saving in her upcoming seed school. Her CSA challenges members to learn how to cook a variety of food, and they educate members on how to prepare and store new items. 

Listen in and learn about:

    • How she went from environmental activism into farming 
    • How she farms without owning her land 
    • Her journey into seed saving and how it impacts her profit 
    • Cross-pollination challenges with seed crops 
    • How growing corn in a city makes it easier to grow non-GMO corn 
    • WWOOFing to learn to farm 
    • Her CSA: Community Support Agriculture and how it teaches you to eat and cook new things 
    • Producer driven pricing and cost 
    • Biodiversity on a farm 
    • The benefit to seed Cooperatives and working with other farmers in their bioregion for seeds 
    • Seed sovereignty and why it’s important to pay attention to the bioregion for your seeds 
    • Open pollinated and heirloom seed varieties vs hybrid or genetically modified seeds 
    • Seed Schools and what you’ll learn in her upcoming seed school 

As well as: 

Her failure – Mistakes happen, but with plants, make sure you know what you have before you market it! 

Her success – The seed co-op and the 50,000 packets of seed per year that didn’t exist before it started. 

Her drive – To do ethical work that she believes in and create solutions for positive change. 

Her advice – Let at least one of your plants go to flower and save the seeds from it and plant them the next year. 

Casey’s Book recommendations: 

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition by Suzanne Ashworth 

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer 

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson 

How to reach Casey: 

Website: snakeriverseeds.com, rockymountainseeds.orgearthlydelightsfarm.com 


Thank you to LaCrosse Boots for sponsoring this episode

LaCrosse Boots – The go to boots for big tasks!

Note: You can also find these books mentioned above at one of our favorite local independent bookstores and have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a small business.

Some of the links in our podcast show notes and blog posts are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase, we will earn a nominal commission at no cost to you. We offer links to items recommended by our podcast guests and guest writers as a service to our audience and these items are not selected because of the commission we receive from your purchases. We know the decision is yours, and whether you decide to buy something is completely up to you. 

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