ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Seed Savers Exchange names Mike Bollinger executive director

Bollinger has served on the board of Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services since 2013. He previously served as a board member of the Oneota Community Food Co-op and Iowa Food Hub.

staff-mike-bollinger.jpg
Mike Bollinger
Contributed / Seed Savers Exchange
We are part of The Trust Project.

Mike Bollinger of Decorah, Iowa, was recently named as executive director of Seed Savers Exchange by its board of directors.

Bollinger has served on the board of Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES, now known as Marbleseed) since 2013. He previously served as a board member of the Oneota Community Food Co-op and Iowa Food Hub. 

“As Seed Savers Exchange takes on new opportunities ahead, Mike brings a commitment to SSE’s mission for seed preservation, sharing and education, as well as a proven track record as a service-oriented leader,” said Neil Hamilton, SSE board chair. “We look forward to the next chapter of SSE’s legacy under his leadership.”

Bollinger has a long connection with Seed Savers Exchange, according to a press release from the organization. He has served as a member of SSE’s garden crew and has contracted as a seed producer for the organization. For more than a decade, he has collaborated as the primary producer of transplants for the SSE annual plant sale with his wife, Katie Prochaska, through River Root Farm, the certified organic farm they founded in 2009 in Decorah. He has also provided support to SSE on greenhouse design and organic production practices.

“I look forward to working with SSE staff to continue the good work of educating, supporting, and empowering diverse communities of gardeners, advocating for organic and sustainable practices, and bringing people together to address the pressing issues we currently face,” said Bollinger. “I believe that agriculture has the single biggest impact on the global environment and holds the greatest promise for addressing important issues such as climate change and feeding a growing population.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Bollinger’s work history includes co-founding Four Season Tools in 2008 in Kansas City, Missouri, an agriculture solutions and greenhouse-manufacturing company for which he served as agricultural specialist until 2015. He has also held positions as farm designer and general manager of Heritage Prairie Farm in Illinois, farm manager of Chicago Botanic Garden Green Youth Farm, farm manager of Four Season Farm in Maine, and resident steward of Good Life Center in Maine. He has provided agricultural consultation to the Chicago Botanic Garden and several other organizations and farms working to meet the growing demand for organic food and products.

It was while serving as a volunteer in the Republic of Mali in Africa in 2003 that he witnessed the devastation of food insecurity firsthand. 

“I was in an area of Mali where the majority of people were subsistence farmers growing their own food,” said Bollinger. “Their main staples for corn and millet, with seasonal access to peanuts and dried fish—food access and the lack of diverse calories was a real concern.” 

Joining the SSE garden crew at its Heritage Farm headquarters upon his return to the United States provided a different perspective. 

“There was such true abundance here—the genetic diversity that was here and the preservation efforts that were taking place were outstanding,” he said. “Seed Savers Exchange helped me learn not only about gardening but also about health and the importance of genetic preservation.”

“I feel honored to have the opportunity to speak to a broader community about the work that Seed Savers Exchange does, the numerous reasons this work is so necessary, and the organization’s vision for the future of agriculture,” he said. “I hope to use the knowledge, skill set, and network I have developed to help Seed Savers Exchange engage with and uplift our local, regional, and national communities.” 

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREIOWAFOOD
Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
What to read next
The labor intensive nature of the work, the length of time it takes for an evergreen tree in North Dakota to grow to a saleable height, and the competition from “big box” stores are deterrents to raising Christmas trees, said Tom Claeys, North Dakota state forester.
This week on AgweekTV, as our Thankful for Ag series continues, we'll visit a farm that's helping find a cure for Huntington's Disease with some very special sheep. We'll meet a family who's thankful for "the little things." Commodity groups come together to promote sustainability. And a North Dakota tree farm is growing Christmas cheer.
Meat cutting courses at Ridgewater College and Central Lakes College are helping train the next generation of meat processing professionals, but more work is needed to build a more resilient system.
The expansion northwest of Fargo, North Dakota, will allow Peterson Farms Seed to more quickly moving process bulk soybean seed for its dealers, the company said in a news release.