Why Regionally Adapting Seed is Important!
Our mission is to grow a robust regional seedshed for the Intermountain West. For us, this means building a network of farmers, gardeners, breeders, and eaters who value locally produced seeds and the resilience, abundance, and independence they bring to our region.
We have been growing a collection of now almost 500 varieties of seeds adapted to the Intermountain West. Casey O’Leary, our founder told Mother Earth Gardener, we are particularly passionate about the Payette tomato, a delicious, stocky, early maturing slicer with resistance to curly top virus. ‘Payette’ was bred by the University of Idaho in the 1960s, and it’s one of our favorite Idaho-bred varieties.
Adapting to our changing climate is no small task, as we all know. Open pollinated (OP) seeds play a critical part in our collective ability to be food-secure. With extreme temperatures, drought, fire, dramatically different winters, some dry–some heavy with snow. We all witnessed some of the hottest temperatures on record this past year. All of the seeds the Co-op carries are OP, which means you can save them each year--and each year, those seeds adapt to the changes of the places they grow in.
Gardeners, and farmers like the Co-op seed growers, who use organic methods are addressing this growing concern on an immediate scale. Functioning as part of widespread natural climate solutions “the food and land use sector could contribute up to 37% of climate mitigation needed to reach 2030 climate goals,” according to the World Economic Forum.
With regionally adapted seeds we are increasing the potential for crops to survive diverse weather patterns. Saving seeds season by season contributes to our local abundance of seeds. One seed can grow a plant that produces a multitude of seeds (more than a single packet of seeds in some cases). For edible plants, we can add to our food security by saving seeds from them, in order to have food crops we can count on.
Farmers have known for centuries to save seeds from the best stock in their gardens. This practice was interrupted with the introduction of F1 hybrid seeds in the 1930s, quickly overtaking the tradition of heirloom seed preservation. By the end of the 1970s F1 hybrid corn dominated the US system of agriculture, along with a few other commodity crops. These seeds grew plants with uniform characteristics that met the expectations of the shifting marketplace. For farmers and gardeners, this created a dependence on hybrid varieties that must be purchased each season, in order to produce crops with the same characteristics each year. The lack of diversity this has produced in seed created dependence upon ever-more-costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Entire crop types are more vulnerable to the effects of increasing shifts in our climate, and more open to disease and damage from insects that move with changing temperatures.
We’re working to preserve the agricultural tradition of seed saving, and growing without chemical inputs. All our seeds are open pollinated, which means you can save seeds from all of the plants grown from Snake River Seed Cooperative packets. All our growers commit to using growing methods that involve regenerative processes of seed cultivation, like soil health and consideration for increasing the communities of pollinators whom much of the magic of seeds and plants relies!
Seeds hold the information of every season, going back through generations - they hold the cumulative information of what they’ve survived each year. Because of this, open pollinated varieties from our region have a greater chance of surviving our ever-shifting weather patterns they’ve been saved and cared for carefully, preserving all of those qualities we love about the plant varieties they have been saved from!
These are just some reasons why it is so important to grow regionally adapted seeds! Thank you for supporting our grower and employee-owned seed cooperative!
"3 key levers to address the urgent global food crisis." 16 Jan. 2023, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/01/davos23-key-levers-address-global-food-crisis/.
Curry H. A. (2022). Hybrid Seeds in History and Historiography. Isis; an international review devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences, 113(3), 610–617. https://doi.org/10.1086/721075
Petra Page-Mann (2018) "How to Find Regionally Adapted Seeds - Mother Earth Gardener." 12 Dec. 2018, https://www.motherearthgardener.com/organic-gardening/how-to-find-regionally-adapted-seeds-zm0z18wzpop/.
"The Hottest Temperatures Recorded In All 50 States." https://www.wunderground.com/article/news/climate/news/2022-06-21-hottest-temperature-state-records-us.