The Top Five Heirloom Seed Companies

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Welcome to 2018!

The holiday season is behind us and the new year is ahead, so our thoughts turn to a release from Winter’s grip. We are looking forward to digging into the soil in the Spring. With that in mind, we are requesting seed catalogs from some of our favorite companies and we want to share them with you! A few companies no longer offer print catalogs, but their online selection is robust and easy to navigate.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds absolutely must be at the top of our list. We had great success with their Mortgage Buster tomato. We also appreciated their excellent search function and used it to search for state names in our region. This is a way to clue in on varieties that will grow well for us. Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties. The company has become a tool to promote and preserve our agricultural and culinary heritage. The 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. Gardeners can request a free color catalog. The catalogs now distribute to over 700,000 gardeners nationally.

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve purchased from other companies but I always go back to Baker Creek. However, here are some of the companies we’ve used and appreciated plus a couple of highly recommended providers that we have not yet tried.

High Mowing Seeds ~ High Mowing Organic Seeds began in 1996 with just 28 varieties, many of which originated in founder Tom Stearns’ backyard. Since then, the company has grown exponentially, and what started as a one-man operation is now a thriving business making available to home gardeners and commercial growers over 600 heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrid varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seed. True to their roots, High Mowing Organic Seeds continues to grow many of the varieties we sell on their 40 acre farm, setting them apart from the majority of other seed companies.

Seed Savers Exchange ~ Seed Savers Exchange was founded in Missouri in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy. Diane’s grandfather entrusted to them the seeds of two garden plants, ‘Grandpa Ott’s’ morning glory and ‘German Pink’ tomato. These seeds, brought by Grandpa Ott’s parents from Bavaria when they immigrated to Iowa in the 1870s, became the first two varieties in the collection. Diane and Kent went on to form a network of gardeners interested in preserving heirloom varieties and sharing seeds. Today, with 13,000 members and 20,000 plant varieties, Seed Savers Exchange makes its home on 890 scenic acres in Winneshiek County, Iowa, at Heritage Farm.

Victory Seed Company ~ VSC maintains their own farm and what seed they don’t raise, they obtain from a network of carefully selected growers. They then store the seed under controlled conditions until they are shipped out to you. The packaging, with an inner resealable bag, reflects how they work to maintain the viability of your seeds. They offer a good selection, reasonable prices, high quality open-pollinated and heirloom seeds.

Annie’s Heirloom Seeds ~ Annie’s has a wonderful history and you’d almost certainly enjoying reading it on their “About Us” page. Their varieties are grown and tested to ensure high germination rates and excellent produce. Julie (granddaughter to Annie) has spent years finding seed sources and buying the best so that she can support other small farmers. When a variety is difficult to find, she turns to raising it herself so she can preserve them for future generations.

I’m sure you can find many more heirloom seed producers through an internet search or by networking locally. I’ve confined myself to this list because I know and trust these companies. In addition, they all carry varieties that will work well for us here in Wisconsin.

Please leave a comment sharing your favorite sources for seeds.

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