We’re back in lovely Decorah, IA! Today, we (me & daughter) decided we would take a field trip to the Seed Savers Heritage Farm.
I first learned about about the Seed Savers Exchange while reading the superb book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Ms. Kingsolver writes about pouring over the seed catalog and dreaming about her future garden. It caught my eye because it’s located right here in Decorah, IA, where my husband teaches at Luther College.
Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to learn more about the organization and make a visit, but it just hasn’t made it to the top of the priority list – until now.
Seed Savers Exchange has been around since 1975 (almost as long as I have!). It started with a terminally-ill grandfather giving his granddaughter (Diane Ott Whealy) seeds to two garden plants, which had come all the way from Bavaria. She carried on the tradition and eventually started this organization to encourage seed saving and exchange.
The crux of the matter is that there are hundreds and thousands of different varieties of fruits and vegetables that are not cultivated by the food industry. The big guys pick a handful of varieties that are popular, store well, and ship easily (for example: Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Granny Smith). The problem is that if people like the Seed Savers Exchange members don’t save seeds and keep the other varieties alive, they will eventually become extinct (and that would be such a tragedy!).
We entered the Visitor’s Center and were in awe of the rows and rows of seeds available. There were tomato varieties we had never seen and even purple squash. And the website and catalog have orders of magnitude more to offer!
Outside, we read about the gardens, the heirloom poultry (which unfortunately were put up for the season), and Iowa’s prairie background. It was awesome to walk around, pretty much just the two of us, taking in the cool air, walking past different types of gardens and pastures, and just feeling free.
If you are into gardening, I definitely suggest that you visit the Seed Savers Exchange website. If you are not into gardening, try to buy heirloom varieties when you can. I know our co-op always has heirloom tomatoes and apples – not sure about other produce. The same goes for meat. I buy a heirloom turkey for Thanksgiving and it ain’t cheap – but it feels good to know that we’re contributing to keeping a turkey breed alive that may otherwise leave this earth forever.
Like what you read? Pass on the goodness!