The 10 Best Seed Companies for Heirloom and Non-GMO Seeds

woman pouring seed packet into her hand

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If you’re looking to buy seeds for your vegetable garden from socially responsible seed companies that are not associated with GMOs, Bayer/Monsanto, or any of their subsidiaries, look no farther… Each of the following seed companies provides heirloom, organic or open-pollinated seeds, and has taken the Safe Seed Pledge and tested their stock to be free of GMOs.

What is an Heirloom Seed?

A seed variety is typically considered an heirloom if it is open-pollinated, and existed more than 50 years ago. Heirloom seeds have been grown and saved generation after generation because they have unique and special characteristics that people want—a string bean with a pretty purple-speckled pod instead of plain green, for instance.

These desirable seeds are often passed down through families, but a few seed companies and organizations have also helped preserve heirloom seeds and make them more widely available.

Why Choose Heirloom Seeds?

Heirlooms Have History

Because heirlooms are old, many of these seed varieties have interesting histories. For example, ‘Black Watchman’ hollyhock was grown in Thomas Jefferson’s garden at Monticello (and it’s mentioned in texts as early as 1629).

Heirlooms Are Time-Tested

If so many people have bothered to save a particular plant’s seeds for posterity, you know it must be really special. Heirlooms have been saved and planted across time because of their exceptional flavor, beauty, or hardiness.

Heirlooms Can Be Saved

All plants need to be pollinated in order to produce seeds. But unlike hybrids or GMOs, all heirloom seeds are naturally open-pollinated by wind or insects, meaning you can save their seeds and they will grow true to type year after year.

Heirlooms are Guaranteed Non-GMO

All heirloom seeds are non-GMO. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and means the plants have had their DNA artificially altered in a lab, often with genes from unrelated species it could not naturally breed with. For example, some GMO corn has genes from bacteria that help them resist certain pests. So, by definition, heirloom seeds cannot be genetically modified.

What About Patented Seeds?

The Plant Patent Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1930. It was introduced primarily to benefit the horticulture industry by encouraging plant breeding and increasing plant genetic diversity. They needed a mechanism to ensure that breeders could make a return on their sizable research and development costs.

The two most common types of plant patent are:

Plant Variety Protection (PVP) is like a copyright. Like a copyrighted piece of writing, anyone can enjoy it, reproduce it for themselves and their friends, use it as inspiration—but to publish it, sell it, or put it on a greeting card requires permission (and maybe money). Similarly, gardeners and farmers are free to save and replant PVP seeds for personal use, but they may not sell them.

Utility Patents are more controversial. A utility patent is granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office based on a unique and specific attribute of an individual plant variety, like resistance to a specific disease. A plant variety with a utility patent can only be used for crop production and cannot be used for seed saving to resell, give away, or replant, for 20 years from introduction. Utility patents have major ramifications for seed diversity and the livelihood of subsistence farmers who depend on saved seed, but do not really affect American gardeners.

More and more small and midsize seed companies are developing their own patented seed varieties that have wonderful traits like extra disease protection, unique growing habits, or unusual flavor or coloring. But don’t worry: No one is concerned about whether a home gardener saves 5o cents worth of patented lettuce seed from one year to the next for personal use.

Gardeners are not trying to make money from someone else’s research and development. These patents are exclusively to protect the holder (for 20 years only) from farmers or competing seed companies stealing and profiting from their hard work.

What is far more concerning than patented seed varieties is that the USDA and many state Departments of Agriculture are calling for the regulation of public seed libraries.

In many cases, these agencies consider seed libraries legally analogous to seed companies, which must comply with regulations ensuring against mislabeled, contaminated, or compromised products. The enforcement of such regulations would, at the very least, undermine the purpose of community seed libraries—and at the worst, make the operation of a community seed library virtually impossible.

When it becomes illegal to trade ANY seed of ANY kind, then we have a real problem.

The Safe Seed Pledge

The Safe Seed Pledge was conceived in 1999 when High Mowing Organic Seed Company led a coalition of 9 other seed companies in drafting a statement about their stance on genetic engineering. To date the Pledge has been signed by over 370 seed companies worldwide.

Signing the Safe Seed Pledge is voluntary and unregulated, but it’s a very safe bet that any company that has signed the pledge is committed to the cause. It reads:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately people and communities.”

The 10 Best Seed Companies for Heirloom and Non-GMO Seeds

While there are dozens of great seed companies out there that offer heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, and have also signed the Safe Seed Pledge, I particularly like the following ten companies because I have used their seeds, and they each have something extra special about their mission, their catalog, or their business practices that fosters greater sustainability for people and planet.

Each of the following companies specializes in rare seed preservation, or they are employee-owned, or they focus on seeds that are adapted to a particular climate. The larger companies on this list carry open-pollinated, heirloom and hybrid seed varieties, as well as onion and garlic sets, planting potatoes, berry plants, fruit trees, tools, and more.

