Saving Seeds with Nature's Crossroads

Nature's Crossroads is a locally owned and operated seed company dedicated to supporting organic gardeners in the Midwest by selling quality open-pollinated seed. It aims to rebuild the supply of locally adapted, Earth-friendly seeds and to increase the number of organic gardeners in our region by means of educational outreach.

Nature’s Crossroads seeds are available online and they are carried at Bloomingfoods. Within the co-op, they are a Principle Six product.

This year, Nature’s Crossroads is calling on local gardeners to help them further develop their seed saving program. The purpose of the program is to provide more regional adapted seeds to Indiana farmers and gardeners, gradually replacing the  company’s certified organic seed with locally grown varieties. Seeds saved through the program will be available online and, as the supply increases, in packets for seed racks.

There are a number of good reasons to practice seed saving. These include:

Seed Security

As family farms have been foreclosed on over the later part of the last century, many prolific and steadfast openly pollinated seeds have been lost. If you have been growing a favorite variety that you are proud of and want to see perpetuated, this program can help achieve that goal. Gardeners will be able to judge the future of these varieties, developing adaptations as they desire, as the seeds acclimate to the growing conditions in Indiana. Nature’s Crossroads will market and sell the seeds in your name, giving you a portion of the money generated by sales. This collaborative effort strengthens seed security in our region.

Advertisement and Marketing

When you provide NC with your saved seed, the company funds all of the marketing, packaging, and germination tests. Every grower who participates is acknowledged on the seed packets and at the seed racks. Information about your farm or garden will be available on the Nature’s Crossroads website, with optional links to your own website.

Income

For seeds sold through the Nature’s Crossroads internet store, seed contributors receive $1 for each packet sold. If you have large quantities of seed (enough to supply the Nature’s Crossroads seed racks), the company can negotiate a bulk price and make payment upfront.

Education

Nature’s Crossroads support gardeners with a knowledge base about saving seed. It can offer advice about the distance and timing required to insure that plants won’t cross-pollinate with other varieties. The company is also working to developing strains with cold tolerance, slow bolting, increased drought tolerance, and other attributes.

As you look through your new seed catalogs, or (better yet) stop in at the East Garden Center to buy seeds in bulk or by the packet, think about growing a little extra this year in order to save seed. It really is an easy process — but remember, open pollinated seeds only, no hybrids. You can email Grant Pershing of Nature’s Crossroads with any questions, and learn more about rebuilding the supply of locally adapted, Earth-friendly seeds at the Organic Seed Alliance.

What is open pollination?

Open pollination is pollination by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms, in contrast with cleistogamy, or closed pollination, one of many types of self pollination. Open pollination also contrasts with controlled pollination, in which all seeds of a crop are descended from parents with known traits. The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants; however, because breeding is uncontrolled and the pollen (male parent) source is unknown, open pollination may result in plants that vary widely in genetic traits. Open pollination often increases biodiversity.