488: Chris Smith about Saving Seed Diversity.

Documenting the many unique aspects in seed varieties.

In This Podcast:

Returning podcast guest, Chris Smith, updates us on his Okra Trials, everything he learned, and how they determined the best variety of okra out of over 60 contestants! He also shares how The Utopian Seed Project is focusing on bringing seed and food diversity to the south. They are currently testing other southern crops such as cowpeas, heritage beans, corn, and groundnuts. Listen in to learn about growing tropical perennials in the south, open-sourced seeds, and much more! 

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Our Guest:

Chris is an author, garden blog writer, and homesteading consultant. In 2018 while writing his book The Whole Okra, he grew out 76 different varieties of okra as research.  In many ways this research fed The Utopian Seed Project to take root and grow.  Based in Asheville, NC, the Utopian Seed Project is a hands-in-the-earth organization committed to research trials on crop varieties in the Southeast to support diversity in food and farming. They are working towards an overarching vision to support food security in the face of climate change through diverse and regenerative agriculture. 

Listen in and learn about:

    • What he learned from his Okra trials and why he grew 76 varities 
    • The intent behind the Utopian Seed Project 
    • Finding 125 different varieties of seeds of the same vegetable 
    • The community taste test and how they made that into a fun competition to find the best tasting okra 
    • Their current trials of southern crops: Okra, cowpeas, heritage beans, and corn 
    • The tests they are doing on growing tropical perennials as temperate annuals in Western North Carolina 
    • Using root crops to create sustainable cycles 
    • Cowpeas, their benefits, how to eat them, and the best varieties  
    •  Questioning the food system and thinking outside of the box about what we should be eating 
    • Wild edibles and what can be part of agriculture instead of foraging 
    • Groundnuts and potato nuts 
    • Open sourced seeds and plants 

As well as: 

His Food Memory – Baking with his mother.  

His advice – Be open minded and explorative in your culinary desires and know the difference between varieties. 

Books written by Chris*: 

The Whole Okra: A Seed to Stem Celebration”

How to reach Chris:

Website: theutopianseedproject.org 

Facebook: @theutopianseedproject 

Instagram: @theutopianseedproject

 Chris’s previous podcast: 

468: Chris Smith on Okra.

*Disclosure:  Some of the links in this post 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 guest as a service to our audience and these items are not selected because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether you decide to buy something is completely up to you. 


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