About Our Seeds
What do we mean by "100% Non-GMO"?
A GMO or Genetically Modified Organism is an organism or plant whose DNA has been modified in a laboratory in order to isolate or select for specific physiological traits or in order to produce specific biological products. This is not a natural process and does not guarantee food security (the ability to save seeds) for subsequent years & generations. Our guarantee is that 100% of our seeds are non-GMO varieties, so that we all can be closer to nature and feed each other for generations to come. Genetic modification (the creation of GMOs) is different from the process of selective breeding.
What does “selective breeding” mean?
Selective breeding is the process of selecting specific or favorable plants for natural reproduction in order to gain specific or favorable characteristics in subsequent generations of that plant. The natural reproductive process is controlled by selecting which plants breed/reproduce and which do not. This is not the same as modifying the genetics of a plant in a laboratory (GMOs). This is different from open-pollination, in that only specific plant individuals are chosen to create the seeds i.e. the next generation. A fantastic example is the brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all the same species of plant and all came from the same wild mustard ancestor. Some people wanted larger leaves and the plants were specifically selected year after year, generation after generation, picking only the plants with more or larger leaves each time until they got to what we know today as kale. Similarly, the same ancestor plant was specifically bred and selected for having more flowering tops, giving us what we know today as broccoli.
What do we mean by “Open-Pollinated”?
Open-pollinated plants are ‘out in the open’, free to be pollinated by the wind, insects, birds, humans, and other natural forces. Open-pollination allows for pollen to flow freely between the flowers (reproductive parts) of the plants and creates genetically diverse plant individuals, just as nature would have it. This method of pollination allows for subsequent generations of these plants to “breed true to type” (as long as cross-pollination between varieties does not occur); in other words – the plants will produce offspring with the same characteristics as the parent plants (the beans you save from your garden this year will grow the same beans next year).
What does “cross-pollination” mean?
Cross-pollination is occurring all the time. It simply means that pollen from one flower or plant has pollinated a different flower or plant. Open-pollinated plants are constantly cross-pollinating. Cross-pollination only becomes a problem when you want the seeds you save (of specific plants) to have identical characteristics to the variety you are growing. Some plants do not or have a very low rate of cross-pollination and thus you can grow them at the same time and won’t have to worry about cross-pollination occurring. For example, beans have self-pollinating flowers and thus their pollen has a low chance of traveling to and pollinating nearby bean plants. Some plants cross-pollinate easily with other plants of the same genus or species. For example, if allowed to flower & reproduce at the same time;
- Broccoli may cross-pollinate with other Brassica oleracea plants.
- Sweet, flour, flint, dent, ornamental, and popcorn corn varieties will all cross-pollinate.
- Hot peppers and sweet peppers will cross-pollinate.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with all the types of vegetables that easily cross-pollinate if you want to ensure you are saving the seeds you desire! (check out this cross-pollination guide)
What is an “Heirloom” seed?
An heirloom seed is a “traditional variety of plant or breed of animal which is not associated with large-scale commercial agriculture”. Just like the precious items that have been passed down from your great-great-great-grandmother, seeds can also be passed down from generation to generation (both being referred to as heirlooms). Heirloom seeds are unique in that they include many of the lesser-known herbs and vegetables, and have preserved history. For example, the Sugar Pie Pumpkin has been around since before 1860 – that means people have been planting, growing, eating, and making pies with this delicious little pumpkin for over 160 years!