We live in an era characterized by an increasing lack of control over our everyday lives, but one area where we do have the power to make relevant and meaningful choices is our food. Open-pollinated seeds offer us a way to take proactive steps towards creating nutritional sustainability for ourselves and our families through growing home gardens that are filled with varieties tailor-made for flavor, nutrition, disease resistance and climate adaptability! Read on to discover more about open-pollinated seeds, what defines a hybrid seed and how they differ from OP seeds and what are heirloom seeds?
What is an Open-Pollinated Variety?
Open-pollinated varieties (OP) are plants that have self-pollinated or been pollinated by insects, birds, the wind, or other natural means, rather than genetic engineering or hybridization. These varieties are genetically stable, meaning that seed saved from these can produce offspring essentially the same as their parents in terms of characteristics like flavor, shape and texture. Plus, OP varieties, which include heirloom seeds, often taste much better and may be better suited to particular growing conditions. They’re the kind of seeds that your grandparents grew in their garden - robust, hearty plants that can be passed down from generation to generation. By harvesting and reusing open-pollinated seeds, we can help preserve the genetic diversity of our vegetables and ensure that more varieties stay available for future generations to enjoy.
What are Heirloom Seeds?
Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated varieties and often come with some history attached! Generally speaking, heirlooms can be traced back at least 50 years—though many date back much further than that—and represent traditional varieties from around the world that were once commonly grown on family farms or in gardens before industrial agriculture took hold. Heirloom seeds have been passed down through generations due to their superior flavor, disease resistance and performance in certain climates or soil types.
What is a Hybrid Seed?
Hybrid seed is created by selectively cross-pollinating two different parent lines of plants with desirable traits such as disease resistance, higher yields or thicker skins for protection during shipping. The resulting hybrid offspring often has some combination of these traits but cannot reproduce itself accurately because its genetics have been intentionally altered. This means that you must purchase new hybrid seed each year if you want to continue growing it in your garden or farm.
Why Are Open Pollinated Seeds Important?
It’s believed that 75% of crop diversity has been lost between 1900 and 2000. Open-pollinated seeds are essential for maintaining genetic diversity in our food supply, which can help protect us against crop failure due to pests or disease outbreaks in the future. Additionally, OP varieties offer growers more choices when it comes to flavor, color, size and texture. Finally, OP seeds can be saved from one season to the next whereas hybrids cannot since they will not breed true after initial planting; this is important for those relying on their gardens as a secure food source. Furthermore, buying open-pollinated vegetable seeds supports farmers who are committed to preserving the genetic diversity of our food supply instead of relying solely on hybrids. Good news - all of the seeds we sell here at Bucktown Seed Company are open-pollinated, Non-GMO and untreated! We believe in protecting biodiversity and preserving our heirloom seeds for generations to come!
Over the past few decades, we have seen a dramatic shift in how our food is produced. The rise of industrial agriculture has put an unprecedented amount of power into the hands of a few multinational corporations. These companies are using that power to consolidate their control over the food supply chain by seed patents and other means. This poses a serious threat to biodiversity and our ability to feed ourselves in the future. But there is something we can do about it. There is no better time than now to invest in starting, or expanding, a home garden. Whether that be containers on your patio, a 4x8 raised bed or a large plot in your backyard. The mystery and beauty contained within each seed, that grows into a nutrient dense food that sustains us, is simply amazing. Shop our seeds today and join the movement for a more sustainable future!