Seeds are my passion as they preserve our genetic heritage for future generations. My parents introduced me to gardening at age 5 and I participated in the Cleveland school garden program. After receiving my Master's degree in Biology I became interested in agriculture and worked at two farms. After starting many thousands of seedlings and watching them grow, I gained an appreciation for the diverse varieties of vegetables.
Currently I am an urban gardener leasing a vacant lot from the City of Cleveland, maintaining scores of potato varieties plus various other plants such as parsnips, beans and onions. I'm always trying something new such as Peruvian roots and I am very interested in Eastern European varieties that my ancestors may have grown. My garden educates the neighbors about heirloom varieties and seed saving. Also I participate in the Cross Hemisphere Dwarf Tomato project and organic potato trials for the University of Wisconsin. I apply principles of biology to my gardening such as layering the soil with organic matter and it must be working since the neighbors tell me I have a green thumb.
Certain obscure varieties can quickly become favorites and suddenly finding out the seeds you've been getting are no longer available can be pretty upsetting so I believe it is vital to foster an exchange medium for plant varieties and encourage people to save seeds. I've been a listed member of Seed Savers Exchange since 2010 and think it is a valuable organization, however, their online yearbook is very hard to use. Grassroots seems to have the right idea in making the plant exchanges easier. We are still losing varieties as people age and stop gardening and I want to do what I can to save the varieties.
I cull aggressively to avoid passing on diseases. This year I was unable to do so due to an early frost but I have selected those varieties I thought did well.