What is an Heirloom Seed?

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Good Witches Homestead

You can barely walk through a farmers market or produce stand without seeing signs proclaiming “heirloom vegetables for sale” — and who doesn’t want to snack on an heirloom carrot or cook with heirloom squash? The word “heirloom” pulls at our heartstrings and reminds us of simpler things and slower times. Heirloom has also become a hot marketing buzzword for vendors and a term that’s often confused with other phrases, such as “certified organic,” “locally produced,” “non-GMO,” and “non-hybrid.” Some people simply use the term to mean odd, unique, or somehow nonstandard in appearance; however, the term has a specific meaning that’s often overlooked by vegetable vendors and seed salespersons.

The Origins of Today’s Heirloom Craze

What exactly is an heirloom seed? The heirloom history started with an enthusiastic vegetable breeder and bean collector named J.R. Hepler (“Hep”) and his son, Billy, who both recognized that there’s something special about…

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