How to Save Okra 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 Okra 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 okra to learn both the technical side of saving seeds and the reasons why it's so important. This video features Jon Jackson of Comfort Farms and his West African Okra variety named, Motherland Okra. Abelmoschus esculentus (also A. caillei aka West African Okra) Okra’s beautiful flowers betray it as a close relative to hibiscus, whose genus it was previously categorized within. Okra’s botanical origins are disputed between East Africa and Northeast Asia, but despite it’s possible origin stories, we know the mucilaginous pod crossed the Atlantic during the slave trade and made its way from Brazil, to the Carriabean and into the Southeast of North America. Regardless of its mixed culinary appreciation, okra has found a home in the pickles, gumbos and multitude of fried okra dishes across the Southeast. Edible leaves, flowers and seeds make okra a versatile garden plant. Easy to grow, heat loving and drought tolerant, okra presents in a wide diversity of pod and plant shapes and colors. 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.