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Question

merryj
What companies or organizations do you trust to get your seeds?
What companies or organizations do you trust to get your seeds?

Answer

If you're growing a kitchen garden, it's because you want to feel good about your food and the impact your having on your health and that of the planet. That good feeling needs to start with the decision about where to obtain your seeds. One way to screen seed companies is by checking to see which have signed on to the Safe Seed Pledge. The pledge was created in 1999 by a small group of companies and now has over 70 seed companies signed. It reads as follows: "Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms poses great biological risks, as well as economic, political and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities."

Question details

Who do you trust to buy seeds from? Where do you source most of your seeds from that you don't save from previous crops or trade with others? The question that prompted the question was a search for flat-leaved (Tuscan?) kale to plant for next winter. My usual sources don't seem to carry what I'm looking for.

We get most of our seeds from Johnny's Selected Seeds (http://www.johnnyseeds.com/), because as I've heard others say on this site, if it's good enough for Eliot Coleman, it's good enough for me!  My alternate source is Victory Seeds (http://www.victoryseeds.com/), since they are explicitly concerned with preserving open-pollinated non-hybrid heritage varieties of seeds.  We have also gotten seeds from a handful of other sources including Peaceful Valley (http://www.groworganic.com/), though the few seeds we planted for this fall crop weren't all that impressive, but it was a tough summer this year in New England to plant fall crops, so we're still withholding judgement - they do have an impressive selection of heirloom tomato varieties and offer free seed packets with the purchase of other items such as books, so if the germination rate isn't impressive, at least you haven't spent much money on the seeds...
Hi Merredith I,m afraid i don,t worry about who supplies my seeds. Price is my main criteria. Sometimes you turn over a packet of seeds in a shop, look at the price and it makes you cringe. If i spot a bargain, even end of season seeds i will have them. Most seeds in the UK are packed in foil anyway, so they will keep for a few seasons. [With a few exceptions like parsnips say] Regards Glenn
I'm afraid I am with you, Glenn. I like to try new varieties, but will not pay more then $3.00 for 30 seeds, I only do this once. Open-pollinated seeds can cross & change the seed, so we have to be careful. I have just started to save seeds for vegetables. Broccoli came from the cross of two plants, so I see no reason to not buy hybrid varieties. My daughter did a project on GMO's & came to the concluslion there are good things like slowing world hunger, but that we need to do more research. I use too many seed companies to list, but some are listed above. The best are www.HenryFields.com,  www.harrisseeds.com,    www.vermontbean.com,   J.W. Jung seed Co.,  GroCo seeds. www.totallytomato.com,  www.territorialseed.com People that I know trade seeds with me & the geneorous people on this site who have given me seeds & plants. Maxine, Thanks for the Link.     Laugh & have fun,                                       Joel
Hi Joel Just to clarify... I mentioned buying non-hybrid seeds for future seed-saving only because of the problem of "hybrid vigor"... that is to say the first generation has all that vigor, which is almost always lost and the second generation is totally different from the hybrid you bought.  I buy F1 hybrid seeds for many plants, but know that saving seed from them is likely going to result in something other than the original.  I have no objection to hybrids, that is just the result of nature & humans working together. My objections to GMOs are based on many factors, but in the interest of keeping this thread non-political I will invite anyone interested in my reasoning to contact me directly. Let's all enjoy planning for spring and perusing our winter catalogs!  Great topic :)
Thank you, you know a great deal more about seed saving then I, because I have just started to save veggies seeds. I have saved wild herbal & woody plant seeds for years. I know very little about GMO's also, but agree that talk can wait for a more political plant blog. I know about the "hybrid vigor" problem & like you buy seeds for them each year. I have some heirloom seeds too. :) Joel
I don't think genetic modification is a political issue at all - unless one starts blaming one faction or the other as allowing or being against it,  for or against Monsanto.  It's about food and evironmental safety and seed sovereignty.  My research from many sources makes me an opponent of any corporate takeover of our food supply.  Here is one on GMOs:                 http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/GeneticRoulette/HealthRisksofGMFoodsSummaryDebate/index.cfm
Excellent link Maxine.  I am in total agreement but find it difficult to express my views on the topic without getting "political"... cheers to your comment.  Thanks
Fedco is my favorite - a growers co-op of non GMO. open pollinated, "organic" and heirloom seeds.  Also prices in $1-2 range beat every other seed company.  They also doubled my order with no charge when I asked for a donation for Seeds for Salma this fall.  See at www.fedcoseeds.com
