2016 Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award: Ira Wallace
Since 1999 Wallace has co-managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Over that time, SESE grew the annual publishing output from 17,000 catalogs to 110,000. A leading source for open-pollinated seeds, SESE now distributes 700 varieties raised on 50 family farms.
Wallace has catalyzed national dialogues about democratizing seed supply and ensuring a living wage for farmers; she serves on the boards of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VAPF), Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, and Organic Seed Alliance.
She is a founder of the Acorn Community in Mineral, Virginia, “An egalitarian, income-sharing, secular, anarchist, feminist, consensus-based intentional community supporting radical sharing, positive communication, compassion, consent culture, sustainability, and anti-oppression activism.”
Wallace grew up in Tampa, Florida where fruit trees flourished year round. She graduated from New College in Sarasota, and has lived across the world, from Israel to Scandinavia, Canada to North Carolina. A seed-saver turned oral-historian, Wallace is passionate about the genetics and the stories embedded in heirloom seeds. Her vacations often revolve around visiting farms to source seeds.
Dedicating her life to cooperative living, equality, and ecology, Wallace is both a master gardener and prominent voice in the organic farming movement, and the author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast. She teaches workshops for amateurs and professionals alike, and is a recipient of the Kozeny Communitarian Award by the Fellowship for Intentional Community.
It is high time that we, too, recognize Ira Wallace as a food world hero any thinking eater should know.