Each month we will feature a seed company on this page. We are promoting companies that encourage gardening naturally with landrace and heirloom garden seeds. We also feel that it is important to ensure genetic diversity in our seed supply. That is why we plan to promote smaller seed companies that grow their own seeds, or get them from small scale farmers. For food security, we feel that being able to save your own garden seeds is important. That is why we feature landrace and heirloom seed companies. (If you are an Organic, Landrace, or Heirloom seed company and would like to be listed on our site or featured on this page, contact GardenSeeds.)
March 2017: The Maine Potato Lady
The Main Potato Lady is located in the foothills of Central Maine, the LaCourse Family Farm, home of The Maine Potato Lady™, has been in operation for 20 years. Our 100-acre piece was once part of a 560-acre farm that dates back to the 1600s.
Our custom-designed and hand-built home crowns our hill-top farm, which slopes up from a stream valley a mile down an unpaved country road. The stream feeds the cedar bog which provided the logs for our home. We gathered stones from field edges and milled our own lumber to finish the building, which has sheltered our family for many years. We are pleased to live "off the grid,” with a solar system to provide electricity.
Our south-facing fields are rich with fertile, well-drained silt loam. Our sugar bush produces fabulous maple syrup, and the cedar bog is a special habitat with sphagnum moss and rare pitcher plants. We are privileged to work in this rural environment, where deer, moose, turkey, ravens, eagles and a variety of beautiful trees, plants, and birds are all around us.
The Maine Potato Lady is a certified organic handler through MOFGA Certification Services, LLC. All our seed is untreated. We do not knowingly use or sell any genetically modified plants or organisms (GMOs). Certificate is available on our website.
February 2017: Heirloom Seeds
Heirloom Seeds is a full time farm and online seed company. All 1450+ varieties of heirloom seeds they sell are open pollinated, Non-GMO and untreated. None of the seeds they sell are genetically engineered.
Here is some garden trivia from Heirloom Seeds website:
The sunflower is a native plant of North and South America. The American Indians used it's seed as a source of food. The Incas of Peru, who were sun worshipers, used it in their religious ceremonies. Spanish Conquistadors brought the sunflower seed back to Europe where it became popular for it's ornamental beauty and nutritional worth.
Tomatoes were originally thought to be poisonous and did not gain acceptance in the U.S. until 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a basket full of tomatoes on the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey on September 26, 1820. The assembled crowd expected to see the Colonel drop dead. When he suffered no ill effects, the tomato was on it's way to become the most popular vegetable grown by backyard gardeners today!
The Scarlet Runner bean, which originated in Central America, was grown as an ornamental vine in sixteenth-century Europe.
(Their lush green foliage and scarlet colored flowers are still grown for this purpose.) They were introduced to the United States in the early 1800's and were not used for culinary purposes until later in that century.
Melons were not grown in North America until the European colonists brought them over, probably in the mid 1600's. The so called "melons" the native American Indians grew were really varieties of pumpkins and squash.
Capsaicin is the alkaloid ingredient that gives peppers their heat. The capsaicin content is greater in the hot peppers than the bell peppers. It is also effected by climate conditions, geographic location and the age of the fruit. A pepper grown in warm weather contains a higher amount of capsaicin than the same pepper grown in cooler climates. Higher nighttime temperatures seem to be a must for growing really hot peppers. Also, peppers left on the vine to reach maturity have a higher capsaicin content than those that are picked early.
January 2017: Heirloom Seed Banks
Heirloom Seed Banks, the World’s #1 source for Non-hybrid, Non-GMO heirloom seed banks designed for survival situations. A seed bank from Heirloom Seed Banks will provide you or your loved ones with enough fruit & vegetable seeds to grow an unlimited amount of food over the course of a lifetime. We have various Seed Banks that contain up to 33 varieties of Non-hybrid, Non-GMO heirloom vegetable seeds. These seeds come from farmers in the USA, and are perfect to use for gardening,trade or even surviving a food shortage. Investing in a heirloom seed bank is one of the best ways to ensure food security because they take up little space, can be stored for years and are capable of producing food year after year!
