Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

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Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE) is a cooperatively-owned seed company and the principal livelihood of Acorn Community Farm, an intentional community in central Virginia. SESE is a source for heirloom seeds and other open-pollinated (non-hybrid) seeds with an emphasis on vegetables, flowers, and herbs that grow well in the Mid-Atlantic region. SESE also supports seed saving and traditional seed breeding through their product line and also through lectures and workshops.

The operational cycle for SESE runs from January to April principally filling seed orders. From March to August work is focused on the gardens, tending seed, and food crops. From August through October SESE harvests, cleans, and germination-tests seeds. In September specialty crops such as garlic, and onion bulbs are shipped, as are ginseng and goldenseal.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange uses both USDA certified organic seed stock as well as non-certified ecologically grown seeds from trusted sources. It pledges not to knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. SESE has introduced heirloom varieties long absent from the marketplace, such as the Amish Moon & Stars watermelon[1] and the Big Rainbow tomato.[2]

SESE is partners with the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, putting on an annual "Heritage Harvest Festival". The Heritage Harvest Festival is a non-profit event designed to educate the public on the importance of organics and heritage varieties. SESE publishes a quarterly email newsletter for gardeners, as well as the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Catalog and Garden Guide.

SESE is a member of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association which brought a lawsuit against Monsanto to prevent them from suing organic farmers when they are contaminated by Monsanto products. While SESE and OSGATA technically lost the suit, the Federal Appeals Judge panel did rule that Monsanto could not sue farmers with less than 1% contamination levels. [3]

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