New Heirloom Seed Arriving!

The holidays come early when you work with heirloom seeds, as shipments from growers start arriving in early November and continue as the seeds are harvested, cleaned, dried and shipped to us for packing.

Some of our seeds arrive in cloth bags with hand-written variety descriptions on them, others arrive in large paper bags tied shut and yet all of them clearly show the care and love put into their growing and production. We wanted to give you a short tour of what it is like when seed arrives!

Heirloom Seeds From Our Grower

Heirloom Seeds From Our Grower

This particular shipment is always accompanied with high anticipation, as it comes to us from one of our growers who is incredibly talented and experienced. Their advice has been invaluable, whether it is in recommending new varieties to offer or catalog suggestions.

Bags of Heirloom Seeds

Bags of Heirloom Seeds

Each variety is in its own cloth bag with the variety name handwritten on it. They are wrapped in plastic to protect them from possible moisture in shipping. This particular box was a bit smaller this year, as we brought home almost this same amount when we visited our grower this past September.

Heirloom Seed Treasure

Heirloom Seed Treasure

When we received the very first shipment of seeds, we were talking about how they resembled bags of treasure. Cindy remarked that this is very much just that- treasure from the past that has been kept alive by people before us that valued these seeds enough to save and preserve them for the future.

That future is now, and we are the recipients of that treasure of knowledge and hard work. This Katanya watermelon is from a woman named Katanya who brought its seeds with her when she immigrated from Russia. It is humbling and thrilling at the same time to hold more than a hundred years of history in a bag in your hands, along with who knows how much future!

Papalo Seed!

Papalo Seed!

Some of the seed is just fun to handle and play with. Papalo is one such variety; an ancient Mexican herb that was largely replaced by Cilantro, a Chinese herb. It is extremely light and feathery, resembling a dandelion seed with its “parachute”. Papalo requires special handling and packaging, as if the seed is broken off of its parachute, the germination suffers drastically. The bag Cindy is holding weighs a couple of pounds at the most.

Handful of Papalo

Handful of Papalo

This handful of Papalo has about a hundred seeds, which have to be packed and shipped in small boxes to prevent them being broken in transit. When we do bulk sales on this it is by the number of plants needed, not by weight!

Bag of Heirloom Corn

Bag of Heirloom Corn

This package was a new treat for us. It is Oaxan Green Dent corn from one of our newest growers. Oaxan Green Dent makes green corn tamales for the Zapotecs of southern Mexico and a very tasty green masa. They produce everything by hand, even the shucking of the cobs and shelling of the corn kernals.

First Peek of Oaxan Green Dent Corn

First Peek of Oaxan Green Dent Corn

Here is what we saw on our first peek into the bag! Very colorful and striking. Very unlike what we are used to seeing as bulk corn.

Oaxan Green Dent Corn

Oaxan Green Dent Corn

A closer look at its colors. Heirloom corn glamor shot!

Hand Packing Melrose Pepper Seed

Hand Packing Melrose Pepper Seed

Of course, all of this new seed arriving means there is work to do. Everything we sell is hand packed, every single packet! As each new shipment of seed arrives we re-verify the number of seeds to a packet, then count that number and find a measurement that corresponds to it. We always try to give a bit more seed than advertised, as each packet is packed by measurement, not individually counted. A new shipment of Melrose Pepper is ready to be packed here.

Thanks for joining us, we hope you enjoyed a brief look at what happens when we receive new shipments of heirloom seed!

2 Responses to New Heirloom Seed Arriving!

  1. rick January 6, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    I enjoyed this article. Could include elev. of the seed source. to help with choosing what will work for the grower/buyer? Since i live around the corner from you, do you have tours or an inhouse sales site? Thanks, rick

    • Stephen January 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

      Hello Rick, thanks for the suggestion! Most of our open pollinated seeds are more adaptable to variations in climate and elevation than a lot of the hybrids that have been bred and crossed for fairly narrow commercial reasons. We put a lot of time into the descriptions to get the detailed info that you need to make your selection based on where you live.

      Right now, we don’t have the staffing or time for tours or a retail location. We do have our seeds at New Frontiers locally, as well as The Native Garden.

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