I first started collecting and saving heirloom and traditional varieties in the early 1980s. I still have about 5 Southwestern varieties of those I started with back then.
I pretty much went my own way in horticulture until joining the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company team in 2005. In my decade of working for Baker Creek, I have fulfilled numerous tasks--warehouse manager, germ testing, seed ordering, troubleshooting customers' horticultural problems, etc. And whatever else I may have done during that time, I have also overseen the contract production on the rarest-of-rare seeds that our company offers. I think that is one of the most satisfying aspects of my last decade: knowing that a number of formerly rare, superior varieties are now widely available because I ran across them and believed in them long enough to get them through the process. What a thrill!
I have also listed varieties with Seed Savers Exchange since about 2006. Between being a listing member, selecting and ordering Yearbook items for increase, overseeing Baker Creeks voluminous annual Yearbook offerings, and ordering seed for resale, I've seen a fair amount of their work, and have ongoing professional association with several of their current and former managers. I am removed from their politics, however, and don't really have much of an opinion about the group. I just want the mission to succeed, and if that means forming a new group to carry on the original mission, then so be it. I am happy to participate and share whatever expertise and knowledge I can.
Since 2006 I have operated my own small plant business, Abundant Acres Growers (abundantacres.net), and have grown and sold hundreds of heirloom varieties. Abundant Acres has shipped plants throughout most of the country, making quality open-pollinated varieties available to hundred of folks who choose not to start their heirlooms from seed.
I have also written extensively on horticulture and seed saving over the last decade. My work has been seen in Heirloom Gardener, Natural Awakenings, Small Farm Today and Missouri Gardener magazines. I've also had pieces included in "Permaculture Voices" and Dr. Vandana Shiva's "Seed Freedom:
A Global Citizens‘ Report". I have given numerous classes and workshops on heirlooms and seed saving, in Missouri, New England, California and New York.
Finally, I have been a small scale seed grower for many years, having grown and sold seed to Native Seeds/SEARCH, Baker Creek, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
What I can bring to GSN, whether as a board member or a volunteer, is a synthesis of the varied activities in my background. I understand what individual gardeners want and need in seed saving, I have been involved in the nuts-and-bolts of growing one of the premier heirloom seed companies as well as my own start-up, and I have some ability to help educate and inform. It may be that I can bring a fresh approach with not a lot of baggage. I have a passion for food security, which is by definition a democratic process.