Dr. James Veteto – Executive Director
Dr. James Veteto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Western Carolina University. He began seed saving in 1996, when he first grew out Southern Seed Legacy (SSL) heirloom seeds on a farm just outside of Athens, Georgia. Upon receiving his B.A. in anthropology in 1998 from the University of Georgia (UGA), Jim moved the mountains of western North Carolina and worked as a farmer and educator. He was head of the vegetable garden at Mountain Gardens in 1998-99 and was the director of the garden program at The Arthur Morgan School from 2000-03, where he initiated an heirloom gardening program for middle school students. From 2003-05 he was a graduate assistant and farm manager for the Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm at Appalachian State University, where he created an Appalachian heirloom teaching garden with the help of undergraduate students. His M.A. Thesis (2005) was entitled The History and Survival of Traditional Heirloom Vegetable Varieties and Strategies for the Conservation of Crop Biodiversity in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina. In 2005, Jim returned to the UGA to pursue his Ph.D. in anthropology under the guidance of Robert Rhoades, Virginia Nazarea, and Gary Paul Nabhan. From 2005-08, he coordinated the SSL and in 2010 produced a dissertation entitled Seeds of Persistence: Agrobiodiversity, Culture, and Conservation in the American South, which examined the persistence of heirloom seeds and fruit trees among Appalachian and Ozark gardeners, including comparative case studies of the Eastern and Western Cherokee. In the Spring of 2010, after the passing of his mentor Dr. Robert Rhoades, it was decided that Jim would bring the SSL to the University of North Texas and direct the organization in which he had got his start in seed saving in 1996. Dr. Veteto has collected over 1000 seeds across the American South, nearly 100 oral histories, and grows out between 50-120 heirloom varieties each gardening season.
Shane Maxson – Outreach Coordinator
Shane Maxson has been involved in sustainable agriculture since 1996 when he worked on his first organic farm. Since those days he has managed multiple food cooperatives across the country, trained co-op managers on cooperative leadership, worked on sustainable vegetable and dairy farms, and done marketing both in the nonprofit and private sector.
Shane is passionate about regional food. “There is a connection missing between those who grow our food and the means in which we get it.” he says. While working in the retail food world Shane focused on building direct relationships with the growers, fisherman, ranchers, and producers in an effort to decrease the number of hands food passed through.