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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Ira Wallace

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Raised in Tampa, Florida, by her grandmother, Ira Wallace grew up with lush gardens and a strong appreciation for homesteading. She left Florida after college and traveled around the world throughout the 1960s and 1970s, living on Kibbutz in Israel, farming in Scandinavia and Canada, and then working some land in North Carolina. In 1984, she settled into the rolling hills of Virginia, a place she now calls home. Ira helped found Twin Oaks cooperative farm and then, in 1993, Acorn, the current home of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Though she lives and works in Mineral, Ira travels all over the country to teach workshops about gardening, herbs, farming, and heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. She’s teaching communities about seeds with stories spanning decades, cultures, and traditions. When Ira first took over Southern Exposure from Jeff McCormack in 1999, 17,000 seed catalogues went out to customers. In 2013, 110,000 catalogues will be mailed to seed lovers.

Date of interview:
March 7, 2013

Sara Wood

Sara Wood

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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