Seed Savers Exchange

Jerry Ceres, NJ CE G, lifetime member of SSE


Seed Savers Exchange (SSE), a nonprofit tax-exempt organization that is saving oldtime food crops from extinction. Kent and Diane Whealy founded SSE in 1975 after an elderly, terminally ill relative bestowed three kinds of garden seeds brought from Bavaria four generations earlier. The Whealys began searching for other heirloom varieties (seeds passed down from generation to generation) and soon discovered a vast, little-known genetic treasure.

Since the Mayflower first landed, gardeners from every corner of the world have brought along favorite seeds when their families immigrated. Many of these heirloom varieties are still being maintained by gardeners and farmers in isolated rural areas and ethnic enclaves. Today, due to constantly shrinking rural populations, elderly gardeners often cannot find anyone who will continue growing their living heirlooms. When elderly seed savers pass away, unless their seeds are replanted by other gardeners, their outstanding strains become extinct. Future generations will never enjoy them and invaluable genetic characteristics are lost forever to gardeners, orchardists and plant breeders.

SSE's 8000 members are working together to rescue endangered vegetable and fruit varieties from extinction. These members are maintaining thousands of heirloom varieties, traditional Indian crops, garden varieties of the Mennonite and Amish, vegetables dropped from all seed catalogs and outstanding foreigh varieties. Each year 1000 members use SSE's publications to distribute such seeds to ensure their survival. SSE has no monetary interest whatsoever in any of these varieties and wants only to save them for future generations to enjoy.

You don't have to be keeping heirloom seeds to join SSE; your desire to try some of these beautiful, highly flavored varieties is enough. If you've never grown vegetablesfor their seeds, SSE will teach you easy seed saving techniques. Nongardening members also enjoy SSE's publications immensely and their annual memberships provide vitally needed membership financial support. SSE's headquarters is located at 180-acre Heritage Farm near Decorah, Iowa, where several unique collections are permanently maintained and displayed: 13,000 endangered vegetable varieties, 700 old-time apples and 200 hardy grapes. SSE publishes three annual publications:

Seed Savers Yearbook comes out each winter and contains names and addresses of over 1000 of our members, and 19,000 listings for 11,450 unique varieties of garden vegetables and fruits.
Summer Edition (120-150 pages) is published in July/August and contains: Plant Finder Service used by members and historic gardens to locate lost varieties; Plant Profiles of SSE's finest heirlooms; informative articles; and interviews.
Harvest Edition (120-150 pages) is published in October/November, has articles about: SSE's Campout Convention; activities at Heritage Farm; and genetic preservation projects working with flowers, herbs, fruits and endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.

Please visit the Seed Savers web site at:

Annual membership is $30 (optional fixed income fee of $25). To receive a four-page color brochure describing Seed Savers projects and publications, send $1.00 and your name and address to:

Seed Savers Exchange, 3076 North Winn Road, Decorah, Iowa 52101

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IN Jersey
Jerry Ceres/ Colts Neck, New Jersey /