An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections

Sowing The Seed Underground

Janisse Ray, Chatham University

23 October 2012

In her latest book The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, Janisse Ray writes about the importance of seed-saving to human health, food security and the earth's biodiversity. These two excerpts from Ray's talk at Emory University September 5, 2013 present her narrative as well as insights gleaned from seed-savers she has met across the United States. 



About the Author

Janisse Ray was born in Baxley, Georgia, in 1962 and graduated from the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Montana in 1997. She currently resides in the Altamaha Community of Reidsville, Georgia, and teaches in the low-residency creative writing program at Chatham University. She has published poetry and non-fiction books, including Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (1999). Ray lives and works on a family farm in southern Georgia.

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Recommended Resources

Cary Fowler, "Reaping What We Sow," Southern Changes, 5, no.6 (1983): 14-18.

Tom Hatley, "Tending Our Gardens," Southern Changes, 6, no. 5 (1984): 18-24.

Ray, Janisse. "Waiting for the Tide: Creating an Environmental Community in Georgia." Orion Afield, Summer 1999.

———. Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 1999.

———. Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2005.

———. The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012.

———. Wild Card Quilt: The Ecology of Home. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2004.

International Seed Saving Institute

Janisse Ray

Saving Our Seeds Project

Related Southern Spaces Links
Campbell, Brian C., "'Closest to Everlastin': Ozark Agricultural Biodiversity and Subsistence Traditions." Southern Spaces, September 20, 2010,

Englehardt, Elizabeth. "Forgotten Locavores: Letters and Literature of Market Bulletins." Southern Spaces, July 12, 2012,

Ray, Janisse and Nancy Marshall. "James Holland, Riverkeeper: Environmental Protection along the Altamaha." Southern Spaces, August 11, 2011,

Thompson, Charles D., Jr., with Alexander Stephens, "Visions for Sustainable Agriculture in Cuba and the United States: Changing Minds and Models through Exchange." Southern Spaces, March 20, 2012,

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