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Join us for a two-day retreat into the world of seeds! Our virtual gathering on March 1-2, 2024, will feature discussions, presentations and opportunities to connect with others about soil, human and planetary health. 

The theme of the 2024 Slow Seed Summit is Ground yourself: Seeds and systems change for soil, human and planetary health. Keynote presenter Rupa Marya, author of Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice, will set the stage and illuminate the connection of our food system to our inflamed soils, bodies and planet. Slow Food USA’s 2024 Plant a Seed crops of roots and grains will help us examine seeds and systems in five interactive sessions.



Enjoy five panel discussions, a film screenings and a full archive of the Slow Seed Summit you can access after the event. 


Friday, March 1

12 p.m. ET: Welcome to the 2024 Seed Summit
Slow Food USA Executive Director Anna Mulè

12:15 p.m. ET: Slow Seed Declaration: Where we stand on seeds
Featuring Melissa de Billot and Jeff Quattrone

12:30 p.m. ET: Keynote address: Seeding the Radical Imagination for Whole Systems Health
Rupa Marya

2:30 p.m. ET: Wheat: From heirloom to commodity to gut
Featuring Heather Darby, Elaine Ingham and Amber Lambke

Grains have been commercially dominated by wheat, but so many other grain crops are available and provide an important alternative to gluten. The herbicide glyphosate is used extensively in wheat production to hasten ripening as well as to keep weed pressure at bay. However, researchers are increasingly finding links between gluten intolerance and glyphosate exposure. Let’s talk about wheats and grains that you can plant – their link to our soil health, human health and planetary health.

Saturday, March 2

12 p.m. ET: Sugar: Soil, bodies and land on the line
Featuring Chris Keeve, Denisa Livingston and Noa Kekuewa Lincoln
Moderated by Danielle Nierenberg

Did you know that 55% of domestically produced granulated sugar comes from sugar beets? 45% comes from sugarcane. We’ll dive into how that came to be, meet sugar growers, seed savers and learn about the connection between fiber and sugar and the implications for our soils, our health, our planet.

2 p.m. ET: Corn: The future is our heritage
Featuring Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, Angel Jimerson, Gustavo Romero Veytia
and Dave Smoke-McCluskey
Moderated by Bilal Sarwari

Corn is the iconic crop of the United States, but getting knee high by the fourth of July means that you need fast-growing hybridized crops to meet consumer demand. Much of our corn crop has moved into ethanol production for fuel, high fructose corn syrup and alcohol. Corn is native to North America and activists and seed growers are uplifting heirloom corn varieties to reconnect eaters with this important food relative. Learn the impact that making corn a commodity has had on our soils, our health and our planet.

4 p.m. ET: Screening: Common Ground
Followed by Q-and-A with Lyla June Johnston, artist and scholar featured in the film



Rupa Marya

Rupa Marya

Keynote speaker

Rupa Marya is a physician, activist, artist and writer who is an Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and the founder and executive director of the Deep Medicine Circle, an organization committed to healing the wounds of colonialism through food, medicine, story, learning and restoration.

In 2021, she published her first book with political ecologist, food system activist and policy professor Raj Patel, Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice. This book advances a new level of diagnosis that incorporates history and lines of power into our understanding of the root causes of health disparities and the rise of inflammatory disease in industrialized places, offering compelling treatment options for what is ailing people and the planet.

Rupa was a speaker at the 2022 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto and joins the Slow Seed Summit as keynote speaker.

Melissa de Billot

Melissa is the Slow Food International Councilor for Biodiversity. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is active in growing and saving the endangered traditional heirloom seeds of South Africa, and distributing them to small scale farmers.

Heather Darby

Portrait of Heather DarbyHeather Darby is an Agronomist and Soils Specialist with the University of Vermont Extension. For 20 years she has worked in partnership with organic farmers to build a local grain economy. Her research has focused on soil health and biology that promotes resilient crop production. Heather’s work bringing together farmers with bakers, maltsters, and millers has helped to develop a sustainable community food system in New England.

Lorraine Gray

Portrait of Lorraine GrayLorraine has a diverse background, beginning with a Masters in Project Management. She has been working in the area of traditional agricultural revival for the last 20 years. She was a member of the Native Delegation to Terra Madre in 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2022 in Torino, Italy. Working with Winona LaDuke and others, she helped to develop the Slow Food Turtle Island Association. She is currently an Indigenous Terra Madre (ITM) Board Member. Gray co-founded Kanenhi:io Ionkwaienthonhakie (We Are Planting Good Seeds), which built a substantial community greenhouse, established a community farmers’ market on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation, and supports community gardens and individual family farms.

