The foundation of your gardening efforts begin with seeds.
Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed on and saved from generation to generation around the world. Heirlooms have a story and are part of our culinary and horticultural heritage. We feel they are our cultural foot prints on earth – and each variety comes with a story (and sometimes a song).
We where seed savers by necessity. Our grandparents and their parents selected the best plants from which they saved the seeds. Seeds where traded between neighbors and passed down to each new generation. Gardeners from every corner of the world stashed seeds in the lining of their suitcases, sown into clothing, and even woven into their hair-do, as a reminder of their heritage in unknown lands. It also ensured you could enjoy a traditional dish once settled in.
Untold numbers of old-time varieties and priceless genetic characteristics have been lost because elderly gardeners don’t have family members interested in growing or maintaining these living heirlooms.
The good news is that during the last decade several grassroots genetic preservation projects have started to reverse these loses by collecting and distributing heirloom varieties. You can even find them in seed catalogs which makes it easy to get in on growing heirlooms.
You can check out a list of our favorite heirlooms here. The unique colors, taste, and shapes have always been a conversation started in our gardens.
Gaining an understanding of the source and breeding of seeds will assist you in taking the first steps to farming with your fork and supporting seeds companies working to keep this ancient art of seed saving and breeding alive. We encourage you to choose heirlooms in order to keep the stories (and yummy flavors) alive.
Do you have a family “seed” story? Please share with us in the comments section below.
Dovanna Dean is a permaculture geek.