Heirloom Vegetable Seeds
Heirloom Vegetables and Food Security
Growing heirloom vegetables increases the genetic diversity of our food supply. Many commercial vegetables are one of just a few varieties, usually selected for their consistent appearance and ability to be shipped long distance without sustaining serious damage. Unfortunately, when so much of the food supply is dependent on a few single varieties of each species, the food supply is vulnerable of one of the popular varieties turns out to be unusually susceptible to a certain pest or disease.
One example of this occurred during the Irish Potato Famine. Preserving the genetic diversity of seed potatoes is especially important because seed potatoes are essentially clones. A genetic weakness in a single strain of seed potato can wipe out the entire line. The Irish Potato Famine was caused in large part by the overuse of a single line of seed potato in Ireland, a line that unfortunately turned out to be extremely susceptible to a disease called "late blight." The resulting famine led to the loss of 20-25% of Ireland's population through starvation and immigration.
By growing heirloom vegetables, you preserve and increase the genetic diversity of our food supply, decreasing the chance of a disaster such as the Irish Potato Famine.
More Reasons To Grow Heirloom Vegetables
Heirloom varieties often taste much better than commercial varieties, because they have been selected for flavor and hardiness, not for their thick skin and regular appearance.
Many heirloom vegetables are also better adapted to local growing conditions. Many were developed specifically to handle specific types of growing conditions. For example, many heirloom varieties are more drought tolerant than common commercial varieties, which are grown under more carefully controlled conditions than the average family vegetable garden. Others may be resistant to a certain pest or disease common in the area where they were developed.
Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Heirloom tomatoes are one of the most popular varieties of heirloom vegetable because they offer one of the most significant improvements in taste over commercial varieties.
More Heirloom Seed Sources
- Native Seeds \ SEARCH
Ancient Seeds for Modern Needs... Native Seeds/SEARCH conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest.
- Seeds of Change
We currently offer over 600 distinct varieties of 100% organically grown seeds for the home gardener and over 100 varieties in bulk quantities for the market grower.
- Seed Savers Exchange
Since 1975, Seed Savers Exchange members have passed on approximately one million samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners. We are a non-profit organization of gardeners dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.