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BONNIE’S GARDEN: Yesterday’s Visions – Today’s Amazing Seeds

By Bonnie Pega
Bonnie's Garden

It’s that time of year again. New 2020 dated seeds have arrived and I’m so ready for spring (actually I was ready for spring in October).

3 Great Seed Companies

At the Great Big Greenhouse, we carry seeds from three companies:

  • Botanical Interests because of their dedication to quality, great selection of regular and organic varieties and their incredibly informational seed packets.
  • Burpee because of their great selection and great long-standing reputation.
  • Southern Exposure Seed Exchange because they are a Virginia-based company with a great selection of heirloom, organic and open-pollinated seed varieties.

They all have great customer service and quality products. And behind all these seed companies were people who had a vision.

Botanical Interests

Botanical Interests began when Curtis Jones met Judy Seaborn at a job interview in 1995. Avid gardeners, they had a lot in common—so much so they got married. They set out to design a seed packet that reflected who home gardeners really are—artists, historians, chefs, scientists. Their seed packets give extensive information on how to grow each variety, but also give a little bit of the history, even recipes.

Their first year in business saw 96 varieties of seeds stacked all over their dining room table and one employee. Now they offer over 600 varieties and have 44 employees, but their vision of providing top-quality seed and the most informational seed packet on the market still remains.

Burpee

Burpee began in Philadelphia in 1876. An 18-year-old named Washington Atlee Burpee dropped out of medical school to concentrate on breeding livestock. He began growing seeds to provide livestock growers with feed corn for the animals but soon added other vegetable seeds as well. He had a particular interest in the old varieties of vegetables being grown in Europe, but some of them didn’t do well here. He began to selectively breed to come up with varieties that were hardier here.

When W. Atlee Burpee died in 1915, his son David took over the company. In 1991, Burpee merged with the Ball Company and George Ball remains the owner today.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange was started by Dr. Jeffrey H. McCormack and his wife, Patty, who were interested in heirloom seed varieties. In 1982, while Dr. McCormack was a biology professor at UVA, they sent out a small catalog of heirloom seeds. Only 1700 catalogs went out—but they wound up with close to 200 orders. Many of the varieties that Southern Exposure offered were hard to find family heirloom varieties that came from members of the Seed Savers Exchange.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange grew so popular and so labor-intensive, that Dr. McCormack sold it to the Acorn Community Farm in Louisa County, in 1999. Dr. McCormack still maintains a website called savingourseeds.org and is researching medicinal herbs.

Quality Seeds—and NO GMOs

All of these are good companies with quality seeds and none of them sell GMOs. The three together, provide us here at the Great Big Greenhouse with a fabulous selection of seeds.

Come in and let me help you find some new favorites.

To read more from Bonnie, visit our blog

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