Gray is now living in New Mexico, and is the Executive Director for the Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute. She manages programs on the farm, across Turtle Island, and in various parts of the world. She is an activist in women’s rights and environmental issues working with Winona LaDuke, the late Percy Schmeiser, Debra Harry, Paul Stamets, Oscar Olivera, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Jefferey Smith, and others, and spent time at Standing Rock fighting the advances of the pipeline construction.

Eleana Hsu

Portrait of Eleana HsuEleana is a fermentress based in SF, specializing in using koji, an ancient fungi, to create newly imagined farm-to-ferment misos and shoyus with her partner Kevin Gondo. Inspired by traditional fermentation methods, wild foraged mushrooms, and the bounty of Northern California, their handcrafted small-batch approach has earned them a dedicated following, cherished by Michelin-starred chefs and home cooks alike. Each batch is bursting with flavors you’ve never experienced before, making these products a culinary adventure like no other.

Elaine Ingham

Dr. Ingham uncovered the Soil Food Web nearly 4 decades ago and has been pioneering research about Soil Food Web ever since. Widely recognized as the world’s foremost soil biologist, she’s passionate about empowering people to bring the soils in their communities back to life.
Dr. Elaine’s™ Soil Food Web Approach has been used to successfully restore the ecological functions of soils on more than five million acres of farmland all over the world. The courses offered by Dr. Elaine’s™ Soil Food Web School have been designed for people with, or without, a science background — making them accessible to individuals who wish to learn and to begin a meaningful and impactful career in an area that will help to secure the survival of humans and other species.

Angel Jimerson

Angel Jimerson (Ga:waöwa:s) is a queer individual who focus’ on mental health while relating it to the work that they’ve done with Ganondagan’s White Corn Project as the Production Manager. Angel is Heron clan of the Onödowá’ga:’ and grew up living at Ganondagan’s State Historic Site in Victor, NY. They started as a young teen at the Project then took over the production at age 20, continuing to create a safe space for corn and education. After many years, Angel now presents on their experience with the corn, connecting it to self respect and personal growth.

Lyla June Johnston

Dr. Lyla June Johnston (aka Lyla June) is an Indigenous musician, author, and community organizer of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages. Her multi-genre presentation style has engaged audiences across the globe towards personal, collective, and ecological healing. She blends her study of Human Ecology at Stanford, graduate work in Indigenous Pedagogy, and the traditional worldview she grew up with to inform her music, perspectives and solutions. Her doctoral research focused on the ways in which pre-colonial Indigenous Nations shaped large regions of Turtle Island (aka the Americas) to produce abundant food systems for humans and non-humans.

Christian Keeve

Christian Keeve is a chaotic gardener, seedkeeper, and PhD Candidate in Geography at the University of Kentucky. Their work is largely about the political ecologies, cooperative geographies, and nonhuman relations of agrobiodiversity—the things that people do, or don’t do, with seeds, and the things that seeds may or may not do on their own. This has involved building spaces for critical thinking about how seed work and plant relations might encourage creative and alternative ways of thinking about history, memory, (re)production, community, and solidarities beyond the human. Learn more about their work at www.chriskeeve.com.

Amber Lambke

Amber Lambke is founder and CEO of Maine Grains, Inc., carried by specialty food stores and used by bakeries, breweries and chefs throughout the Northeast. She is also the founding director of the non-profit Maine Grain Alliance whose flagship event, the Kneading Conference, draws hundreds of attendees from around the world each year and has spawned countless similar conferences. A driving force behind Maine’s sustainable foods movement, Amber has worked with local business leaders and community members to successfully bring the cultivation and processing of grains back to the northeast. Her efforts have generated a broader understanding and appreciation of the flavor, nutrition, economic and environmental value of freshly milled, organic grains.

