Looking for heirloom seeds? Check out Seed Savers Exchange

Leah Miller's picture

Looking for some new or different seeds for your Fall garden activities or planning for next year's Farmers' Markets? You might want to check out the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. I had the opportunity to visit them in June. I was familiar with their catalog and heirloom vegetable seeds. Their 890 acre farm highlighted the dedication and the vision that Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy had when they started the exchange of saved garden seeds 35 years ago. Diane’s grandfather shared two rare garden seeds that he had saved from his immigrating family from Bavaria in 1870s. This beginning opened the opportunity for seeds to be exchanged from gardening immigrants from many countries throughout the world. The mission of “Passing on Our Garden Heritage” has made Seed Savers into the source for more than 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties. The exchange is the largest non-governmental seed bank in United States. In addition to the garden seeds, the farm hosts over 200 varieties of pre-1900 apples and grapes in their orchard. The Lillian Goldman visitor center serves as the entrance to the educational center and the Heritage Farm, home of the newly established heritage poultry collection of chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. One chicken breed of note is the Buckeye chicken that Nettie Metcalf from Ohio developed in 1890s. The Ancient White Park cattle have been part of the farm for a number of years.  The membership based organization has an annual yearbook that lists all the varieties available as well as their seed catalog. Check them out at: http://www.seedsavers.org.

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