As we begin a new year and a new season of Dirt Rich, we thought it would be fitting to start with seeds. Zachary Paige farms and operates North Circle Seeds in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. North Circle Seeds is newly certified organic and is committed to creating an ecologically diverse, equitable, and inclusive food system.
A deep interest in seeds and seed saving sparked for Zachary about eight years ago after working on farms and noticing that seed saving was not necessarily a part of many operations who otherwise used sustainable practices. He pursued a variety of seed saving and sustainable food production education opportunities, including a master’s degree plant breeding. After arriving in Minnesota, he found a home with fellow growers and seed savers. He also worked with the White Earth Land Recovery Project, an experience that highlighted the value of community and diversity in seed saving. To him, “the magic happens” when folks meet up, sit in a circle, and share what they’re working on and learning.
Drawing on his experiences and knowledge passed on from Native seed keepers and other Minnesota growers, he started North Circle Seeds as a company and seed collective in 2019. In our conversation, Zachary shares his passion for seed saving: the biology and genetics, the camaraderie, the curiosity and constant learning, the ecological value, and the good food that can come from it. He also offers advice for aspiring seed savers. “It’s a glass half-full kind of thing to get into.”
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