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By Robin Mosley, Communications and Development Coordinator

Slow Food USA’s 2024 Plant a Seed campaign will explore eight different roots and grains, and a partnership with Seed Savers Exchange and its ADAPT program will give gardeners the opportunity to build community and test out new seed varieties.

Mara Welton, director of programs at Slow Food USA, highlights the collaboration’s importance, stating, “Our partnership with Seed Savers Exchange aligns with our mission to educate communities about regionally adapted food, ensuring access to biodiverse diets amid climate uncertainty. Grains and roots are important allies in maintaining and building healthy soils, helping us to eradicate climate change by planting seeds that nurture future generations.” 

This announcement comes on World Soil Day, an annual awareness day commemorated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Through educating the world about soil health, World Soil Day , this initiative emphasizes the vital connection between soil, human and planetary health. According to FAO, “The nutrient content of a plant’s tissues is directly related to the nutrient content of the soil and its ability to exchange nutrients and water with the plant’s roots.” Only by maintaining healthy soils through eradicating climate change can we plant seeds that nurture future generations.

In 2024, Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit dedicated to gardeners growing heirloom seeds, will bring Slow Food USA growers into its ADAPT program, allowing Slow Food USA’s garden-loving network to engage in this community science initiative. Sorghum and carrots are among the 10 experiments Seed Savers Exchange has planned for 2024, to intersect with next year’s Plant a Seed campaign, and interested participants can sign up here until January 26, 2024. Participants of this program will trial varieties from the seed bank in their own gardens and send feedback on their performance. This information will help highlight the adaptability of these seeds in different environments and will guide the selection process for new introductions into the Seed Savers Exchange catalog.

Kate Rowe, evaluation manager at Seed Savers Exchange, shared her excitement about the partnership: “I am thrilled to partner with Slow Food USA through our ADAPT program this year! The shared mission of increasing biodiversity while adapting to climate change makes Plant a Seed and ADAPT a perfect fit. Our joint efforts in the root and grain trials in 2024 will contribute valuable data to ensure that future Seed Savers Exchange catalog listings feature the best, most widely adapted crops from our collection of over 20,000 seed varieties.”

Since 2017, Plant a Seed has connected school garden programs and community and home gardeners with a seed kit of thoughtfully curated and distinctive foods, as well as ample support on growing, harvesting and cooking the food emerging from the soil. In 2023, Plant a Seed focused on seven varieties of greens, each of which advances nutrition and community foodways. Slow Food USA donated 350 seed kits to school gardens last year and plans to do so again in 2024, this time with a focus on grains and roots. Kits will be available for order on Feb. 14, 2024 at slowfoodusa.org/shop.

Sign up for the ADAPT program here and keep up with Plant a Seed updates by subscribing to our newsletter.