Based on a recent report by National Geographic, there has been a 93% decline in the varieties of heirloom seeds. Large seed corporations have flooded the market with hybrid seeds that are only good for one harvest and will not sprout new seeds! The Heirloom seeds we sell are all natural, and can be regrown year after year. Seed banks from Heirloom Seed Banks are sealed in Mylar, and packaged for long term storage.
December 2016: Garden Medicinals and Culinaries
Garden Medicinals and Culinaries has been serving gardeners, herb growers and herbalists with a fine selection of seeds, roots, supplies and books. Our mission is to promote the ethical propagation, cultivation, and informed use of medicinal and culinary herbs. We specialize in untreated, open-pollinated (non-hybrid) seed and roots, because we believe that seeds belong in the public domain.
We offer over 220 varieties of herb, flower and vegetable seeds and roots, along with the cultural information needed to successfully grow, harvest, and enjoy your crops. The vegetable and flower seeds we offer are select ethnic and heirloom varieties, including some from our breeding program. All of our seed is untreated, some organic, and much is ecologically grown using natural methods.
November 2016: Berea Gardens Agriculture Center
Berea Gardens Agriculture Center believes there are great opportunities today for small-farm profitability and sustainability. Learn how you can become part of the movement to provide healthful, nutrient rich food for your family and community. Check out our proven, comprehensive, science based education programs to help you achieve the best food production. Whether you choose our media materials or our on-farm program, let us help you and your crops grow to their full potential. Our expert perspective is based on more than 40 years of professional experience and training. The principles and practices you will learn work 100% of the time anywhere crops can be grown.
October 2016: The Ark Institute
The Ark Institute believes that true, global sustainability begins with local, personal sustainability and self-reliance. The Ark Institute is dedicated to providing you with a wide selection of NON-hybrid, NON-GMO garden seed varieties for you and your family's self-reliance for years to come. We have researched and identified a large number of "clean" NON-GMO seed varieties, and Geri continues to test them even today in her own personal garden "research labs" year-round. We also have created many user-specific product packages to help to provide you with everything for your specific planting, growing, harvesting, preparing and preserving needs.
September 2016: All Good Things Organic Seeds
All Good Things Organic Seeds offers certified organic, non-GMO vegetable, flower and herb seeds, including improved rare and heirloom varieties sourced directly from our farm in Ojai, California.
All Good Things Organic Seeds' mission is:
- To propagate plant biodiversity. We steward hundreds of plant species at Mano Farm in Ojai, California and offer their organic seeds to our customers. Many of these varieties are hard to find anywhere, let alone in certified organic form.
- To improve existing open-pollinated and heirloom vegetable varieties for better performance in organic farming and organic gardening contexts. Discernment for gardening starts at the level of the seed and quality organic seed is paramount to gardening success. Plant variety improvement is a lifelong journey that frequently takes side quests. A number of farm original varieties have been generated from these detours.
August 2016: The Organic Gardening Catalogue
The Organic Gardening Catalogue is the official catalogue of Garden Organic, Europe's leading organic gardening organisation. The catalogue is run as a joint venture with Chase Organics in Addlestone, Surrey, UK who have been suppliers to organic gardeners for over 80 years.
Why Organic Gardening?
We believe that the best option to protect our food supplies, environment, health and well being is to use organic growing methods. These harness the natural cycles and processes that promote plant growth. Your garden is your own little patch of the world to look after. Most gardens are quite small, but there are 15 million of them in the UK. Imagine the improvement to the environment if all of these gardens were cared for organically, and how much better it would be for our families, plants and wildlife.
Organic growing doesn’t just mean throwing away the chemical weed killers and pesticide sprays. It is more exciting, challenging and satisfying. It is using natural ways to promote a healthy, productive and sustainable growing environment. It involves feeding the soil, encouraging wildlife, and getting creative with nature’s pest and disease controls. It’s not expensive, it’s practical – and it’s good for plants, people and communities.
