Southern Exposure Seed Exchange to Expand into New Facility
A Louisa County-based catalogue company that cultivates and ships seeds across North America is growing. The people who live and work on the farm at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange are preserving heirloom plants for the next generation of growers.
"We have over 700 varieties that we sell," said Irena Hollowell, an employee. "We focus on heirloom varieties, which are older, time-tested varieties," she said.
Each vegetable, herb, or flower seed has a history passed down through generations of gardeners and family farmers. "They're treasures of varieties that have been handed down," said Hollowell.
Southern Exposure ships nearly 300,000 seed packets each year.
"We're trying to democratize the seed supply, put the power of seed-saving and seed breeding in the hands of gardeners and small farmers," said Paul Blundell, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange co-manager.
Many of the seeds are cultivated on the company's 72-acre farm, hand-planted in the fields and under the greenhouse. Blundell says the seed exchange's business is experiencing 20-30 percent growth. The company is expanding out of the worker-owned cooperative's living room headquarters into a new facility.
The 30 people who live on the Acorn Intentional Community in Louisa County are part of its entire operation, from planting to packing and building. "We have designed it and are building it as an expression of the culture and values Southern Exposure tries to promote," said Blundell.
The new headquarters features renewable materials and will be energy-efficient and a lot less cramped. "It's going to be a lot more space and then we'll get our living room back," said Hollowell.
Hollowell expects Southern Exchange's business to continue booming to prevent these plants from becoming extinct. "A lot of them might not be available if it weren't for us," said Hollowell.
Southern Exposure hopes to move into their new headquarters in the fall. To see all the seed varietals the company has to offer click here.
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