Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is proud to provide a new tool (still in development as of 11/15/13) to help seed savers and gardeners keep the diversity of our garden heritage in the hands of many: an online seed exchange. The online seed exchange is a new way to use SSE’s Yearbook-- a publication printed annually since 1975 that lists seed and plant material from vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruits, nuts, and other plant varieties offered by seed savers across the country.
About the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook
The Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook is an encyclopedic volume which, in 2013, offers 12,495 unique varieties (and 19,888 total listings) to SSE members from SSE members, making it one of the largest sources of heirloom varieties in the world. Mailed in late January, the Yearbook is a meeting place where gardeners network with one another, share what they’ve grown, and learn from others with similar interests. On its new website at exchange.seedsavers.org, anyone is able to browse the incredible assortment of offerings from SSE members, but only SSE members are able to participate. All Seed Savers Exchange members are able to request seeds, whether or not they list in the exchange.
There is amazing diversity in the Yearbook—more than 4,000 tomato varieties, for example. It also includes many hard-to-find plant types such as corn salad, cowpeas, grapes, horseradish, quinoa, and scorzonera, just to name a few. Many of these varieties are not commercially offered and are available only because of the preservation work of our Listed Members.
SSE members are as diverse as the varieties they offer. The network of over 13,000 backyard preservationists in all 50 states and over 30 different countries includes novices as well as lifelong seed savers. You can exchange seed with teacher Jon Thurston of the Troy Howard Middle School Project in Maine, Sister Theonymphi of the Holy Protection Monastery in Pennsylvania, farmer Douglas Hendrickson of Salt Creek Farm in Washington State, and many others.
New Features for the Online Seed Exchange
The online seed exchange will offer some new tools for listing, searching for, and exchanging seed, though the print copy of the Yearbook will still be available.
Ability to upload photos
Members who offer seed can upload photos of both the varieties that are being offered as well as images of themselves, their farms, and their gardens.
When members list their seeds, they can check different features for the variety they are offering, thus allowing other members to use advanced search functions. For example, a member may list a tomato and check different features such as culinary use, color, growth habit, days to maturity, and disease resistance, making it possible for a gardener to find that green-striped, determinate, slicer, short-seasoned tomato in a simple search.
Flowers and herbs can now be listed with fruits, veggies, and grains
In an effort to control the size of the printed Yearbook, flowers and herbs were kept separate from the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook. Starting in 2014, they will all be listed together at exchange.seedsavers.org. As Co-founder Diane Ott Whealy says about her garden, “vegetables nourish the body, flowers nourish the soul.”
The resources section of the website contains archived issues of The Heritage Farm Companion, stories about different heirloom varieties, and educational materials about seed saving.
Creating wishlists and completing requests
While browsing the Online Seed Exchange, members can add varieties they want to request from other members to a wishlist. Seeds can be requested from the wishlist, though payment methods vary. Some members prefer transactions via PayPal, and others require payment by cash or check along with the printed seed request form.
Not a Seed Savers Exchange member? Join today to support our non-profit mission and gain access to the online seed exchange as well as these other great benefits:
- The Heritage Farm Companion, an award-winning quarterly membership publication
- 10% off all purchases in the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, website, and Lillian Goldman Visitors Center
- Discounts on registration for workshops and events
- Enrollment in American Horticultural Society's Reciprocal Admissions Program, offering free admission to botanical gardens, arboreta, and conservatories across the country
About Seed Savers Exchange (SSE): Located six miles north of Decorah, Iowa, Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the preservation and distribution of heirloom seeds. Seed Savers maintains a collection of thousands of open-pollinated varieties, making it one of the largest non-governmental seed banks in the United States.