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.
Rowen White is a Seed Keeper/farmer from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and a passionate activist for indigenous seed and food sovereignty. She is the Educational Director and lead mentor of Sierra Seeds and is the National Program Coordinator for the Indigenous Seed Keeper Network, an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. Rowen has a deep commitment to approaching food systems revitalization with a cultural context. Rowen’s passion is in teaching and mentoring, and has developed many curricula which focus on holistic, indigenous permaculture based approach to seed stewardship which honors the many layers of seed culture; from practical hands-on skills, cultural context and memory with guiding principles that are rooted in an indigenous ecology of relations. She teaches and facilitates creative seed stewardship immersions around the country within tribal and small farming communities, as well as offering an online distance learning seasonal mentorship called Seed Seva. She weaves stories of seeds, food, culture and sacred Earth stewardship on her blog, Seed Songs. Follow her seed journeys at www.sierraseeds.org.
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.
Belle Starr is a co-founder and Deputy Director of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. She has a background in media, public relations, community organizing and nonprofit management. Belle was co-producer of the seminal sustainability festival SolFest in Northern California for 7 years, and in the early 90s she produced and hosted the nationally syndicated environmental radio feature, the Environmental Action Report. Along with Bill McDorman, Belle is the co-founder of Seed School.
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.