by Raven Glomus
Ira Wallace is amazing. She helped found the Acorn community, where she lives to this day. She also has been a major force in the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Acorn’s business, which has been booming during the pandemic, and helped start the Heritage Harvest Festival, a big agricultural exposition in Virginia. The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) recently inducted her into their hall of fame. Here’s some relevant pieces from their press release, along with a picture of Ira who, in spite of age and disability, continues working and inspiring folks.
The North American Students of Cooperation Inducts 2020 Hall of Fame
The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) is the bi-national federation that educates and organizes youth and emerging leaders to create and care for co-ops in the US and Canada. On Friday, November 6, 2020 at the annual NASCO Cooperative Education and Training Institute, held online, four cooperators were honored as inductees in the NASCO Cooperative Hall of Fame. The NASCO Hall of Fame, created in 1989, provides broader recognition to individuals who have made a truly significant impact within the cooperative movement. NASCO is proud to honor the 2020 inductees:
Ira Wallace, Founder
Ira Wallace has a lifetime of history in the cooperative movement. Ira has been a member of Acorn Community since the beginning of the community and was instrumental to its founding. Acorn is a 27-year-long experiment in egalitarianism based on living cooperatively with each other and the environment in a non-hierarchal fashion, located on 72 acres of certified organic land in Central Virginia.
Ira is also a prime mover and shaker behind Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE), a worker-coop seed company owned by Acorn that specializes in preserving and propagating heirloom seeds by getting the seeds and practice of seed saving into generations of future gardeners. Ira started saving herb and flower seeds in the 1970s 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. 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. Ira also started the Heritage Harvest Festival in a back lot at Monticello 12 years ago and worked to grow it to a premier celebration of a vision of America of small farmers and gardeners.
When I posted this on Facebook, we got a few comments. Here’s what folks wrote, including some replies from me:
(This was in reference to a post on feasting at East Wind and Cara, a former East Winder, said that she “met Ira the first month I was there, she came for some conference or exchange – and she made the most amazing pastries! and we realized I knew her daughter – I’d met her in college”)