Our story

Our Story

Our Story

seedsave.org is the online home for Bill McDorman and Belle Starr, husband and wife, working to promote regional seed solutions.  Together they conceived and founded the original Seed School in 2010 which has now graduated hundreds of new seed citizens.  After being hired to be co-executive-directors of Native Seeds/SEARCH in 2011, they moved the successful 6 day Seed School program to Native Seeds/SEARCH.  They are now again producing Seed School independently of Native Seeds/SEARCH and are now expanding the program to include locations throughout the Rocky Mountain West and the rest of the nation.   They have also announced their first online versions of Seed School.


Creative and passionate custodian of earth ethics

 Committed to social and environmental change for over 30 years.  Skilled in event production, media and government partnerships, grant writing, financial oversight, management, non-profit administration, marketing campaigns and community organizing.  Traversed diverse territory in human relations and developed deep appreciation for collaborative, transformative organizations dedicated to enhancing life on our blue green planet.

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2011 – 2014  Deputy Director – Native Seeds/SEARCH

Responsible for Board Relations, Administrative Oversight and Management, Program Development, Media, Marketing and Outreach.

2010 – 2011   Cofounder & Development Director – Seed School, Cornville, AZ

Designed entire publicity and promotional campaigns. Responsible for financial  oversight and budget. Handled press, marketing and media. Coordinated   actual on-the-ground, day-to-day scheduling, attending to every need of students.   Co facilitated training sessions and spearheaded all aspects of curriculum and  hands on activities.

2006 – 2011 Development Director – Seeds Trust 

Managed outreach, marketing and development. Since actively participating in Seeds Trust, sales have increased almost 100% in three years.  Created new products and strategies for growth. Implement intern program with WWOOF- USA (worldwide opportunities on organic farms). Handled all public relations,media and promotions. Facilitated all events and oversee scheduling and organizational efforts for every aspect of business and educational programs.

Summer 2010   Going to Seed Summer Revival Tour

Developed summer series to promote Seed School and Seeds Trust.  Searched, found and recruited key partners in 12 different cities to co promote lecture  series. Wrote press releases, developed flyer and spearheaded promotional campaign. Set up lecture sites and staffed Seeds Trust booth.

2004 – 2005 Producer of SolFest Southwest – Scottsdale, AZ

Designed and created solar and sustainability festival in Scottsdale. Handled every facet of event production from the ground up including development of partnerships with the City of Scottsdale and Kyocera International. Managed and supervised all campaigns: financial, PR, website, sponsorships, exhibitor sales, children’s programs, site management (design and layout), tent acquisitions, power needs, event guide partnerships, production and distribution and event guide ad sales, admission strategies and all other development programs.

1996 – 2004  Co-producer of SolFest – Hopland, CA

Participated in 7 SolFest events as co-producer. Managed every aspect of event coordination, including sponsorships, exhibitor sales, workshop and keynote recruitment and coordination, press and publicity, media buys, event program ad sales and production, site development, new SolFest projects and children’s area.

1998   Let’s Talk Trash – Statewide Radio PSA Campaign

Conceptualized, wrote and produced year-long statewide celebrity radio public service announcement campaign in partnership with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Media Association, Los Angeles and the Environmental Hotline (800-CLEAN-UP)

1996 – 1997  Cottonwood – Verde Valley Recycles

Coordinator of local recycling organization

1997   Cottonwood – Verde Valley Recycles

Authored, acquired and managed grant for yearlong waste reduction programs in the Verde Valley. Founded local recycling group. Developed community recycling program, environmental business seminar, innovated monthly community lecture series and contributed a weekly environmental newspaper column. Also created ads and strategies for print and radio campaigns.

1992 – 1996 Environmental Action Report

Host and producer of one-minute syndicated environmental radio feature heard in 30 cities nationwide.  Founder & Executive Director of non-profit organization;  the guiding force behind radio feature.

1994   Let’s Talk Trash (the original)/ Consider the Source – Sonoma County Radio PSA Campaign

Conceptualized, wrote and produced year-long county wide radio public service announcement campaign in partnership with Sonoma County Waste Management Agency to promote recycling. Produced and hosted ½ hour weekly interview show.

1975 – 2002 Professional Broadcaster

Radio announcer, music, promotions, assistant program director and producer for various stations in Phoenix and the Bay Area including KBLX and KRQR in San Francisco and KDKB and KYOT in Phoenix.


Direct experience for more than 30 years in the garden seed business.

