I received my first-ever copy of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog on Monday and I am so excited!
The vegetables and fruits portrayed within it are all non-hybridized, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented. This company boycotts anyone related to Monsanto and any other gene-altering companies. Plus, the seed they offer has come from all over the world, so some of the varieties you’ll find with Baker Creek are very exotic and extremely rare.
I’ve become quite partial to Johnny’s Seeds, which is a local Maine business that I love supporting, but even Johnny’s has a limited selection of heirloom varieties. As a beekeeper I want to grow as many open-pollinated crops as I can in order to utilize my buzzing livestock. And–for someone who is working toward self-sufficiency–it only makes sense to grow crops that I can collect seed from for future use.
Heirloom varieties intrigue me–they are a living link to gardeners and farmers of eras gone by. Generations ago someone somewhere took the time and care to preserve their best crops for future use. Those seeds were a legacy handed down to their children, and their children’s children, or shared with neighbors who did the same.
Not only do heirloom crops offer superior performance per geographical location, their flavors are unmatched and their nutritional value remains in-tact. When compared to genetically modified crops such as corn, in which studies have proven the protein content to be almost 2-times lower than that of the old-style open-pollinated varieties, it’s not difficult to choose heirlooms.
Often times particular strains can be traced back to specific countries and regions. Which is why it makes sense to choose varieties from areas with similar growing conditions to your own. Since someone went to all the trouble to preserve the seed, it makes sense that the crop must have performed well under its geographic conditions.
What’s more–if it’s seed saving you’re interested in–than heirlooms are the future of your garden. Hybridized crops do not allow for seed preservation. The seed from hybridized crops will produce offspring demonstrating a lot of variation and most likely will exhibit a reduced quality compared to their parents. But by taking care to ensure the proper precautions when growing a crop, seed can be saved for use in years to come.
The heritage preserved in heirloom seeds is a legacy that is the result of generations of farmers from around the world. It is a glimpse into the past, and I find it fascinating to flip through the pages of the Baker Creek catalog to look at these antique varieties.
What’s your favorite heirloom crop?
For more about Heirlooms:
Heirloom Vegetables – from the Clemson Cooperative Extension.
Heirloom Vegetables: 6 Advantages Compared to Hybrids – from Mother Earth News.
Seed Savers Exchange – Non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.