Southwest Virginia farmer Jack Woodworth has been growing seed for SESE since 2003, but his seedsaving work goes back much further, to his gardening years in Connecticut. One year he wasn’t able to get a favorite tomato from a seed company due to a crop failure, and that got him seriously started on saving his favorite varieties.
Jack keeps a collection of over 400 varieties that he brings along to seed swaps like the Appalachian Farmers Market Association in Bristol, Tennessee, and Bill Best’s annual seed swap at the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, Kentucky. Besides his enthusiastic support of seed swaps, Jack gives talks on seed saving and helps out many local farming groups.
A dedicated dairyman, Jack’s never been away from the herd for more than 3 days in the last 20 years, ever since he and his wife Andrea started their goat dairy on 80 acres in Gate City, VA. They milk 40-45 goats, making artisanal cheeses for restaurants, farmers markets, and Highlands Bioproduce, a CSA that fellow SESE grower Carl Kling also contributes to. Besides goats, there are also Jacob sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits, herding dogs, and many other critters… it’s a busy farm! Jack’s food and seed crops never get as much time as he’d like, but he still manages to grow many crops a year. Beans and tomatoes are special favorites, and peppers get some love as well – Jack helped introduce “Trindidad The Timber Press Guide to Perfume” spice pepper to SESE.