Depth and diversity of experience and expertise as visionary, executive, educator, consultant and change manager.  Solid track record of substantive accomplishments in founding and growing both profit and nonprofit organizations and managing complex change.  Direct experience for more than 30 years in the garden seed business.  Experienced in all aspects of nonprofit organization management with emphasis on organizational development, strategic planning, financial oversight, fundraising, governance and collaboration. Demonstrated ability to ascertain interests of key stakeholders, coalesce diverse perspectives around unified vision and channel strategy into action. Fundamental commitment to building caring communities, creating learning organizations and investing in the creative powers of people.

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Native Seeds/SEARCH             Executive Director

Tucson, AZ                                   2011 – 2014

  • Oversaw all programs and projects for the 30-year old seed conservation nonprofit and seed bank.
  •  Co-creator (with wife, Belle Starr) of Seed School, an innovative and acclaimed educational program in sustainable seed production and distribution systems based on traditional seed saving practices. Since 2010, Seed School has graduated more than 400 students from around the world.
  • Sought after guest lecturer and teacher on seed saving

Seeds Trust, High Altitude Gardens           Founder & President

Cornville, AZ                                                  1984 – 201

  • Founder and principal of 27 year-old mail order seed company.
  • Created and facilitated all aspects of the business including strategic planning, budgetary and operations management, design and implementation of all collateral materials including seed packages, catalogs and web site
  • Developed and implemented computer software for database, website and ecommerce interface.
  •  Credited with introducing 60 Siberian tomato varieties to the Western World in 1989, many of which are still popular in seed catalogs around the world.

International Seed Saving Institute               Founder & President

Cornville, AZ                                                     1997 – 2011

  • Founder and principal of a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to seed saving, seed saving education and permaculture.
  • Collaborated with Seed and Light International to distribute open-pollinated seed and the knowledge needed for food self-reliance and seed production in poor areas world-wide, including Kyrgyzstan, Congo, Haiti and Honduras.
  • Wrote “Basic Seed Saving”, a 48-page booklet which delivers essential seed saving instructions in an easy-to-understand format.  It has been translated into many languages and distributed with seeds to over 40 countries around the world.

Down Home Project                                           Founder, Director

Missoula, MT                                                       1982 – 1983

  • Conceived and founded the non-profit, wrote the incorporating papers and selected the first Board of Directors.
  • Coordinated fund-raising and purchase of property.
  • Designed and produced the original Garden City Seeds seed catalog, set up operations, hired and trained the original management and staff.

The Down Home Project is now called the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project (MUD). Bill attended the organization’s 30-year anniversary in 2012 as keynote speaker.

Native Seeds/S.E.A.R.C.H.                                      Board of Directors

Tucson, AZ                                                                2010 – 2011

Project Self Reliance                                                Board of Directors

Cornville, AZ                                                               2008 – Present

  • Founding Board member.

Arizona Humanities Council                                     Board of Directors

Phoenix, AZ                                                                2007 – 2011

  • Treasurer, Grant Review Committee and Book Festival Committee.

Sun Valley Writer’s Conference                                 Founders Circle

Sun Valley, ID                                                              1995 – 2004

  • Naturalist and hiking guide in Sun Valley, Idaho area for annual gathering of authors.
  • Planned and coordinated security, transportation, food and first aid for day-hikes into the Idaho wilderness.
  • Clients included Jeff Bezos, David Halberstam, David McCullough, Peter Matthiessen, William Merwin, Frank McCourt, Anne Taylor Flemming, Annie Lamotte and Ethan Canin.

Hailey Cultural Center                                                 Board of Directors Hailey, ID                                                                                                                                                                                                               2004

Idaho Humanities Council                                            Board of Directors

Boise, ID                                                                        1996 – 2000

  • Vice-Chairman,  Member of Executive Committee.
  • Chairman, Finance Committee. Initiated a $5 million endowment fund drive.

Sawtooth Botanical Garden                                          Board of Directors

Ketchum, ID                                                                   1994 – 1996

  • Founding Board member.


Bill has been a passionate, inspiring presenter in classrooms, at conferences and in workshops since 1979.  He has frequently appeared on radio, television and in print. Class and lecture topics included seed saving, cold-climate gardening, plant identification, wild land restoration and the uses of wild, edible and medicinal plants.  Recent cities and venues included the Berkeley Ecology Center, the Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado College in Colorado Springs and Sawtooth Botanical Garden in Hailey, Idaho.

National Aquaponics Conference                           Lecturer

Tucson, AZ                                                               August 2013


Edith A. Belk Lecture in Botany                              Lecturer

Miami University, Oxford, OH                                   December 2012


Organic Seed Conference                                         Lecturer

Port Townsend, WA                                                   January 2012


Fairview Gardens                                                       Lecturer

Santa Barbara, CA                                                      January 2012