There is growing interest among gardeners for untreated, open-pollinated and heritage seeds for vegetable gardening. The listings below, while not conclusive, offer a range of suppliers of organic seeds in the US and Canada.
How to Understand Seed Labels
When sourcing seed sources through catalogs and websites, look for the following labels which are commonly used to identify the seed characteristics:
“U” – Untreated: These seeds have been produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. or subject to genetic modification.
“O” – Organic: These seeds are taken from parent plants which have been organically grown.
“OP” – Open-Pollinated: These seeds are capable of reproducing themselves. Open-pollinated seeds can be dried and saved over winter, then used for planting in the next season.
“H” – Heritage (or Heirloom): These seeds are saved and passed down through generations by gardeners looking to preserve their genetic diversity and the unique qualities of the plant they produce. Heritage seeds may be carried by some of the smaller seed companies, but are more commonly found through local seed exchanges such as “Seedy Saturdays,” the Seed Saver’s Exchange, and Seeds of Diversity (Canada).
What About Hybrids?
Hybrid seeds have been developed to enhance a plant’s growth and fruiting, as well as hardiness. Hybrids are produced by cross-pollinating plants of different varieties in order to improve the characteristics of the resulting offspring. However, hybrid seeds do not always reproduce true to type. That is, second generation plants may produce different results. If you are buying hybrid seeds, look for seeds which are labelled as reproducing “true to type”.
Biodynamic seeds are from farms or gardens which use Biodynamic practices of managing land for ecological balance. The organic growing methods and planting cycles are integrated with the local environment where possible.
Organic Seed Sources in the US
Albert Lea Seed House
Organic seed for soybean, corn, alfalfa, clover, small grains, sorghum, native and lawn grasses.
1414 West Main Street P.O. Box 127 Albert Lea, MN 56007
Phone: 1-800-352-5247 | Fax: 507-373-7032
All Good Things
Certified organic seed company that offers open-pollinated varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds adapted for organic growing conditions and which perform well in diverse climates.
Well known for their attractive, information-rich seed packets, Botanical Interests offers a variety of organic flower, vegetable and herb seeds. The prices are reasonable, with most packets costing less than two dollars.
660 Compton Street, Broomfield, CO 80020
Burpee’s is one of gardening’s most popular catalogs, offering wide variety and reasonable prices. They have a limited selection of organic seed for vegetables. Organic varieties are listed separately in the catalog for easy identification.
300 Park Avenue Warminster, PA 18974
Seeds for organic cover crops and soil amendments, certified seed potatoes and onion sets, seed garlic, hardy fruit and nut trees, berries.
PO Box 520 Waterville, ME 04903
Filaree offers over 100 unique strains of organic seed garlic collected from sources all over the world. They cater to small organic gardeners, plant nurseries and commercial farmers.
182 Conconully Hwy. Okanogan, WA 98840-9974
A certified organic company specializing in gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, ready-to-grow mushroom kits, and mushroom-related products.
P.O. Box 7634 Olympia, WA, 98507
Phone: 360-426-9292 | Fax: 360-426-9377
Great Harvest Organics
Organic seed products grown for organic farmers – wheat, soybeans, corn and alfalfa.
6803 E. 276th St. Atlanta, IN, 46031 317-984-6685
High Altitude Gardens/ Seeds Trust
Over 80 years experience growing gardens and seeds at high elevation. Find seeds from around the world for the coldest climates and shortest seasons. Heirloom, organic, native and high altitude varieties.
4150 Black Oak Drive Hailey, ID, 83333
Phone: 208-788-4363 | Fax:208-788-3452
High Mowing Seeds
The catalog offers over 450 organic varieties of heirloom, Open-Pollinated and Hybrid Organic Seeds. These mainly all certified organic vegetable seeds, but there are also some flowers, cover crops, and gardening supplies available.
76 Quarry Rd. Wolcott, VT 05680
Phone: 802-472-6174 | Fax:802-472-3201
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Johnny’s catalog lists over 300 organic products, and both conventional and organic seeds.
955 Benton Ave. Winslow, ME, 04901
Phone: 1-800-854-2580 | Fax: 800-738-6314
Kitazawa Seed Company
They offer a tremendous selection of Asian Vegetable seeds and are the oldest seed company in America. Kitazawa has over 250 varieties of traditional and heirloom seeds native to Japan.
PO Box 13220 Oakland, CA 94661-3220
Phone: 510-595-1188 | Fax: 510-595-1860
An online service that helps you find local sources for sustainably grown food. They also sell a wide variety of vegetable seed and nursery stock. Read the product notes to see which are organic and/or untreated.
PO Box 1292, Santa Cruz, CA 95061
Phone: 831-515-5602 | Fax: 831-401-2418
Main Street Seed & Supply
Main Street is a small company which specializes in offering small amounts of seed (with the home gardener in mind) for reasonable prices. Their choice of seeds is limited to the basic vegetable varieties.
401 Main Street, Bay City, MI 48706
Mountain Valley Growers
Certified organically grown seed for basil, sunflower, annual herbs, gourmet greens.
38325 Pepperwood Road Squaw Valley, CA, 93675
The Natural Gardening Company
Online catalog offers organically grown and open-pollinated vegetables and herbs. The organic items are clearly marked as such, and the prices are reasonable.
P.O. Box 760776 Petaluma, CA , 94975-0776
Phone: 707-766-9303 | Fax: 707-766-9303
More than 2000 different seeds representing traditional native crops such as corn, bean, squash.
