While many people are sheltering at home during this pandemic, many are finding new hobbies to keep them busy and distracted from today’s anxiety. What better hobby than growing your own vegetable garden? At a time when we are hesitant to go to the grocery store, many have found that a home vegetable garden is just what they need to provide food for their families. Gardening is also relaxing and a way to get fresh air this spring and summer. Online seed companies are booming right now. In fact, several companies had to stop shipping for a while in April to catch up on supply and demand. With most back in business, there’s not a better time to order vegetable seeds online and plant your own sustainable garden. Here are the five best places to order vegetable seeds online.
1. Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Johnny’s Selected Seeds carries a variety of vegetable, herb and flower seeds that can easily be ordered online. Johnny’s is dedicated to providing seeds that are organic and not genetically modified. In fact, Johnny’s Selected Seeds was one of the first companies to sign the Safe Seed Initiative in 2000. Signers of the Safe Seed Initiative will never knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds and plants. The company started as the small business of Rob Johnston, Jr. in 1973. Rob, just 22 years old at the time grew organic vegetables on his small New Hampshire farm and sold the produce and seeds at local markets. As many began ordering seeds from Rob Jhonston, he came out with his first catalog in 1974. By 1982, Rob was one of just 20 US farms named “All-American Selections” that could use their farm as a trial ground and test new seeds. Johnny’s Selected Seeds would continue to grow over the next two decades and expand with a farm, warehouse and Growing Contact Center in Maine. In 2013, Rob won the “All-American Breeders Cup Award. His company continues to fill online orders for many varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. The company’s website also provides organic farming information and advice including how to diversify and about disease resistance. The company also sells growing supplies.
2. Hudson Valley Seed Company
Hudson Valley Seed Company provides vegetable, herb and flower seeds that are not genetically modified and are organic or heirloom. In 2004 Ken Greene was a librarian for Gardinier, New York’s public library. Inspired by the local sustainable food movement, Greene developed a vegetable seed library catalog of seeds that were good for the environment and health with information on history and culture. With his childhood friend Doug Muller, Greene developed an online seed library of organic and heirloom seeds. This developed into the Hudson Valley Seed Company in 2009. Greene and Muller didn’t just want to sell seeds, they wanted to tie each type with a cultural history. They began their Art Pack line. They had 14 artist friends developed stories behind each variety of seed and the packs were sold with the seeds, instructions for planting and growing, the seed’s story and unique artwork on the pack. The company grew fast. What started as seed collections in an old oak dresser grew to a concession stand to a trailer and now a 2 story house on their 5 acre farm that also serves as their online office. Hudson Valley Seed Company not only sells seeds online, but advocate organic and heirloom seeds that are not genetically modified, crop diversity and sustatinability with the Art Packs sharing unique seeds’ special stories.
W. Atlee Burpee founded the W. Atlee Burpee Company on his family farm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1876. What began as a mail order chicken farm expanded to include farm equipment, tools, hogs and vegetable seeds. In 1888, the Burpee family expanded their farm to Doylestown, Pennsylvania where they experimented with crops creating hybrids and bringing seeds in from Europe. In 1909 Burpee’s cousin Luther Burbank visited and established a trial farm in California. At this point, Burpee had the largest mail order and freight business in the country. In 1949, Burpee came out with the popular “Big Boy” hybrid tomato. The company was sold to General Foods in 1970 for $10 million with its headquarters in Westminster, Pennsylvania. Burpee stayed in the family until David Burpee’s death in 1980 but remains one of the leading seed dealers today. The family farm in Pennsylvania became a horticultural center in 1998 where new varietals are created each year. The latest development of Burpee is a disease resistant tomato plant and the “Lemon Drop”, a new hybrid squash.
4. Park Seed Company
The Park Seed Company began in 1868 and continues to be one of the most popular vegetable seed catalog and now e-commerce companies in the USA. The company is based in Greenwood, South Carolina and carries thousands of varieties of vegetable seeds, creating new varieties each year. Park Seed Company was started my 15 year old George Watts Park. Park would sell seeds that he harvested from his family gardens in Libonia, Pennsylvania. Park’s seeds were so popular in town that he printed a small catalog and distributed it. As his business continued to grow, the young entrepreneur printed a monthly pamphlet which provided a catalog of his seeds, a seed exchange program and gardening tips. Park would later marry and settle in Greenwood, South Carolina where his business continued to grow and eventually included a 500 acre farm. Today Park Seed Company is owned by Jackson and Perkins Aquisitions and has a large online sales presence, selling a variety of organic and heirloom seeds as well as gardening kits.
5. Native Seeds/S.E.A.R.C.H.
If you live in the arid southwestern United States, you know how difficult it is to plant and grow vegetables from seeds. In 1983 Barney Burns, Machina Drees, Gary Nabhan and Karen Reichhart volunteered for the Meals for Millions Project in Tuscan, Arizona. The project helped the Native American Tohono O’odhom Nation re-establish gardens to grow sustainable food in their native lands that were destroyed by globalization and colonizing. Working for the Project the group realized that what southwestern Native Americans really wanted was to get back to their gardening roots and plant and grow the seeds that their grandparents grew in the arid region of the USA. The group established the non-profit Native Seeds/S.E.A.R.C.H. to research, develop and help plant and grow those seeds. Today they have over 2000 varieties of vegetable seeds from 50 southwestern Native American communities. The seeds are given free to southwestern Native American communities, sold in stores and sold online to help fund the program.