Grande Ronde Area Seed Savers
Folly Farm is home to a community-built cache of heirloom seeds saved and grown by home growers in northeast Oregon.
We aim to spark interest in saving seeds, build seed-saving skills and knowledge, and support local seed swaps: casual gatherings for home gardeners, micro-farmers, and seed-savers to share gardening tips and exchange seeds. We hold seed swaps at several locations in early Spring and late Fall every year.
Saving heirloom seeds ensures we’ll have more to grow in next year’s gardens, and seeds to share with our next generation of gardeners. By participating in seed swaps, together we will build up a cache of delicious, rare, and regionally-adapted heirloom seeds that grow and thrive here in the northeastern corner of Oregon.
Why save seeds?
An understanding of the food chain and the source of the foods you eat brings to the forefront the full life cycle of every living organism. By growing, harvesting, and saving our own seeds, we take responsibility for making decisions about how and where our food is grown, and the types of food we eat.
A seed is the beginning of the food chain, the key to our entire food supply. Over the last couple of decades, big business has focused seed science on altering the genetic make-up of commercial crop seeds to maximize profits with a shrinking manual workforce. Many commercial crops are now grown with seeds genetically modified (and patented) to absorb chemicals, emit bacteria, or produce sterile seeds. As a result, many growers have become completely dependent on a handful of corporations who supply seeds that possess questionable health quality and probable dangers. By nurturing and saving our own heirloom seeds, we increase reliance on our own resources, and decrease dependence on corporations.
As corporations have bought up small seed companies over the years, locally-adapted seed stocks have withered in favor of hybrids developed to maximize marketability. Seeds that had adapted well to small regions were replaced by seeds that adapted well across wide regions, thus simplifying large-scale farming and mechanical harvesting. We have lost forever many crop varieties with unique nutritional values, simply because they grow best under limited conditions or in small regions. By saving and using our own heirloom seeds, over several generation our seeds will adapt to local conditions on our own, small-scale garden sites, drawing natural nutrients from the local soil.
We humans have a basic and undeniable right to feed ourselves with healthful crops, from seed to seed. Reliable studies supported by reputable scientists now show that heirloom plant varieties carry more nutritive benefits than artificially altered varieties, and carry none of the negative side effects or dangers of genetically altered varieties. As big seed businesses place more controls on growers’ rights to save seeds, we experience a stronger need to reclaim our sovereign right to ensure the security of our own healthful food sources. By growing our own heirloom crops, and harvesting, saving, sharing, and replanting the seeds they produce, we can build and maintain a secure source of seeds to supply our local food chain.
Ever wonder why tomatoes in the produce aisle are uniform size, color, and flavor? Most hybrids and GMOs are bred to maximize revenue through mass production, uniform shipping, and longer shelf-life. When big agribusiness decides a particular variety is not profitable, the variety is taken off the store shelves. Consequently, the number of varieties available for common crops have diminished by over 90% since 1903. By preserving our own heirloom seeds, we nurture biodiversity of vegetables and strengthen their viability in various growing conditions. With good record-keeping, we also procure and preserve our own cultural heritage around those seeds.
Are you a gardener (or aspiring gardener) interested in contributing to our seed-saving and sharing efforts?
Get in touch to get started.