Why I Am A Seed Saver

Mesquakie Indian Corn, heirloom corn, open pollinated corn, why I am a seed saver

Gardening is a passion for me. Back to my earliest memories, even before the term was coined, I have loved seed saving. For most of my adult life I have known that I am blessed and cursed “to be a seed saver.” It is a “curse” in that I know all too well what it feels like to be mostly alone in this passion. There are a lot of other seed savers, but we don’t often meet up in social gatherings. So why am I a seed saver? Well, I’ll tell you…

I am a seed saver because I love frugality

Just the idea of being able to perpetuate my own seed appeals to the frugal side of me! Being a seed saver hasn’t  always saved me money, but at least the basic rational is valid. Here’s just one example. Our family loves parsnips. We could probably plant 200 square foot of them, every year, and eat them all! Have you seen how few parsnip seeds come in a $2 packet of seed?! Yet when I produce my own seed I can literally go out to plant parsnips carrying a quart of seed or more. I feel free to scatter that seed as thickly as our growing conditions actually require, in order to get a good stand.

parsnips, root crops, winter crops, gardening and self sufficiency
In our climate it’s a challenge to get parsnips to germinate. Plant A LOT of seed to get a stand.

I am a seed saver because I love self sufficiency.

I don’t have to do everything for myself, but I love being able to. Seed production is an important skill for self sufficiency. It’s good even to know that in a pinch I could share seed with someone in need.

I am a seed saver because I love beauty and variety.

Many of the seeds I most enjoy are only available in small quantities, and often only for very limited time. Compared to what is widely available, these limited listings make up the lion’s share of the variety available to gardeners, but to take advantage of them, one needs to know how to multiply a small packet of seed into a large enough quantity to use for full scale food production. Beside being delicious, many of these rare varieties are gorgeous. Consider the corn, pictured above. that’s the corn which thrills me every time I harvest and shuck in preparation for the coming year’s cornmeal. Why grow just “good” when you can grow “good and beautiful!” I am a seed saver because I savor being around what I produce for it’s beauty and variety.

Tarahumara Pink Green Bean, rare beans, saving seeds, why I save seed, I am a seed saver because I love rare varieties
Tarahumara Pink Green Bean is extremely rare, only available, from time to time, from Native Seeds Search.

Visit Native Seeds Search website

I am a seed saver because I love history and culture.

Seed saving lets me connect with other cultures and times in a tangible manner. By growing some varieties one can actually eat crops which have been around and in the same form for hundreds or thousands of years. Want to taste something truly authentic from the southern Appalachians? You can select and grow any number of authentic varieties which have been stewarded by both Native Americans and long time residents of that area. Would you like to experience something of how they lived? Then grow what they grew, for several complete annual cycles, saving seed and replanting.

Check out Sustainable Mountain Agriculture for authentic Appalachian seed.

Through seed saving I maintain a connection with certain  friends and relatives who have now passed on. By growing Tomato Rocky I maintain a special part of the relationship I have had with our special family friend, Rocky Mastro and even with my own father. By seed saving I not only maintain something physical from our relationship with my wife’s grandparents, but I have the possibility of passing that “connection” on to our children and grandchildren. We grow and maintain Barksdale Wax Pole Bean which we received from them nearly 35 years ago. Over the years I have received seed from special friends and seed savers (often one and the same thing). Growing and reproducing these crops constantly reminds me of those people. Sharing them often connects me to others. 

There are other reasons to be a seed saver. These are just my favorites. Seed saving is interwoven throughout much of  HomesteadingEdu’s materials.

Do you grow something passed down to you from a friend or relative? We’d love to hear about it!

Also, to find a lot of seed savers and seed saving know how check out The Seed Savers Exchange .


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