Collection to Catalog

Collection to Catalog

The introduction of the Limited Edition “From the Preservation Gardens” line of seeds to the SSE catalog in 2013 brought the heartwarming, funny, and sometimes curious stories of varieties from our on-site preservation collection into the homes of thousands of Americans. The SSE catalog is responsible for producing an annual infusion of fresh pieces of history along with member favorites.

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Seasons Come and Go

By Paul Ludwig and Lori Slindee

Diversity Gardens throughout the seasons at Seed Savers ExchangeDecember hours for the Visitors Center are Fridays from 9 to 5 and Saturdays/Sundays from 10 to 5.

As we wind down the 2013 season here at Heritage Farm, the Visitor Center Staff would like to take a moment and thank everyone who came through the Lillian Goldman Visitors Center this year. We’ve met a lot of people, heard a lot of stories, and thought we would share some highlights.

We’ve had visitors from all over the world this season. What fun it was to open the doors to travelers from far places such as England, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Israel, Australia and China. Canadians are also common in the Visitor Center, often looking for seeds that will grow in their northern climate. One day, we had visitors from both Panama and Alaska here at the same time! They enjoyed discussing the differences of their garden experiences.

Of course, some of the most exciting days at the Visitors Center are during events such as our annual Conference and Campout, the Tomato Tasting, various workshops, and weddings or dances in the barn loft. But in between these good times we’ve also had a few adventures here, too. Once, a family with a young baby was out hiking and found themselves cut off by rising water in a flash flood! Luckily it was an easy rescue by our crew and a tractor. There was also the summer afternoon when we locked down the Visitor Center because a few Ancient White Park cattle had escaped their pen and were playing in the parking lot. Talk about “free-range” cattle!

Model A's visiting Seed Savers Exchange

It was also quite special when staff and visitors shared fun discoveries together. One family was delighted to find an herb seed packet bearing their last name: Grandma Einck’s dill. Upon further conversation, we found that they were originally from this North East Iowa region and possibly related to our co-founder Dianne Ott Whealy’s Grandma Einck (whom the dill variety was named after).

Though many people come here for garden advice, working in the Visitors Center has also been a learning experience for us, too. There was a local Amish woman who shared with us that her favorite okra to grow is the Clemson Spineless because it is easy to pick, but they also like to grow Red Burgundy because it is pretty and less prone to being “woody” in texture. Now we share this information with everyone asking about okra. In addition to gardening wisdom, we’ve also heard many wonderful recipe ideas from visitors. One woman shared with us how she enjoys cooking and then mashing Burpee’s Golden Beets to be served with butter. We heard about how good Jimmy Nardello’s pepper is fried with onions. Also, we learned that our Nebraska Wedding tomato is good for stuffing with chicken salad.

Even with all the variety we have—both in commercial seed packets and in the seed exchange—we have been surprised that visitors still come looking for varieties that we do not have (some varieties we’ve never heard of!) They often do find what they are looking for, however, and are so delighted because they never thought they would. Regardless, people always seem to leave the Visitor Center happy. Even during the Harvest Festival, when we had a gloomy, dreary day, everyone was in jovial spirits.

As we wind down the visitor season, we are reminded of all the visitors who smiled back as they left, saying “See you next year!”

Lillian Goldman Visitors Center

The Lillian Goldman Visitor Center will be open Fridays from 9 to 5, Saturdays and Sundays 10 to 5. December 23 we close until March.

2013 Seeds are half price and there are many beautiful gift items for the gardener in your life!


Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

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Special October Membership Offer

Fine Gardening Magazine

Become a Seed Savers Exchange member during October to take advantage of these special offers:

Fine Gardening Magazine


Join Seed Savers and get a one-year subscription to Fine Gardening magazine - all for one low price of $59.99. Save $10 with this limited-time offer. Click here to join.





Join Seed Savers and get three issues of Grow - all for one low price of $55.00. This is 38% off the cover price. Click here to join.



-Or- Click here to see our other membership offers.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

In order to fulfill our mission, we:

- Maintain thousands of varieties of different plant types in one of the largest seed banks of its kind in North America - Regenerate seed in isolation gardens and store them in ideal conditions - Document valuable cultural information on varieties and their histories - Distribute heirloom varieties to members and the public through the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook and the Seed Savers Exchange Catalog

We rely on membership to support our organization and to help sustain the diversity of heirlooms in our seed bank. Join the 13,000 other gardeners and seed savers who support our mission!

Learn more about Seed Savers Exchange in this video:

Exerpt taken from "Garden Guardians" by Alyssa Gammelgaard and Bryce Kilker.


A Seed Savers Exchange membership entitles you to a variety of benefits:

  • SSE's Yearbook and the Heritage Farm Companion

    Access to the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook and online seed exchange, an exclusive network of SSE members sharing over 12,000 unique plant varieties with one another

  • The Heritage Farm Companion, an award-winning quarterly membership publication
  • 10% off all purchases from SSE’s catalog, website, and Visitors Center
  • Discounts on registration for workshops and events
  • Enrollment in the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program, offering free admission to botanical gardens, arboreta, and conservatories across the country.


Show your support for pure seed and good food by becoming a Seed Savers Exchange member today.

Distributing Diversity

Distributing diversity!

Typical February Day in the Seed House

Around this time of year people ask us questions about what we do here at Heritage Farm during the "off season." Well first of all, just because the farm is buried in snow and closed to visitors from December to March does not mean it's the "off season." Though all Seed Savers Exchange departments are running full-throttle during these winter months, no one is quite as busy as our seed house staff.

As many of our members and supporters are aware, these are the months to plan your garden. The most important part of that planning process (and arguably the most exciting) is choosing your seeds. To give you a glimpse of what it takes to get those precious seeds from us to you, we documented what goes on behind-the-scenes in our seed house.

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If you haven't already, visit our online store to select the seeds for your garden today!

SSE Store

From the customer service desk


One of the most common questions we get here at the SSE customer service center is "Do I have to be a member to order from the Seed Savers Exchange catalog?" The quick answer: no!

Supporting SSE by becoming a member is greatly appreciated, not to mention beneficial. Members have access to the SSE Yearbook, which lists thousands of varieties not otherwise available. Members also receive a 10% discount on orders from our print and online catalog, as well as the latest news from SSE's international seed saving community through our membership publication, the Heritage Farm Companion. However, you don't have to be a member to order from our award-winning catalog, which is free upon request. Whether you order your seeds through the Yearbook or our commercial catalog, you are supporting our non-profit mission of preserving our garden heritage for future generations—Thank you!