I’m picky when it comes to seeds: They should be healthy and disease-free; ideally heirloom and organic; and, with few exceptions, open pollinated (meaning, not hybrids).
I’m also picky when it comes to seed catalogs. I look for companies that specialize in organic, open-pollinated, and/or heirloom seeds. Because unusual varieties may be the most ornamental, I look for companies that list rare or little-known varieties. And, I always give preference to companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, are members of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGTA), and have ideally also committed to not selling any seeds sourced from companies that produce GMO seeds or are affiliated with Monsanto and other GMO companies.
I’ve got old-school preferences, it’s true.
In no particular order, here are nine seed catalogs I’ve come to know and love. There are many other wonderful seed companies out there, including numerous small, regional suppliers. These are the ones I’ve found and used. If you have other recommendations to add, please share them in the comments section below.
High Mowing Organic Seeds
You can’t go wrong with High Mowing Organic Seeds. Their entire line is organic and verified GMO-free. They belong to OSGTA, and were one of the original signers of the Safe Seed Pledge. They do sell hybrid varieties, but their hybrids are well-labeled and many open-pollinated and/or heirloom varieties are also available. Bonus: They offer free shipping with no minimum order.
Territorial Seed Company
You’ll find a wide selection of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds (as well as hybrids) at Territorial Seed Company. They have signed the Safe Seed Pledge. In addition to a range of vegetable and flower seeds, Territorial Seed also sells some fun fruits and vines, including almonds and prickly pear.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
A favorite seed source of mine, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is located in central Virginia and specializes in varieties that thrive in the high-heat, high-humidity environment of the mid-Atlantic and southern states (although they also sell many crops that thrive throughout the country). They stock a wide selection of organic and heirloom seeds (both of which are well-labeled in their catalog and on their website), have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, and are members of OSGTA.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
If you are looking for unusual varieties, you won’t go wrong with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. As their name suggests, the company focuses on heirloom seeds, deliberately seeking out regional varieties from around the world. They have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, do not buy seed from any companies affiliated with GMOs, and offer only non-hybrid seed through their catalog.
Seed Savers Exchange
The Seed Savers Exchange is more than a seed catalog. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to preserving (and sharing) heirloom seed. You can join the exchange for access to more than 12,000 varieties of member-grown and -shared seed, or you can order direct from their smaller commercial catalog. The exchange focuses on open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, offers a wide selection of organic seed, and is a signer of the Safe Seed Pledge. A great source for older or more unusual varieties.
Seeds of Change
100% organic seed — that’s what you will find with Seeds of Change, which grows all of its seed on its own certified-organic farms. The company does sell some hybrid varieties, but sells more open-pollinated and heirloom varieties. They deliberately select varieties based on their ability to thrive when grown in organic conditions. Not surprisingly, Seeds of Change is also a signer of the Safe Seed Pledge.
Hudson Valley Seed Library
Born as a public seed library, Hudson Valley Seed Library has now grown into a small but wonderful seed company. They specialize in heirloom and open-polinated varieties, grow most of their seed on their own certified-organic farm, and have signed the Safe Seed Pledge. Best of all are their “art packs” — beautifully-illustrated seed packs, each with a different custom-designed label.
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Hybrids, heirlooms and open-pollinated varieties can all be had through Pinetree Garden Seeds. The family-owned company is another signer of the Safe Seed Pledge. In addition to standard garden seeds and supplies, Pinetree also sells spice blends and teas, canning supplies, and crafting supplies.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Johnny’s Selected Seeds was one of the original signers of the Safe Seed Pledge, and remains committed to selling only non-GMO seed today. The company is employee-owned, offers a range of hybrid, open-pollinated, and heirloom varieties, and develops its own varieties for market. Johnny’s also caters to farmers and market-growers, and offers many of its seeds in larger, more economical quantities for those customers.
This is not an exhaustive list. Not hardly. Many many wonderful seed companies are doing great work, often specializing in organic, heirloom and non-GMO varieties. If you have a favorite supplier — small or large, regional or national — please tell us about it in the comments section below. Thank you!