Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a worker-run cooperative, with every worker receives equal pay and has a voice in the decisions of the company. Located in Virginia:
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers more than 700 varieties of vegetable, flower, herb, grain and cover crop seeds. We emphasize varieties that perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, although gardeners and farmers over the country grow our seeds. As of 2017, over 60% of the varieties we offer are Certified Organic, and over 60% are grown by small farmers we know and contract with directly. We offer many unusual Southern heirlooms, One of our gardens in spring including peanuts, southern peas, naturally colored cotton, collards, okra, roselle, turnip greens, corns for roasting and meal, and butterbeans. We do not sell chemically treated seeds.
I give this seed source 10 out of 10 acorns. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is my go-to for all my seed. I've been an organic gardener for over 30 years, so when looking for varieties that would grow well in the heat, like where I now live in central Florida, they are a resource that is second to none. I've found wonderful new varieties for all things vegetable and flowers for my gardens. Their descriptions are very clear about what does well in heat and humidity and wet weather. One of the things I like best about this company is their detailed descriptions both in their catalog and on their website on any plant's particular requirements and when to harvest. Take huckleberry, for instance. The berry is ripe when it has gone from glossy to dull black. I would've gotten that wrong. And they make spectacular jam 😀 Because of their attention to detail, a shout-out to the source of the seed, and way-to-much-fun catalogue and website, I'm theirs forever.
Please don't buy seeds from the box stores and give your money to companies like this. Please.
With all the seed suppliers that seem to focus on amassing as many varieties as possible, or on touting the latest-greatest varieties, it's nice to have a source like Southern Exposure whose focus is on what works in their little corner of the world. And as a Missourian--too far south to be a northerner, too far north to be a southerner, too far west to be an easterner, and too far east to be a westerner--it's great to have a seed supplier with plenty of options for those of us in the "upper south."
The catalog is fun and whimsical, is crunchy rather than glossy-magazine-like, offers many varieties of many species, and beginning and advanced gardeners alike could do worse than to consult the catalog as their sole guide to growing veggies and etc. The snapshots of seed-supplying farmers and gardeners, found in the beginning of the catalog, are a fun read, too.
SESE offers old heirlooms with colorful histories alongside newer open-pollinated varieties selected to perform in a particular climate. Roughly half of my garden seed from the past five years has come from SESE, and I don't think I've had a single packet that didn't germinate or didn't grow true-to-type.
I have found their prices to be quite competitive; they often beat the other more popular suppliers, especially on a cost-per-seed basis. Customer service has always been excellent, to boot.
Southern Exposure is not to be overlooked, especially not by southerners, and not even by quasi-southern-ish Missourians!
I have only recently requested and received my first catalog. I've yet to find time to make my selections and place the order. But, I can say that just looking through their catalog....I love this company!
From their catalog:
Our Mission We encourage cooperative self-reliance in agriculture. We promote and participate in seed saving and exchange, ecological agriculture, reducing energy use, providing locally adapted varieties, and regional food protection.
To further these aims, Southern Exposure offers: heirloom varieties to conserve and distribute rare and endangered varieties; open-pollinated varieties to encourage seed saving and exchange among gardeners; disease- and insect-tolerant varieties to reduce pesticide use; and varieties for local and small-scale growers to encourage regional food production.
Located in Mineral, Virginia, this company offers lots of cultivars with proven performance and stability in our region. It's great that their catalog marks the varieties that are well suited to the growing conditions of the southeast, with our hot/humid summers and predominantly clay soils. They make it so easy! They have an amazing selection of heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable/flower/herb/cover crop seeds, mushrooms, cotton, garlic/onions, potatoes/sweet potatoes, gardening supplies, books/dvds....
They have a full Calendar of Events, much of it taking place here on the east coast; but, if you're near Augusta, Georgia, you can catch them in the next few days at the Georgia Organics Conference Feb. 16-17; or, at the Mother Earth News Fair in Belton, Texas from Feb. 17-18. Almost all of the other events listed are up and down the east coast.
Now, I have mentioned before (in another review), I don't buy many seeds. I have saved my own for many years. Therefore, the small number of seed suppliers that I will do business with - must be top quality. I feel good about placing an order with this company and I am sure that soon my acorn rating will be 10/10.
With forty shades of green, it's hard to be blue.
Garg 'nuair dhùisgear! Virtutis Gloria Merces
I forgot to include in my above review another cool feature of SESE. When you request a catalog you receive a member number, printed above your name on the mailing label. Enter this code upon checkout and receive 5% off your order! And all for just asking to get a catalog in the mail.
A few years ago I was going to be moving to a new climate & soil so I started researching which new foods to grow. Learned via the university agriculture department that TN Red Valencia peanuts will thrive here. No other kind of peanut will. As I recall Southern Seed exchange was the only place that sold them. A grumpy old ex-farmer drunk from the area told me peanuts would never grow in hillbillyworld. Never in a million years 'cuz he knew everything about farming. Fourth generation from those seeds is in the ground now & doing very well. I planted some in his bean & corn plot when it died later that first year. (water is important) I've never harvested that patch & they keep popping up every year. Right in his face.
Argue for your limitations and they are yours forever.
They're pretty awesome--they're run by a worker-owner cooperative if someone didn't mention that, and they are also a commune, living together and sharing income. They do some permaculture practices, keep animals, and some members are quite focused on permaculture.
Community Building 2.0: ask me about drL, the rotational-mob-grazing format for human interactions.
Very few seed suppliers provide the level of growing information that SESE does, and those are usually the companies focused on commercial growers (Johnny's, High Mowing) with prices and varieties that reflect that focus. SESE is really focused on their region and on supporting a highly sustainable, homesteading, permie-type grower. Their prices are very competitive as well. Here in southern Missouri, they have become the first place I buy from, as much as anything because they reliably provide good information in their catalog (and "garden guide") and on their seed packets.