How to Save Collard Seeds

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2021: $49,775.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Utopian Seed Project
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Chris Smith
The Utopian Seed Project
How To Save Collard Seeds explores seed saving, seed growing and seed heritage in the Southeast USA. Interviews with farmers and growers across the south tell a story of seed heritage deeper than any one variety. Take a deep dive into saving collard seeds to learn both the technical side of saving seeds and the reasons why it's so important. Brassica oleracea var. vidris Collards heralded from the cold climate of Northern Europe and arrived in New England in the early days of colonization. Originally called coleworts and later known as collards, this food crop was considered inferior to its close relative, the cabbage. When collards made their way to the southeast via the east coast seed trade, they were readily adopted by enslaved Africans. Collards may not have been something they were already familiar with, but a culinary tradition of cooking with dark leafy greens and an appreciation of their nutritive sustenance resonated with African cooks. The Heirloom Collard Project has done extensive work to document the legacy of collards and profile the incredible diversity of this distinctly African American crop - learn more at In 2021 The Utopian Seed Project and Communal Studios received a grant from Southern SARE to create a Southeast Seed video series. The project traveled across 12 states and interviewed over 50 farmers, community gardeners, seed savers, seed growers and seed advocates. The footage was weaved together to tell the story and seed saving of six southern crops: corn, okra, southern peas, collards, sweet potatoes and squash. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2020-38640-31521 through the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number LS21-351. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Learn more at
Target audiences:
Farmers/Ranchers; Educators
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.