This year I became a member of Seed Savers! Seed Savers is dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. You don’t have to be a member to benefit from all the work that they do. They have an online catalogue that you can browse or you can request one to be sent via mail. I always like getting my catalogue through the mail because it is very beautiful, has helpful gardening tips, and has varieties you can’t find at your garden store.
If you become a member you get their yearbook. Now I am pretty new to this so I am not sure what to do with the yearbook. Their yearbook is 514 pages! And each page looks like this: This is page 264 and 265. Two pages out of twenty-five pages of potato varieties. Each variety has a description, with ideal planting location, cooking recommendations, history of the seed, among other details. Just on these two pages the variety of potatoes are Blossom, Blue Butterball, Blue Butterball TSP11, Blue Gold, Blue of Sweden, Blue Shetland, Blue Tom Cat, Blue Victor, Blue Victor 2010-3, Blue Victor 2010-1, Blue Victor TSP 2010-2, Bonnie Dundee, Bonnotte, Bora Valley, Brigus, British Columbia Blue, Butte Russet, Cain’s Irish Rocks and Calico. That is 19 varieties of just potatoes on just 2 pages. And did I mention that there are 514 pages of this???
You would need all winter to read this thing and decide what you wanted to plant and what would work best in your area. This year I just stuck to the catalogue because it seemed too daunting to read the yearbook. But I am glad that it is there. This is what Seed Savers says about their participatory preservation,
Seed Savers Exchange has been promoting the preservation and utilization of heirloom varieties for 37 years. Working with our members–farmers and gardeners–to ensure that these unique varieties are not lost forever, SSE encourages “participatory preservation” through membership in the Seed Savers Exchange. Each year thousands of seed varieties are exchanged among backyard preservationists through the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook for diverse reasons such as connecting to our garden heritage, finding varieties suited to a particular region, enjoying the diversity of heirloom varieties, and sourcing material to use in localized breeding projects.
These preservation methods keep many open-pollinated and heirloom varieties circulating in the hands of gardeners and farmers, making them available to everyone.
Every one of those potatoes seeds is being cultivated and saved by a gardener or farmer to preserve genetic diversity. This is such important work!