526 N. 4th Ave Tucson, AZ , 85705
Phone: 520-622-5561 | Fax: 520-622-5591
Nichols Garden Nursery
Complete garden seeds catalog featuring new and unusual vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Emphasizing short season varieties, flavor and performance.
1190 No. Pacific Hwy. NE Albany, OR, 97321
Phone: 541-928-9280, 1-866-408-4851 800-422-3985 | Fax: 541-967-8406
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
This catalog offers organic seeds from a variety of seed companies. There is a good mix of edible and ornamental varieties here, as well as books and gardening supplies.
PO Box 2209 Grass Valley, CA 95945
Phone: 530-272-4769, 1-888-784-1722
Plants of the Southwest
Specializes in drought-tolerant US native plants (wildflowers, grasses, herbs, vegetables, shrubs, and trees) and seeds.
Agua Fria Road Route 6, Box 11A Santa Fe, NM, 87501
Phone: 1-800-788-7333 | Fax: 505-438-8800
Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit organization that saves and shares heirloom seeds. Members can choose from thousands of heirloom vegetables, and share rare garden seeds with other gardeners. Downloadable catalog, online seed sales.
3026 North Winn Road, Decorah IA 52101
Phone: 563-382-5990 | Fax: 563-382-6511
Territorial Seed Company
Territorial offers a wide selection of organic vegetable seeds, especially greens, tomatoes and lettuces.
P.O. Box 158 Cottage Grove, OR 97424
Phone: 1-800-626-0866 | Fax: 888-657-3131
The Living Seed Company
An organic and heirloom seed company, Living Seed provides open pollinated, organic and non-GMO seeds, as well as information about the life affirming art of seed saving.
More than 600 varieties of certified organic heirloom tomato seeds.
PO Box 628, Little River, CA 95456
Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seeds
Turtle Tree offers a wide variety of 100% open-pollinated seeds for farm, grain and cover crops as well as vegetables, flowers and herbs.
Camphill Village, Copake NY 12516
Phone: 888-516-7797 | Fax: 678-202-1351
Vesey Seeds for Shorter Seasons
Veseys offers a selection of certified organic seed produced under strict guidelines which govern the production of certified organic products. Canadian-based, but sells to the US market.
PO Box 9000, Charlottetown, PE, Canada, C1A 8K6
Phone: 902-368-7333 | Fax: 800-686-0329
Victory Heirloom Seed Company
A small, family owned company that works to preserve plant varieties by locating, growing, documenting and offering heirloom and rare open-pollinated seeds to home gardeners. Catalog offers a wide variety of rare heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable, herb, and flower seeds.
P.O. Box 192 Molalla, OR, 97038
Wood Prairie Farm
Certified organic seed potatoes, organic vegetable seeds, cover crops and farm seed.
49 Kinney Road Bridgewater, ME 04734
Phone: 1-800-829-9765, 800-631-8027 | Fax: 800-300-6494
Organic Seed Sources in Canada
Dominion Seed House
A leader in gardening products by mail order: flowers, vegetables and herbs (available as seeds, plants, bulbs or cuttings), as well as accessories. Dominion is now a “certified organic enterprise”.
Box 2500, Georgetown ON L7G 5L6
Full Circle Seeds
Open-pollinated, untreated and locally-grown vegetables, flowers, herbs, and more.
Box 807, Sooke BC V0S 1N0.
Canada’s largest seed packet supplier with over 1000 varieties. Their catalog lists many varieties of organic seeds, representing the common popular garden vegetables and herbs.
30 – 9th street, Brandon, MB R7A 6E1
Ontario Seed Company
Canada’s foremost supplier of native seeds for conservation and reclamation.
Box 7, Waterloo, ON N2J 3Z6)
Phone: (519) 886-0557 | Fax: (519) 886-0605
Over 700 varieties of herb seeds plants and gourmet vegetables. All seeds are untreated. Many varieties of open-pollinated and organic seeds are available, with a smaller selection of heirloom seeds.
357 Highway 47, Goodwood ON L0C 1A0
Phone 888-HERB-726 | Fax 1.905.640.6641
Salt Spring Seeds
All seeds are untreated, open-pollinated and non-GMO. SaltSpring grows all its own grow seeds and sells only the most recently harvested.
Box 444, Ganges P.O., Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2W1
Stokes seeds are not organically grown, but they do sell some heirloom varieties and some untreated varieties. Their collection favours hybrid seeds, not open-pollinated, because the superior vigor of the hybrids suit the Canadian northeast growing environment. They do not carry GMO seeds.
Box 10, St. Catharines, ON L2R 6R6
Veseys Seeds for Shorter Seasons
Veseys offers a selection of certified organic seed produced under strict guidelines which govern the production of certified organic products.
PO Box 9000, Charlottetown, PE, Canada, C1A 8K6
Phone: 902-368-7333 | Fax: 800-686-0329
West Coast Seeds
A large supplier of heirloom and organic seeds for coastal growers, West Coast Seeds specializes in year round gardening for those living in the Pacific Northwest.
4930 Elliott Street, Delta, BC, Canada, V4K2Y1
It should be noted that while organically-grown crops have clear benefits to those grown by industrial agriculture, there is no consensus that organic crops grown from conventional seed are significantly different from those grown from organic seed. Some growers are required to use organic seeds to maintain an ‘organic’ certification, but home gardeners may find conventional seed, in many cases, comparable to organic in producing good results.
Most farmers and gardeners would agree, however, that preserving genetic variety is key to overall species health. By using good quality seeds, planting local heritage and heirloom varieties, and learning to dry and store seeds, we are contributing to developing and preserving our future food bank.
For more information, read our article: Vegetable Garden Seed Ordering Tips