Sustainable Seed Shopping: Where To Buy Seeds Online
Looking for good sources of heirloom, organic, or non-GMO seeds? Here are some great sites to start off your seed shopping adventure!
If you live in the Northern half of the U.S., soon it will be time to give your seedlings a head start indoors. Shopping for seeds is almost as fun as shopping for shoes (come on all my fellow gardening ladies – you know it’s true!) 🙂 so it’s time to have some fun stocking up for the season.
The sites listed below are all great companies with lots of sustainably sourced seeds, including organic, open-pollinated, and non-GMO options.* Many are family-owned, with a number of unique heirloom varieties that are hard to find elsewhere, and all of them have a sustainable gardening focus. Any of these sites would be a great place to start (or finish) your seed shopping for the year:
This is an awesome organization that has been working to preserve unique heirloom varieties for nearly 40 years. Members can share and swap seeds with the community, so it is a great way to build connections with other gardeners throughout the country. My dad was a member for many years, and met a number of other growers through their network! Click here to shop
With some similarities to the Seed Savers Exchange, SeedWise is an Organic and Non-GMO online marketplace which allows seed farmers to sell directly to home gardeners. This benefits you by providing you with access to a huge variety of seeds, and also benefits the farmer by providing them with more income. Click here to shop
This company boasts “Pure 100% Non-GMO seeds.” All certified organic seeds are non-GMO, but this company takes pride in supplying seeds that are fully organic and untreated, and they have many unique heritage varieties. Their site is very easy to search, and also has some cool tools like a zone lookup, growing guides, and a really awesome seed finder tool that helps you quickly find seeds for specific growing situations (e.g. grows well in containers, tolerates shade, short season, etc.). Click here to shop
Johnny’s is another solid company that has been in business for many years. They are employee-owned, and have great sales throughout the year. My parents shopped through their catalog for unique varieties of seeds every year for many years before online shopping ever existed, but they now have some some helpful online tools such as a hardiness zone map, and an online seed calculator. Click here to shop
Heirloom Organics carries a few non-hybrid, non-GMO organic seeds in regular-sized seed packets, but their specialty is in their unique range of “seed packs” which combine several different unique heirloom varieties into a special sealed packet for long-term storage. So for example, they have a “Chili Pepper Pack,” a “Tomato Lovers Pack,” a “Microgreens Pack,” a “Salad Pack,” etc., each of which contain packages of about 12 different organic heirloom seed varieties. While this may seem overwhelming to the small backyard gardener, it is a fabulous way to try a whole bunch of different awesome heirloom varieties that you may not be able to find elsewhere, and see which ones you like the best. I recommend finding a couple of other gardeners to split these with, and you can share and compare seeds and harvests together! Click here to shop
The Sustainable Seed Company is another good site to find lots of heirloom and certified organic seeds. They are family-owned as well, and have a wide selection of heritage seed varieties – plus they use sustainable power sources to power their facilities, which I love! Click here to shop
* By the way, if you’re wondering what the difference is between the terms “organic,” “heirloom,” “hybrid,” etc. when it comes to seeds, here’s a handy explanation from WeedEmAndReap.com:
I prefer heirloom seeds when buying seeds online because they haven’t been crossbred for characteristics for at least 40 years. Why is this important to me? Well, crossbreeding plants is a natural process, but typically it’s done to improve things like pest resistance or thick skin, and not for optimal flavor. In my opinion, heirloom is the best option for a backyard farmer, when pests can be kept under control and flavor is the top priority. Also, heirloom seeds are always open-pollinated, which means you can save the seeds from year-to-year and get the same variety.
Hybrid seeds are not open-pollinated, and many times the seeds from a harvest of hybrid seeds cannot be replanted with high success.
Non-GMO seeds are something that I absolutely strive for. If I wanted genetically modified plants that were made in a lab, I’d get my produce from the store.
Organic seeds do not come from a chemical or pesticide-sprayed fruit or vegetable. For a company to become certified organic, it can be quite expensive, so I’m comfortable with taking the word of the owner when buying seeds online, if I feel like I can trust them.