Sunday, February 17, 2013

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

It looks like we found a new seed company to try. A colleague made us aware of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They are a Baker Creek-esque seed company based in Mineral, Virginia that focuses on gmo-free, untreated, open pollinated seeds suited to the inland plains of the mid-Atlantic (our zone, 7a) and the mid-Atlantic region writ large. They describe this area as "generally characterized by high summer heat, humidity, numerous plant diseases, uneven precipitation and occasional high temperatures in the early spring and late fall. Soils are predominately clay except in the sandy coastal areas." Add in the plagues of Egypt-magnitude insect problems we experience at the community garden and this precisely captures our growing conditions.
 2013 Catalog Cover
Am I in love? Very possibly. I am withholding judgement til we grow some of their seed, but all indications are positive. 

For starters, their catalog is lovely. Just the type of seed catalog a garden hopes to get in the middle of winter: one filled with planting and seed saving tips, planting calendars (again, for MY great is that?!), planting quick references, and great information about seed exchanges and preservation programs. It has a great mixture of plant photos and old-timey drawings. All the seed descriptions include indicators identifying varieties "especially well-suited to the Southeast," heirlooms, ecologically grown, and USDA certified organic. They are up front about the specific plant seeds they carry that are hybrids (only four of them). They even sell seed-saving supplies that are usually difficult to find, such as muslin bags and seed vials.

They have a "safe-seed" pledge that says they do not "knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants." I'm happy to see this. While it doesn't necessarily mean they go as far as Baker Creek does to ensure their seed is not GMO tainted (for example testing each batch of heirloom seed), it is still a far cry better than most seed companies out there. 

They are even part of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al. vs Monsanto lawsuit which definitely scores them points with me. If you aren't familiar with the lawsuit, I encourage you to read about it here

Overall, I am excited to order some seed from these folks. We've been looking for some summer lettuce that can withstand our brutal June temperatures, and it looks like they have a few varieties that fit the bill. (I'm eyeing the "Jericho" which was bred for desert heat and which is "especially suited to the Southeast.") I will do a follow up post later this summer.

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