Ira Wallace is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE). Ira started saving herb and flower seeds in the 1970's and became professionally involved in the seed business in 1998. At SESE she coordinates education and outreach as well as co-managing variety selection and new seed grower contracts with SESE’s network of 70+ seed producing farms. Ira also conducts variety trials for SESE and researches and documents the history of varieties offered in the annual catalog. Southern Exposure offers over 700 varieties of open-pollinated heirloom and organic (500+ USDA certified organic) seeds selected for flavor and regional adaptability. It is the oldest company in the southeast focusing on heirloom, organic, open-pollinated seeds. Since 1983 Southern Exposure has been helping people in the southeast get control of their food supply by supporting sustainable home and market gardening, seed saving, and preserving heirloom varieties.
In 1993 Ira co-founded Acorn Community, the home of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. It is located on 72 acres of certified organic land in Central Virginia, growing seeds, alliums, hay, and conducting variety trials for Southern Exposure. She is also an organizer of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, a fun, family-friendly event featuring an old-time seed swap, local food, hands-on workshops and demos, and more.Ira was one of nine cooperators with the Southern SARE-sponsored Saving Our Seeds project. She presents at events sponsored by the Virginia Association of Biological Farmers (VABF), Virginia Master Gardeners, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), Organic Growers School in NC, the Mother Earth News Fairs, and Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG). Ira was the Mid-Atlantic regional correspondent for the Mother Earth News gardening almanac in the nineties. She currently writes about heirloom vegetable varieties for magazines and blogs including Mother Earth News, Fine Gardening and Southern Exposure. Her book The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast was published in December 2013 and is available at book sellers everywhere.