I am running for the GSN board to offer my perspective as a young farmer, a commercial seed producer, an amateur seed breeder, and an educator, as well as my commitment to inclusive democratic governance and the wider movement for community seed sovereignty.
I started farming in 2006 as part of the latest wave of new farmers finding a way to make a living in agriculture with integrity. After years of working as a farmer and farm-based educator for mission-driven organizations in settings ranging from urban public schools to municipal government to Yale University, I put down roots in 2012 with my family on Blackbird Rise, an 80-acre homestead in central Maine where we grow certified organic vegetable and herb seeds, grafted heirloom fruit trees and nursery stock, as well as mixed vegetables and rotationally grazed heritage livestock. In addition to producing organic seed commercially, I am also engaged in a number of on-farm selection and breeding projects to develop regionally adapted winter storage and fodder crops best suited to our climate, soils, farming practices, and the (rustic!) storage facilities of our farm. I still work off-farm, most recently developing an organic teaching farm and sustainable agriculture program at Kennebec Valley Community College and now consulting part-time on sustainable farm development projects throughout the northeast. I sit on the Agricultural Services committee of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and recently completed a year’s service as a representative on the Agricultural Council of Maine.
The GSN has the great privilege to start off on the shoulders of those who have committed decades to the national seed saving community. Despite this well of experience, the GSN still faces the task of ensuring, in both principle and practice, that this new network is structured in a way that is truly representative and responsive to its membership. For that reason I think it is critical that the board leadership itself reflects the wide diversity of interests, experiences, and perspectives held by the membership. A range of voices at the table will lead to a wider, stronger, and more supported network of engaged seed savers and sharers.
I am passionate about the need to rebuild resilient farm and food systems, and think that preservation and open dissemination of crop diversity through seed saving/sharing is one of the most important ways to do it. In addition to facilitating seed saving and exchange, I hope for the GSN to support and engage seed savers with peer-to-peer education about scale-appropriate seed production methods, processing equipment, conventional breeding techniques, on-farm variety trials, etc.