Seed saving is a great way to protect your pocketbook and your food supply. I am slowly learning how to save seeds and perpetuate the success of my garden. There are many reasons (personal, environmental, and political) to safeguard our garden heritage. Seed saving organizations work to preserve the genetic heritage of heirloom seeds by collecting and distributing them to farmers and gardeners. By promoting seed saving (and swapping) these groups lessen our dependence on hybrid and GMO seeds.
Heirloom: generally refers to seed that is at least 50 years old, is often representative of a certain geographic region, and has some sort of specific virtue (keeps well, good flavor, etc.) Heirlooms are often passed from generation to generation.
Hybrid plants: The plant produced from two plants that have been cross-pollinated. Hybrids are bred to represent the best characteristics of the parent plants. Plants grown from hybrid seeds will revert back to having characterisitics of the original two plants and will not grow true to type. (Meaning: you may get something very random if you plant hybrid seeds.)
Open-pollination: occurs when bees, wind, or other natural means pollinate the plants. Seeds from open-pollinated plants are sometimes referred to as non-hybrid. Will produce a plant like its parents.
GMO (Genetically Modified Organism): These seeds have undergone genetic engineering in order to produce certain traits (like greater yields.) GMO seeds are normally used in commercial farming. These seeds cannot be saved after harvest and must be repurchased.
I’ve compiled a list of some seed saving organizations and seed saving libraries. If you know of a good group or website I’ve overlooked, please feel free to leave the link in the comment section.
Seed Saving Organizations:
Seeds of Diversity (Canadian organization)
Seed Libraries (like a book library, you can become a member of a seed library and “borrow” seeds, then return new seeds back to them after harvest.):