SG522 Julia Coffey Profile at Seeds Trust

SG522 Julia Coffey Seeds Trust

Julia Coffey

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In this weeks episode of Still Growing (SG522), we meet Julia Coffey.

In 2011, Julia Coffey bought the Seeds Trust Seed Company from her mentor and seed saving pioneer Bill McDorman.

Passionate, eloquent, and a yoga teacher to boot, Julia’s deep love for nature inspires her every single day.

If you’ve never given seeds much thought – you’re appreciation, wonder, and regard for seeds is about to change. 


“When you talk about seeds, it’s so easy to get into all these crazy metaphors.

Seeds are kind of inspiring little beings, I suppose. And, the way that they can plant and germinate – they’re a really great metaphor for life and ideas and stuff like that.

And, that’s kind of the way I got into yoga in that these little ideas kind of sprouted. A lot of them were steps in me finding out who I was and kind of letting that seed grow – that “me seed”.

Seeds Trust

  • The Seeds  Trust Story (13:10) 

“It started with Bill McDorman. In his efforts to find the best seed, he actually came across a startling figure. He discovered that we were in danger of losing 90% of our biodiversity in our agriculture. He’s devoted his entire life to reversing that statistic.”

  • The Story of Sasha’s Altai Tomato (14:30)

Sasha's Altai Tomato Seeds Trust


  • Biodiversity and Seeds (21:50)

“The situation with our biodiversity is one of the most important issues any of us could be talking about, thinking about, participating in – because that’s our lifeline.

Genetics 101 is you’re only as strong as your genetic diversity. A recent study shared that we have lost 96% of our biodiversity in agriculture… and that 75% of our nutrition – our calories – comes from 4 crops worldwide: wheat, rice, corn, and soy. That’s scary because Mother Nature never puts all of her eggs in one basket.”  

  • Seeds (29:44)

“The thing that touches me most about seeds – and helps me come back to how incredible they are – is the fact that they are (as Bill loves to say) living. breathing. embryos.

The potential in a seed is almost unfathomable.

I, every day, sit around hundreds of jars of seeds and the energy in the room is almost palpable. Like, these little guys – they’re not inert lifeless little balls.

They have a potential energy in them that the future generations – all our future generations – count on. So that little seed will replicate hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times over. That little tiny thing – you plant it, a parent comes up, and the cycle continues. It’s just a little representation of the entire life cycle in the history of that plant.

They are little time capsules that have a future as well. So, when I think about how sophisticated that technology is… it blows me away. Especially, when we think of (and, Bill likes to say this too) we’re all kind of surprised and impressed by a computer chip. Well… you think about the self replicating nature of a seed – it’s much more sophisticated and complicated than a chip. To come back to that, to know that nature created that, and that it’s something that we foster and have a relationship with – that’s one of the most impressive things to me about seeds.”

  • Seed Expiration Dates (32:30)

“Every year that goes by, their viability does decrease. But, you have to have faith in the seed. These guys were made to face the elements, to sprout when they needed to – to hold off when they needed to. So it could be the case that one seed is not viable but that might not be the case for all of them. Give them a chance. You never know.”

  • Seed libraries ( 34:00)

“When somebody sends me seed, it’s a precious gift. I do feel obligated to keep it going or pay attention to it. It’s kind of like people are trusting you with something they care about. That’s the energy I get and I want to respect it.” 

  • Adapting Seeds (42:00) 
  • From Seed to Seed – The Complete Lifecycle (44:00)
  • Handling Crop Failures & Ensuring Success (47:00)
  • First-time Seed Saving (51:50)
  • Seeds as Plant Predictors (54:10)
  • The Glass Gem Corn Story (57:40)

Glass Gem Corn Seeds Trust

Connect with Julia:

Mentioned on the Show:

Outakes: Tall Tales, Little Giants

Reading, Writing, Arithmatic…. and Gopher Basketball: Will and John get quizzed on the Golden Gopher basketball team roster

Still growing...

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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