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.
Who we are
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit (501(c)(3) status) organization dedicated to saving and sharing seeds.
Seed Savers Exchange takes threats to biodiversity seriously. We maintain a collection of more than 20,000 heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable, herb, and plant varieties, including over 1,000 varieties of heritage apple trees. We take great care to ensure the health and viability of our collection for generations of growers to come. We keep the bulk of our collection in an underground freezer vault at Heritage Farm.
Each year, we grow out select varieties in gardens at Heritage Farm to refresh our seed supply. To maintain accurate records of each variety’s traits, our Evaluation Team grows out other varieties and keeps careful track of them, updating descriptions, and checking for inconsistencies. Our seed historian researches the story of each variety, documenting its history and the lives of the people who brought it to our collection.
A network that needs you
Seed Savers Exchange relies on a two-pronged method we call participatory preservation.
The seedbank is important, but it isn’t enough without our member community. Gardeners grow out a variety and save its seeds, allowing the variety to adapt to the growing conditions of the area. Without individual gardeners, we miss our chance to help seeds adapt to changing conditions, leaving our vault as a sort of museum for varieties that haven’t changed with their environment. You can play an enormous role in preservation by growing out heirloom varieties in your garden and saving seeds.
Mike Jay wrote:The other issue I have is that they use too much of their plant description space saying where the seed came from. For instance I'll be buying Joe's Long Cayenne this year from them. Here's their description:
Originally from Calabria, Italy. Circulated through the Italian-Canadian seed saving community in Toronto before being sent to Joe Sestito in Troy, NY. Introduced to SSE in 1996 by long-time member Dr. Carolyn Male. Heavy yields of finger width thin-walled red peppers up to 12" long. Great for fresh eating or drying. 85 days from transplant. Hot +/- 4600 seeds/oz
I do like the history but if they skipped half of the history they could fit in.....