Episode 44: Dr. Mehmet Öztan


by Rodney Wilson

Hobby Farms Presents: Growing Good, Dr. Mehmet Öztan

In this episode of Hobby Farms Presents: Growing Good, Dr. Mehmet Öztan talks seed justice, selecting seeds for saving, the Seedy Talks speaker series, and his work as an underrepresented minoritized farmer in West Virginia.

Hear about how Dr. Öztan went from receiving a PhD in civil engineering to starting Two Seeds in a Pod heirloom seed company with his wife, Dr. Amy Thompson, all because he wanted to recreate the flavors he remembered from his childhood in Turkey. He shares the challenges of tracking down seeds and histories of vegetable and herb varieties whose stories are largely passed down by oral tradition. 

Listen—with horror—to Dr. Öztan’s story about that time he got a call that a cow was loose in his garden on leased land and appreciate other complexities of growing and maintaining rare and culturally significant seeds. Get Dr. Öztan’s advice for selecting the plants from which you want to save seeds and understand what it takes to get a variety ready for commercial availability.

Go behind the scenes in the seed industry, from Dr. Öztan’s take on how your seed purchases shape the seed industry to navigating seed importation and accessing USDA germplasm seed banks, plus the problematic nature of seed expeditions. 

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Finally hear about the Seedy Talks seed-justice conversation series that Dr. Öztan hosts as part of his work at West Virginia University.

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