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EP. 23: Dr. William Woys Weaver and the Roughood Seed Collection

EP. 23: Dr. William Woys Weaver and the Roughood Seed Collection

Dr. William Woys Weaver is an internationally known food historian and author of 22 books including:

  • Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: A Master Gardener’s Guide to Planting Seed Saving, and Cultural History
  • 100 Vegetables and Where They Came From, and
  • As American As Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine

Dr. Weaver lives in the 1805 Lamb Tavern in Devon, Pennsylvania where he maintains a jardin potager in the style of the 1830s featuring over 5,000 varieties of heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs. He is an organic gardener, a life member of Seed Savers Exchange, and for many years served as a Contributing Editor to Gourmet, Mother Earth News, and The Heirloom Gardener. 

From 2002 to 2010, he lectured on Food Studies at Drexel University and is presently lecturing on regional American cuisine in connection with a non-profit academic research institute organized under the name The Roughwood Center for Heritage Seedways. Dr. Weaver received his doctorate in food ethnography at University College Dublin, Ireland, the first doctorate awarded by the University in that field of study.

In the winter of 2013, Owen had just moved to Philadelphia. A friend introduced him to Dr. Weaver and he hired him to care for his gardens and the Roughwood Seed Collection. During his four years working with him, Owen was fascinated by slow walks through the garden where he could reveal 10,000 years of human history in each plant story. It was here that Owen first learned how to carefully select and midwife the seeds of these countless storied species. We started a seed catalog and grew for a couple other companies. Dr. Weaver’s work with seeds often connects and reconnects gardeners and farmers with seeds that help tell their own stories. One of the best examples is making the Horace Pippin peppers available to African American growers in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as Pennsylvania Dutch and Lenni Lenape heirlooms from Southeastern Pennsylvania. 




Seeds And Their People is a radio show where we feature seed stories told by the people who truly love them. Hosted by Owen Taylor of Truelove Seeds and Chris Bolden-Newsome of Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden.




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  • Dr. William Woys Weaver
  • Ruth Kaaserer
  • Cecilia Sweet-Coll

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