How to Find Regionally Adapted Seeds

Locally produced seed is the root of garden glory for growers in diverse bioregions; here’s how to find seed producers near you that offer regionally adapted seed.

  • Seeds produced by plants in your region have a better chance of growing well unde local conditions than seeds from far away.
    Photo by Getty Images/maxsattana
  • Edmund Frost, one of Common Wealth Seeds’ growers, focuses on variety trial research with many vegetables, but especially cucurbits, such as these butternut squash.
    Photo courtesy of Edmund Frost
  • Mike Levine and Erica Kempter, founders of Nature and Nurture Seeds, develop cold-adapted cultivars in the northern Midwest.
    Photo by Erica Kempter and Mike Levine
  • Even peanuts can gradually adapt to growing conditions far removed from their ancestral climates.
    Photo by Getty Images/hudiemm
  • Snake River Seed Cooperative’s Casey O’Leary has gathered a network of local seed growers.
    Photo by Chelsea Reinhart
  • Find Petra Page-Mann, co-owner of Fruition Seeds, on Instagram @Fruition_Seeds.
    Photo courtesy of Petra Page-Mann

As a child in New York, I thought watermelons were an absolute waste of valuable garden space. I was a whimsical child, but still practical. Our watermelons’ long, trailing vines yielded only a single fruit — and sometimes none — after an entire growing season, so my anticipation was almost always unrequited. Every few years, we’d give them another try, only to reach the same conclusion by September: We should have sown more tomatoes, more lettuce, and more beets.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Like our reticent red peppers, eggplants lacking abundance, late-blooming dahlias, and unenthusiastic peanuts, the watermelon seeds we planted were adapted to a different region. We simply needed different seeds — seeds adapted to our region and its climatic quirks — to have different experiences.

Local Seed is the Heart of Local Food

The oaks growing on my farm in the Northeast are very different from the oaks growing in California. They have to be to deal with the shorter, wetter summers and the much longer, colder winters here. If regionally adapted oak seed makes a difference, why not regionally adapted lettuce? Tomatoes? In fact, life on Earth depends on everything becoming better adapted to its environment.

Just as local food tastes better than commercially produced food, gardening is easier and harvests are more abundant when the seeds you sow are adapted to thrive in your region. There may be no seed more regionally adapted than that you save yourself, but if you’re not inclined to save your own seed, there are plenty of extraordinary stewards who will be happy to share their passion, understanding, and seeds with you.

Before we get into local seed producers, let’s put on a wider lens.

12/13/2018 5:18:14 PM

Two other companies that offer their own homestead grown regionally adapted seeds that are worth supporting are: Sherck Seeds of northern Indiana and Great Lakes Staple Seeds of southeast Michigan



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