Seed School Instructors
Our staff instructors and guest educators are experts in their fields: geneticists, farmers, breeders, seed producers, policy experts, and business owners. Not all instructors teach every Seed School. See individual course details for more info.
Bill McDorman is a co-founder and Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. He is a seed saver, writer, and educator based in Cornville, Arizona. In his nearly 30 years of seed experience, he has co-founded a number of nonprofit projects and seed companies including the Down Home Project, Garden City Seeds, Seeds Trust, High Altitude Gardens, the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens, Seed School, and the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. He is author of the book Basic Seed Saving Bill and his wife Belle Starr were formerly directors of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a seed conservation organization serving the Greater Southwest.
Don Tipping is a dynamic and inspiring instructor with 20 years of experience in organic and biodynamic farming, seed saving, permaculture, eco-forestry and enthusiastic on-farm education. Don is the owner of Siskiyou Seeds and Seven Seeds Farm, where he teaches the Seed Academy. He helped to found the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative which manages a 300 share CSA, commercial seed growing, an equipment co-op and internship curriculum among 12 cooperating farms. Don is also co-founder of the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative, a seed grower, marketing and distribution cooperative comprised of 10 western organic farms.
Casey O’Leary is a self-proclaimed “seed freak” who runs Earthly Delights Farm in Boise and co-founded the Snake River Seed Cooperative. Her Snake River Seed project includes a seed producer’s co-op and seed library, organizes seed-related art projects and events, and teaches classes and workshops on seed saving. Casey is a board member of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance.
Lee-Ann holds a MA in Cultural Ecology from Prescott College where she studied traditional land management with an eye on food systems. After conducting research in New Mexico and working on organic farms in Costa Rica, Lee-Ann currently resides in southwest Colorado where she runs a CSA (community supported agriculture) program at Laughing Wolf farm integrating seed adaptation, water conservation, and landscape regeneration. Lee-Ann is also a graduate of RMSA’s Seed School Teacher Training and Grain School programs. As Special Projects Coordinator for RMSA, she produced the Mountain West Seed Summit and oversees the Seed Stewards program, Heritage Grain Trials and performs research for RMSA.
Benjamin Fahrer is a 20-year veteran organic farmer, seed saver, permaculture instructor, and educator. He has a keen ability to read the landscape and recognize natural patterns to help build ecological landscapes and farms and has gained international recognition in facilitating educational trainings around the world. He is now translating these land and life lessons into the urban environment in California with Top Leaf Farms, a licensed contracting company that designs, builds, and operates urban farms with a focus on innovative rooftop farming and ecological services. Benjamin attended the first Seed School and has since been a key collaborator with RMSA as a facilitator for Seed School Teacher Training courses and the Mountain West Seed Summit.
Joseph is a playful blant breeder, growing seed for nearly 100 species of plants in Paradise, UT. He has been a sustenance market farmer and landrace seed developer, and wrote the Landrace Gardening Blog for Mother Earth News. He is working to convert every species that he grows into adaptive landraces.
Dr. Steve Alston, a self-proclaimed mad scientist, works by day as a Product Specialist at W.L. Gore and Associates in Flagstaff, AZ. After hours he puts his mad scientist skills to use in the garden and kitchen, cultivating unusual plants and baking Old World breads with wild yeasts and ancient grains.
Jackee Alston holds degrees in range ecology and wildlife conservation, which have never been too distant from growing food and designing permaculture gardens. She is RMSA’s Operations Coordinator, a Master Gardener, a botany instructor, co-editor of the AZ Daily Sun’s Gardening, Etc. column, and the founder of the Grow Flagstaff! Seed Library.
Evan Sofro served as Farm Manager of Native Seeds/SEARCH in Patagonia, Arizona where he also conducted agricultural research on drought resistance and environmental adaptations in seeds and grains. Evan has experience conducting crop assessments, evaluations, variety trials, phytosanitary crop inspection, and managing complex research fields, and grows grains for RMSA’s Heritage Grain Trials Project at the River Farm in Buhl, Idaho.
Jill Bishop believes seed security is key to food security. She works to build stronger local seed saving networks, teach seed saving skills, and inspire the confidence in others to get growing and saving heirloom seeds. She happily grows locally adapted seed on her urban seed farm in Ontario, Canada. https://urbantomato.ca/
Steve Peters has decades of organic agricultural experience under his belt. He spent nine years as a Research Agronomist at the Rodale Institute Research Center, 15 years as Seed Production Manager at Seeds of Change, and many more working independently as a farmer, seed advocate, consultant, and educator. He works as an independent contractor for the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA), as well as running Seed rEvolution Now!
Chrissie Orr, born in Scotland, is an artist, animateur and a beautiful trouble-maker who has spearheaded innovative community projects internationally. She is the co-founder of the Institute for Living Story and faculty of the Academy for the Love of Learning in New Mexico, and co-founder of SeedBroadcast. In her spare time she grows ancient varieties of corn to learn new ways of being in this world.