Noa Kekuewa Lincoln

Noa Kekuewa Lincoln is kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) and kama’aina (native born) to Kealakekua on Hawai’i Island. His childhood consists of unique training by Hawaiian elders in la’au lapa’au (ethnobotany) and traditional management methods for agriculture and ocean resources. Dr. Lincoln completed his formal trainings at Yale University (ʻ03) in Environmental Engineering and Stanford University (ʻ13) in Biogeochemistry and Social Ecology. He has worked and studied across the Pacific Rim in California, Costa Rica, Brazil, New Zealand, Tahiti, and the Marquesas, among other places. Much of his applied training through mentorship has focused on the installation of cultural values into management systems. In 2020, Dr. Lincoln published his book, Kō: An Ethnobotanical Guide to Hawaiian Sugarcane Cultivars, outlining the extensive biodiversity of the many cultivars of sugarcane that Native Hawaiians introduced to the islands nearly a millennium before Europeans arrived and the vital role sugarcane played in the culture and livelihood of Native Hawaiians. Dr. Lincoln is also on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste Committee for Hawaii.

Denisa Livingston

Denisa Livingston, M.P.H., M.L.S., (Diné, New Mexico, she/her/hers) is an unapologetic food justice organizer, Ashoka Fellow, and an Indigenous public health systems consultant. As of May 2023, she was named one of the University of New Mexico’s new Tribal Data Champion Fellows. Denisa recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma, College of Law, Indigenous Peoples Law program. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She recently served five years as the Slow Food International Indigenous Councilor of the Global North from 2017-2022 and four years as a member of the advisory board of the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples international network – Indigenous Terra Madre. She is committed to addressing food apartheid and nutritional trauma in Indigenous communities while addressing the invisibility of Indigenous Peoples by reclaiming Native truth and bringing awareness to the disparities and inequities in Indian Country that have been further illuminated in the pandemic caused by colonization, systemic racism, patriarchal oppression, and perpetual injustices. The work and efforts of Denisa focus on servant leadership, taste education, growing traditional Indigenous foods, gastronomy, creating new roles for society, and bridging community members to purpose and innovation.

Danielle Nierenberg

Danielle Nierenberg is a world-renowned researcher, speaker, and advocate on all issues relating to our food system and agriculture. In 2013, Danielle Nierenberg co-founded Food Tank (foodtank.com) with Bernard Pollack, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. Food Tank is a global convener, thought leadership organization, and unbiased creator of original research impacting the food system.

Danielle has an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and spent two years volunteering for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. Danielle is the recipient of the 2020 Julia Child Award.

Dave Smoke McCluskey

Mohawk Chef Dave Smoke McCluskey, owner/miller of Corn Mafia, a Native owned micro mill that processes and grows Haudenosaunee Corn, Heirloom, and Mexican Landrace corns into Hominy Grits, Cornmeal, Flour/Masa and whole hominy for Posole.

Jeff Quattrone

Jeff Quattrone is an artist, activist and New Jersey folklife and foodway seed historian. His Iconic Jersey Tomatoes project respects, revives and reinvents the history of Jersey-tomato seed breeding history, and the cultural intersection of that. With community partners, he’s taking the extinct out of functionally extinct one Jersey-bred tomato at a time.

Gustavo Romero Veytia

Chef Gustavo Romero is a maizeologist, passionate about evangelizing heirloom corn and elevating Mexican cuisine. He and his wife own the James Beard nominated Oro restaurant and Nixta Tortilleria in Minneapolis, MN. He likes slow food and fast futbol games.

Bilal Sarwari

Bilal Sarwari (pronounced: beh-laal with the ‘a’ vowel as in ‘all’ | sar-war-ee with the ‘a’ vowel as in ‘apple’)

Bilal Sarwari is the proud first-generation child of Afghan refugees and is equally proud to claim Atlanta, Georgia as birthplace (Piedmont Hospital for the record). He is a graduate of Oxford College in Oxford, Georgia and Emory University. Bilal strives to center joy and justice in his professional, personal, and volunteer work. He is a group facilitator and equity, justice, and inclusion consultant that works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on farmer mental health projects along the East Coast. He is also hired by companies and nonprofits seeking to meaningfully develop (and implement) their strategic plans and improve workplace communication. Bilal worked for years as a farmer at White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, GA and currently serves a few clients in the area as a Garden Maintenance Specialist for Garden*Hood in Grant Park. Since 2008, he has been an active member of Slow Food. Bilal was recently appointed as the United States representative for the Slow Food International Council and has just returned from a month overseas working on the organization’s strategic plan. This new role is balanced with his position on the Slow Food USA Board of Directors where he serves as Governance Chair. Bilal believes that change on the global level happens locally and is thrilled when he has the opportunity to talk food and farms in the Atlanta area.