July 2016: The Austrailian Plant Bank
The Australian PlantBank is a science and research facility of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. It houses the Trust's seedbank and research laboratories that specialise in horticultural research and conservation of Australian native plant species, particularly those from New South Wales.
Many plant species reproduce by seeds. Seeds come in many shapes and sizes, but inside each one is a tiny embryo, surrounded by structures ensuring the greatest chance of its survival. By studying how different seeds germinate and develop into adult plants, scientists can better understand how plants regenerate and survive. This knowledge helps us to produce more plant species for horticulture and agriculture, and assists in the restoration of damaged ecosystems.
For some seeds, germination is simple; it is triggered by warmth and moisture. Other seeds have more complex needs, such as exposure to certain natural compounds or a sequence of different temperatures. To investigate the conditions needed by various plant species, seeds are germinated in the special growth chambers you can see behind this laboratory.
June 2016: Heritage Harvest Seed
Heritage Harvest Seed is a Canadian heirloom/heritage seed mail order company specializing in rare and endangered heirloom/heritage varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs. With over 700 varieties to choose from, we'll surely have something to suit your taste. Over the past decade we have become Canada's #1 source for rare and endangered varieties of heirloom/heritage seed. Our heirloom/heritage tomato collection is among the best in North America!
Heritage Harvest Seed's heirloom/heritage tomato seed collection has grown to include over 200 varieties and it keeps growing every year! We have some of the rarest heirloom/heritage tomato varieties available including the delicious and purple Indian Stripe, Break O' Day, which are very productive and great for canning and the colossal Ferris Wheel, A must for heirloom tomato sandwich lovers.Our heirloom/heritage tomato collection is among the best in North America!
Our heirloom/heritage bean seed collection includes over 90 varieties such as the productive Duane Baptiste Potato Bean, the delicious Pfaelzer Juni and the tasty Kentucky Wonder Pole. Our heirloom/heritage bean collection is one of the largest in North America!
May 2016: Grow Rare Seeds – The Rare Vegetable Seed Consortium
The Rare Vegetable Seed Consortium's chief aim is to establish collections of lesser known and sometimes exceedingly rare food plants. Presently there are about 14,000 species and varieties in The Rare Vegetable Seed Consortium's holdings, and that number is ever climbing.
Survival of biodiversity depends on active growing and seed saving. As Joseph Simcox often remarks, 'In a way, the best seed bank is the very dirt in your back yard'! This is to point out that while formal seed banks do have an important role in safeguarding biodiversity, the most reliable way of ensuring seed viability is to plant it year after year. To that effect, The Rare Vegetable Seed Consortium works to actively promote season-to-season cultivation, seed saving and sharing of its holdings of rare, non-GMO, heirloom genetic material.
We at The Rare Vegetable Seed Consortium are delighted to formally kick-off online seed acquisitions. Some of the varieties offered are extremely rare, therefore, we kindly urge individuals to acquire the material only if they seriously intend to grow out and save and share the seeds, thereby ensuring rare variety survival for all of us.
April 2016: Seeds of Change
Seeds of Change working to make organic seeds available to gardeners. Organic seeds are non-gmo by definition.
Seeds of Change® was founded in 1989 with a revolutionary mission: to make organically grown seeds available to gardeners and farmers, while preserving rare heirloom and traditional seed varieties, and promoting sustainable organic agricultural practices.
Today, nearly a quarter century later, we continue to pursue this mission while expanding it to include a range of certified organic foods. Our line of Certified Organic Rice & Grain Blends and Simmer Sauces were inspired by the notion that great taste and sustainability go hand in hand.
We are excited by the growing popularity and interest in organic gardening and farming, and are proud of the role we play in providing the products and information you need to adopt a healthy organic lifestyle. From the organic seed to the harvest to the plate everything is connected and our choices do matter.