Thanx for this link!
I adore fedco seeds, have been buying from them for well over18 years. Their price is right, their products is right and never a problem with my order.
After testing/trialing seeds for several years as a former market-gardener, I would offer the following advice: buy seeds that are adapted to your local conditions (latitude, climate).  If you wish to save seed, buy only non-hybrid (open-pollinated) seeds.  Like you, I buy from companies who sign onto the Safe Seed Pledge, at least they are trying to keep out GMOs.  If possible, buy from small independent companies and/or co-ops... and the ideal is sharing/trading seeds with other gardeners. As for companies, my primary source for locally adapted seed is Territorial (as I am in W. Oregon) or Nichols, also recommend West Coast (in BC).  Have used Johnny's for bulk pricing and very high quality... although they are in Maine, the day-length is similar.  Seeds of Change for unusual heritage seed, Richters in Canada for amazing selection of herbs and price/quality.  Peaceful Valley for cover crop seed, good selection & vigor.  Ronnigers for potatoes & garlic when needed to resupply.  Various other companies have offered freebies on Peaceful Valley orders, which have turned out to be good seed, like Renee's.  Highly recommend joining Seed Savers.
Oregon Coast Ga..., you said" testing/trialing seeds..." are you saying that we should not try seeds from other climates or countries? Or are you saying that it is easier to grow seeds that are locally adapted. I have tried seeds from other places, just to see if I can get them to grow here in the South.            :) Joel
Hi Joel,  I am all for trying seeds from other places as long as we are careful not to introduce invasive species to our area... what I meant was that you will save money and frustration if you mostly plant seeds that are adapted to your local conditions.  For instance we have wet winters and dry summers, and are located at 45 degrees north latitude, with mild summer temperatures.  I could try to grow a tomato that is adapted to the Gulf coast but would most likely do better with one that is from Oregon, Seattle, or even Maine.  That said, I love to "push the envelope" and try things that are supposedly impossible... just have to remind myself it may be a loss of time and money. :) OCG
AMAN to not introducing invasive species. I am fighting wild garlic the from the old country, you can buy it on the web or come by my house & I will give you a truck load. I am also fighting Coast hay grasses that my father planted for cows. I have no cows & am trying to organicly grow veggies. There are times in the hot sun when I wish for weed killer instead of the grap rake in my hands.:)                                                                                  Joel
I get seeds wherever I can. Fortunately we have an old fashioned seed store, Lockharts, here in Stockton, CA which makes it very easy. I also like Seed-Savers Exchange Seed Catalogue which features many of their finest heirlooms. Where else can you get Napolean peppers? I think their seeds are fairly priced and many are unique to their catalogue. It is also one of the most gorgeous catalogues around. Seed Savers Yearbook is also a good place to find many unusual heirlooms. Seed Savers is an organization well worth supporting if you can. As mentioned by others, Peaceful Valley gives out seeds for being an online customer. Nichols Garden Nursery catalogue also provides a good source for herbs, lettuce and other heirlooms. Every year that I go to the Eco-Farm Conference there is a seed swap that I never miss and many vendors are there with free seed packs and catalogues. Good way to increase your seed bank. So many seeds, so little time.
I love Harris seeds! and Johnnys seeds too. Both are wonderful places to purchase seeds with fast and reliable service.
Same here for almost forty years. Now more Johnny's than Harris
I just ordered most of my seeds for next year. Half from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and half from Pinetree Seeds. Southern Exposure because it's fairly local, and specializes in heirloom varieties. Pinetree for the things I only grow a few of, their packets are small and much less expensive. 
 My favorite seed companies offer good growing information, varieties or focus & goodly amounts of viable seed. Special thanks to Nichols Garden Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds & Stokes, especially back in the days of Stokes' plain-paper B/WH catalogs with pro growing instructions in tiny print! I wish Stokes would revive those catalogs, written by the elder Stokes seedsmen, as growing booklets for sale! Johnny's free catalog is still as informative as a $25 book! Nichols' inventory of herbs & herbal info is priceless! These seed companies in particular & others too helped educate me to growing from seed. And every adventurous gardener who loves the bio-diversity of the world & cares about preserving bio-diversity should explore: http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/       
I buy my seeds locally, because I'm still pretty new to gardening. I was thinking along the lines of others; if the seeds were grown locally they should be able to do well in my climate. OSC seeds I purchase plants from local greenhouses as well to get a jump start on our short growing season.
