Melissa Hilsgen

When I first heard about the Grassroots Seed Network I was very happy to have found a democratic group focused on the preservation and distribution of precious seeds by real gardeners. A diverse, grassroots, localized seed supply is essential for the survival of localized agriculture and food, and the sustainability of a natural agri-ecosystem. Farmers and gardeners cannot continue growing a limited gene pool and expect a stable future. This is why the preservation of varieties and the local adaptation that comes with regional growing and propagating of plants across the country is so vital!  

My Background:
Seed saving and preservation really is an addiction for me. I love discovering new (to me anyway) and fascinating plants.  My interest in saving seeds began very early. By the time I was 16 I was maintaining a collection of over 300 varieties of different vegetables. I went to many seed swaps, joined SSE and other local seed groups, and taught many seed saving workshops and classes to hundreds of attendees. To further my experience in the field, from age 14 to 23 I operated a small mail order seed house, which gave me great marketing and communication skills and a taste for teaching. 

My life has changed some since then. My husband and I moved to our farm 3 years ago and are working to build it into an organic sustainable agri-ecosystem, with most of it in gardens of course. Just last year we opened a non-profit seed house (Solera Seeds) to further the work of preserving and distributing Heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. 

Why I am Running:
I am running for the board of GSN because I recognize the crying need for grassroots localized small scale seed saving,  a democratic and open method of distributing these precious seeds, and the education of the would-be seed-saver. The teaching of the WHY and HOW of seed saving is vital and this is one area where I would like to be of help. My vision is that GSN would become a tremendous resource to seed savers in the form of how-to articles and videos, real-life workshops, classes, and a greater participation in the Forum. In addition to teaching, my field of work has been marketing, and I would like to bring this to my time on the GSN board as well. My head is flooded with ideas on how GSN can reach more gardeners, would-be gardeners and eaters with not only knowledge, but the passion of growing their own gardens and saving their own seeds. The role of GSN as a democratic and non-political voice is beautiful and I hope that we can encourage greater member participation in this great work.

Thank you to all members for their important contribution!