Some of the healthiest food we can find is what we grow ourselves. Even in the tiniest of spaces we can produce some amount of food to eat. Whether you are growing in pots on your patio, have a community garden plot or your own substantial home garden, seeds are where it all begins. In addition to the care of our plants during the growing season, the quality of the seeds we choose is important. Where your seeds are sourced from and what you grow can be just as important as how you grow it!

When selecting seeds consider choosing diverse varieties to increase the genetic diversity in your garden. If you have space, plant a couple types of each crop helping to ensure resilience against disease, pests and unpredictable weather patterns. One type of lettuce or tomato might not do well this year, but if you have planted a couple varieties you can still have a successful crop! Pay attention to where and what kind of seeds you are purchasing. Are these seeds from local family growers, small regional farms or large multinational organizations? Consider supporting seed suppliers that are not engaged in supporting GMOs or the use of neonicotinoids which harm bees and other insects. Seminis/Monsanto and Syngenta are two large multinational organizations who supply seed nationwide that you might want to avoid due to these and other issues. If your favorite supplier is not up front with labeling their seed source you can check the Seminis and Syngenta sites as well as ask the supplier where they source their seed.

Look for seed sources that:

  • Are local to you! Seed saved from plants grown locally will perform better than generic seed packets from your local big box store. Local varieties are adapted to your soil, weather patterns and pests in the area. Most suppliers will advertise if their seeds are grown locally, but if you are unsure email to ask.
  • Support the Safe Seed Pledge which guarantees that they do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered plants or seeds
  • Sell heirloom or open-pollinated seed so you can save seeds successfully and reproduce results year after year with proper seed saving techniques. Hybrid seeds can be saved but will not reproduce true to type. Using open-pollinated seeds also supports sustainable agriculture practices and preserves traditional farming knowledge.
  • Are seed exchanges! Look for seed exchanges at your local library, community gardening groups or through local extension offices. Exchanges provide access to a wide array of seeds that may not be available commercially. You can discover unique heirloom varieties, rare cultivars, and plants with cultural significance. Engaging with fellow gardeners also fosters connections, facilitates knowledge sharing, and strengthens the sense of community.

Once you have purchased your open-pollinated seeds and grown this season’s crop, you can learn how to save them, improving your crops over time and saving money. Seed saving is a time-honored practice that empowers gardeners to become stewards of their own biodiversity. By saving seeds from healthy, robust plants, you can perpetuate desirable traits and adapt them to your specific growing conditions. Here’s how to get started:

  • Selecting Suitable Plants: Choose plants with desirable characteristics such as flavor, size, color, or disease resistance for seed saving. Avoid hybrids, as they may not produce true-to-type offspring.
  • Understand if plants are self-pollinating or cross-pollinating: Cross-pollinating plants need to have their flowers isolated if you have multiple varieties in the same area. Starting your first seed saving attempts with tomatoes, lettuce, peas and beans which are annual and normally self pollinated will help you learn and get great results. Biennial plants like carrots or beets which take two years to produce seed are the next step to try. Squash and brassicas (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts) cross pollinate easily and can be more challenging to isolate resulting in seed with unpredictable results. Start easy and as you learn more you can increase the amount and types of seed you save.
  • Harvesting Seeds: Allow seeds to fully mature on the plant before harvesting. For vegetables, this often means letting them reach full ripeness and dryness. For flowers, wait until seed heads turn brown and dry.
  • Processing and Storing: Remove seeds from their pods or fruit, clean off any debris, and air-dry them thoroughly. Tomato seeds can be soaked for a few days, pouring off non-viable seeds that float daily. The seeds at the bottom can then be dried completely before storage. Store seeds in a cool, dry place in airtight containers or envelopes. Label them clearly with the plant variety and the date of harvest.
  • Sharing the Bounty: Consider sharing your saved seeds through exchanges, your HMN Chapter, or with friends and neighbors. By spreading seeds, you contribute to the collective pool of biodiversity and enrich the gardening community.

Here are some of our favorite regional seed suppliers and some books to learn more about saving seeds and reproducing plants from your own gardens!

New England:

  • Fedco Seeds, – ME based cooperative selling gardening, farming and orcharding supplies. Wide variety of local grown, biodynamic and organic seeds.
  • Johnny’s Selected Seeds, – ME based supplier of organic, F1 hybrids and heirlooms.
  • HIgh Mowing Organic Seeds, – VT based supplier of organic seeds both hybrid and heirloom.



  • Territorial Seed Company, – OR based company specializing in heirloom and open pollinated seeds.
  • Seed Savers Exchange: – IA based non-profit organization. Supports a seed bank with over 20K varieties of heirloom seeds & facilitates a gardener to gardener seed swap as well as seeds for sale.
  • Adaptive Seeds, – OR based company specializing in pacific northwest grown open pollinated and organic seed.
  • Uprising Organics: – WA based supplier focusing on organic, open-pollinated seed from small family farms in the pacific northwest



  • Native Seeds Search:, AZ based non-profit conservation organization, specializing in seeds adapted for arid landscapes from southern CO to central Mexico.
  • Seed Trust:, CO based organization specializing in seeds regionally adapted for the southwest and high altitude regions.

Books on seed saving to find at your local library:

  • The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Flowers, Trees, and Shrubs by Robert E Gough
  • Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition by Suzanne Ashworth
  • The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving by Seed Savers Exchange edited by Lee Buttala & Shanyn Siegel
  • The Seed Saving Bible 12 in 1: Top Notch Techniques to Collect, Store and Build your Seed Bank to Growing Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, Plant and Herbs for Years, 2024 Edition by Bruce Holmes