I buy most of my seeds and a few plants locally.  We are fortunate in this area to have some great suppliers specializing in natural (organic) garden and animal feeds, seeds, plants, fertilizers, soils, and amendments.  I do order some special seeds, via internet, that I can't purchase locally.  Yesterday, I received seeds for BNF444 tomatoes and six other vegetables from Remier Seeds.  I'm waiting for seeds from Seeds Trust for Siberian tomatoes for very early production; 50 days? Stay natural, David  
http://www.seedsofchange.com/ I have been very happy with the seeds from this company.        
I've been sourcing from Seeds of Change, High Mowing Seeds, and John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden Seeds.  JS sells many European heirlooms that I've had a lot of luck with even though my climate is a lot different than their climates of origin. All of these companies participate in the Safe Seed Pledge. -JG
I have a page devoted to this subject on my website--who I like and why. I'd post that information here too, but it'd be too much. There will be a link to this page in the next KGI newsletter as well if you don't have time to catch it here. Any feedback on my site would be greatly appreciated! 
I also LOVE FEDCO Seeds in Maine. Plants from their seeds do the best in my garden year after year. - www.fedcoseeds.com
Hello ! I bought seeds from this site at a reasonable price http://www.agriseek.com/sale/e/Crops-Seeds/Seed/
I am faithful to Fedco. Their catalog is always entertaining and filled with useful information. I like that they provide the consumer with the option of purchasing organic seeds. And, as a small-time backyard gardener, I appreciate that they sell small quantities of seed for a low price. Every year, they offer new varieties along with the "old faithfuls". My experience with Fedco has been a very personal, human, friendly experience. I live in Maine, and I've been to their warehouse in Waterville. But if I move to Arizona tomorrow, I will still order my seeds from Fedco.
I buy organic seed from Territorial Seed Company in Oregon, as the seed is adapted to my climate here in the northwest corner of Washington state. Abundant Life Seeds, which used to be located here, where I live, is now a part of Territorial. This company is still an independent, family owned enterprise. I have had great luck with this company over the years. http://www.territorialseed.com/
New to gardening raised in the concrete jungle of Washington DC now living in a Houston TX suburb, John Kohler's GrowingYourGreens.com has taught me so very much, my brown thumbs are slowly greening. Including Johnnyseeds.com and SeedsOfChange.com; BountifulGardens.org, SouthernExposure.com, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at RareSeeds.com have become favorites. ==FORWARD=>>
For serious foodies like us our favorite source is Seeds from Italy, we LOVE them, and the new owners, non GMO, interesting, different, many organic. Seem to grow great here in the Ohio Valley. http://www.growitalian.com We have tried others and would like to support Seeds of Change but you get too few seeds from them, I hate running out of seeds half way through the row. The only problem with Seeds from Italy is you get too many! With proper storage they will last 2 or 3 years but I will never use 10000 Chard seeds or 3000 lettuce seeds! I hate to waste anything, to solve the problem I have decided to split this years order 5 ways and sell or give to friends. If anyone is interested email me. To answer the OPs question... "The question that prompted the question was a search for flat-leaved (Tuscan?) kale to plant for next winter." I think you are looking for Galega de folhas-lisas smooth green leaf and of course Seeds from Italy has it. http://www.growitalian.com/kale-galega-de-folhas-lisas-smooth-green-leaf-35-11/
I have bought from Victory Seed Co online before and been very happy with the produce that we have. The seed company that I really like the most (so far) is the Sustainable Seed Company www.sustainableseedco.com They have some incredible seed stock, and are newly organic certified (very important to me and my family) We - kids and I - LOVE the varieties that they have available. And I take it as a bonus that they are relatively "local" to me -- they're out of Petaluma, CA, which is only about 3 hours from where I live. The next time I purchase, however, I want to try Bountiful Gardens (bountifulgardens.org) -- they are even closer than SSC (only an hour away from me) and they do a whole lot toward encouraging and spreading knowledge about biointensive gardening, permaculture, and other awesome and unusual gardening methods that create happy farmers and happier gardens.
Good list. I'd add Renee's - she is a really good soul and plantsman - and Peaceful Valley Farm Supply for bulk. For small farmers, Seedway and Osbornes - Osborne's site is terrific. I also like the companies handling Italian seed, including Gourmet Seed. We should all join Fedco. Kitazawa is good for Asian seed, great catalog. Heavenly Seed in SC is where the wonderful heirloom collection from Dr. David Bradshaw at Clemson U has ended up. Wild Garden Seed is great, same for Turtle Tree. I didn't see Baker's Creek. Lots of good 'uns out there - Johnny's and HMS are terrific, so is Southern Exposure. Didn't see Nichols, or Seed Saver Exchange - another one we should all join. Good 'inside story' on seed companies is in Steve Soloman's 'Gardening When It Counts'. Oh - Totally Tomatoes, good breeder if high prices. I like Wilhite and Wyatt-Quarle in my part of the world, though neither carries organic seed.

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