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Seedy Talks with Kristyn Leach: Race, Culture and Language of Seeds

Korean American farmer and seed saver Kristyn Leach will be the next speaker of Seedy Talks. The series’ fourth installment will take place on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. via Zoom. The speaker series is organized by Mehmet Öztan, service assistant professor of geography. Contact to register. 

About the talk
In the fourth installment of Seedy Talks, Kristyn Leach of Namu Farm (Winters, California) will discuss her farming practices that are deeply rooted in her Korean identity and how these practices speak to environmental justice, food justice and sustainable agriculture. Leach will take the audience to a journey of seed stewardship emphasizing hard work and integrity.

Kristyn Leach
About the speaker
Born in Daegu, South Korea, in 1982, Kristyn Leach was adopted as an infant by an Irish Catholic family in the Northeast and grew up in New York. While attending the Fashion Institute of Technology, she got involved with New York City’s urban community garden movement via the Food Not Bombs initiative. At this time, she also joined the resistance against Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s attempts to auction community garden sites.

Leach ate Korean food for the first time at the age of 19. This is when she became curious about growing Korean crops and began reading cookbooks, investigating culturally important Korean vegetables and herbs.
She grew 깻잎 (kkaennip), a staple Korean herb (also known as perilla) for the first time, when she moved to the state of Washington. After moving to California, she managed a lettuce farm where she also grew kkaennip for Namu Gaji, a Korean-owned restaurant in San Francisco. Inspired by her partnership with Namu Gaji, in 2011, Leach founded the Namu Farm in Sunol Ag Park of Alameda County, California. Two years later, she visited Heuksalim, an organic seed research institute in Korea, to observe the diversity of the seeds kept in the institute’s vault.

Now located in Winters, California, the farm quickly became an iconic center of agrobiodiversity of traditional Asian crops. Leach works with Asian American communities on the West Coast to further her efforts in environmental justice, food justice and sustainable agriculture projects which are inspired by more than 4,000 years of Asian teachings of farming.