Growing Organic Is Easy. Start by building a healthy soil with compost. It encourages the beneficial microbes to do their job, which helps your plants thrive, creating more flavor and nutrition for you! Beautiful ladybugs help control garden pests and you never have to worry about a chemical residue in your food. Planting flowers or cover crops with your vegetables attracts important pollinators and insect eaters so your harvest will be bountiful.
Choose Organic When you buy or grow organic, you're choosing to improve the health of your family, community and planet by reducing the impact of chemicals on our environment. Together, each of our individual efforts can add up to make a big difference.
March 2016: Native Seeds
Native Seeds/SEARCH is a non-profit seed conservation organization. The goal of this program is to make Native Seeds/SEARCH seeds more widely available for Native Americans to plant and share. The program encourages recipients to save the seeds from the plants they grow. Saving seeds increases the resilience of our food system, and sharing them with others ensures that these seeds will be accessible for future generations.
Native Seeds/SEARCH offers free membership and limited quantities of free seeds to Native peoples living in the Greater Southwest region.
Native Seeds/SEARCH provides only open-pollinated seed varieties. open-pollinated varieties will breed true from seeds, meaning that if grown with care to avoid cross pollination, seed saved from the parent plant will grow with the same characteristics. Seeds from the Native Seeds/SEARCH Seed Bank (tagged on each page as "NS/S Collection") are landrace or heirloom varieties with a long historical connection to the Greater Southwest.
In addition to seeds offered from the Native Seeds/SEARCH Seed Bank, we include open-pollinated species and varieties from outside our collection to broaden our offerings. These heirloom varieties (tagged on each page as "Non-Collection") can perform well in the Greater Southwest even though they do not have a deep historical connection to the region. The distribution of these varieties directly contributes to the conservation of seeds represented in the Native Seeds/SEARCH Seed Bank collection.
February 2016: Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange is working to ensure genetic diversity in our garden seed supply. They do this in two ways: First they have a seed storage facility where they save garden seeds in cold storage, and second they encourage individuals to buy their organic and heirloom seeds and plant them. They then encourage people to save seeds to plant again next year. Why are they doing this?
In the last century or so, the world has lost 75% of its edible plant varieties. That might be hard to perceive when many of us have enough food on our plates, but consider this: According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, only five cereal grains make up 60% of our calories. A system that depends so heavily on so few crops is quite fragile. Think of the Irish Potato Famine – the use of only one variety of potato led to a catastrophe. In 1845, the introduction of a new fungus wiped out the primary source of food in Ireland, leading to the death or emigration of some one-and-a-half million people.
Industrial agriculture, and the chemicals and machines that it employs, has required that farmers and, more often, scientists breed for uniformity in plants and animals. In the United States in particular, genetically engineered plant varieties have had a devastating impact on biodiversity. According to the USDA's Economic Research Service, since their commercial introduction in 1996, use of genetically engineered (GE) crops by US farmers has increased steadily. In fact, in 2013, 170 million acres of GE crops were planted in the US, seeds that are patented and cannot be saved and planted again next year. That’s roughly half of all American cropland.
Seed Savers Exchange conserves biodiversity by maintaining a collection of over 20,000 different varieties of heirloom and open-pollinated plants; varieties with the ability to regenerate themselves year after year. These seeds (and tissue cultures or other plant materials, depending on how a plant reproduces) have the power to withstand unforeseen pestilence and plant disease, climate change, and limited habitat.
January 2016: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has become a tool to promote and preserve our agricultural and culinary heritage. Our company and seeds have been featured in The New York Times, The Associated Press, Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart, The Wall Street Journal, and many others. Our catalogs now distribute to over 700,000 gardeners nationally. We have grown to offer 1,800 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs—the largest selection of heirloom varieties in the USA.
Baker Creek started hosting festivals in 2000 as a way to bring gardeners, homesteaders and natural food enthusiasts together to exchange ideas and seeds. These festivals gave birth to the idea for our pioneer village, Bakersville. Other projects include our trial gardens, seed collecting expeditions, and educational produce exhibits.