If you have any questions about a seed company that is not listed here or on the Safe Seed Pledge list, just give them a call!

I recommend that you consider your values, your gardening needs and your local climate/region when choosing your seed sources.

Seed Savers Exchange (Decorah, IA)

The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is a non-profit organization working to save heirloom garden seeds from extinction. Their focus is on preserving varieties of seed that gardeners and farmers bring to North America when their families immigrate(d), and traditional varieties grown by American Indians, Mennonites and the Amish.

SSE’s 8,000+ members grow heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains from all over the world, and offer them for exchange to other members in their amazing annual yearbook that has over 450 pages.

You can find almost extinct varieties of seed to try in your garden, and all the money you spend with the Seed Saver’s Exchange goes to helping protect seed biodiversity.

This is, hands-down, my favorite place to look for seeds and exciting new plant varieties for my garden.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (Mansfield, MO)

Baker Creek is a family-owned business who’s mission is to promote and preserve our agricultural and culinary heritage. They offer a breathtaking 530-page catalog and website with over 1,350 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs—one of the largest selections of heirloom varieties in the U.S.

Baker Creek also carries one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties. They also specialize in rare and hard-to-find heirloom seeds from over 75 different countries.

MIGardener (Port Huron, MI)

MIgardener is a small Michigan seed company that has over 700 rare and unique vegetable, fruit, and flower seeds. All of their stock is open pollinated, heirloom and organically grown by small family farms—and most seed packets cost only $2!

(PLUS, Small Footprint Family readers get an additional 10% off with this link and discount code SFF10!)

MIGardener is dedicated to preserving genetic diversity in seeds, and recently helped save the ‘Giant Crimson’ heirloom tomato from extinction, making the seeds available to gardeners for the first time in 50 years!

Clear Creek Seeds (Hulbert, OK)

Clear Creek is a small, family-owned business specializing exclusively in open-pollinated, heirloom seed varieties, including flowers, herbs and vegetables. They also offer several variety packs for even more value, like the Pollinator Pack and the Salsa Pack.

They have a smaller selection, but my favorite thing about Clear Creek is that all their seeds come in see-through, waterproof, resealable packages! As a small company, they are able to provide warm, highly personal customer service, great prices and fast delivery.

Botanical Interests (Broomfield, CO)

Botanical Interests is a 25-year old small seed company that carries over 600 varieties of seed, including hundreds of heirlooms and certified organic vegetables, herbs and flowers. You can often find a stand of Botanical Interest seed packets at Whole Foods and other natural grocery stores in the U.S. Their seed packets are some of the most interesting, useful and informative in the industry.

Botanical Interests has both a seed donation program and a seed fundraising program for schools, shelters, and churches in the U.S.

Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (Grass Valley, CA)

Peaceful Valley is a seed company dedicated to organic food production that carries a large assortment of veggie seeds, cover crops, native grasses, pasture and lawn seed, wildflowers, fruit trees and berries, potatoes, onions and garlic.

They also offer a great selection of gardening tools, pest control, season-extending products, composting supplies, growing, propagating and irrigation equipment, and books.

Peaceful Valley offers special pricing programs for farmers, school gardens and landscaping businesses.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds (Winslow, ME)

Johnny’s is a large, well-known employee-owned seed company that has more than 1,200 varieties of hybrid, open pollinated and heirloom vegetables, medicinal, culinary herbs and flowers, including a few varieties they have developed and patented themselves.

If you are homesteading, farming or market gardening, they offer large quantities of seed, as well as a variety of cover crops to keep your soil in good shape.

Johnny’s also has high quality gardening tools, equipment and accessories, cover crop seed, soil amendments and organic pest control products. Their extensive site and catalog is full of detailed growing instructions and helpful tips, even if you don’t buy seeds from them.

Fedco Seeds (Waterville, ME)

Fedco is unique for seed companies because it is a cooperative business where customer members own 60 percent, and employee members own 40 percent. Because the cooperative doesn’t have an individual owner, profit isn’t its primary goal, so their seeds and other products are quite affordable.

Fedco evaluates hundreds of varieties of hybrid, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds and plants at multiple sites, identifying the ones that are particularly productive, flavorful and suited to the northeastern U.S. climate.

Territorial Seed Company (Cottage Grove, OR)

Territorial Seed is a large, family-owned company whose mission is to improve people’s self-sufficiency and independence by enabling gardeners to produce an abundance of good tasting, fresh-from-the-garden food.

They trial and evaluate all their seeds at their farms, and the live plants that they offer are raised in their farm greenhouses. They offer hybrid, open-pollinated and heirloom seed varieties.

Territorial’s germination standards are higher than prescribed by the Federal Seed Act and their farm is certified USDA Organic, Biodynamic® by Demeter USA, and Salmon-Safe by Salmon-Safe Inc. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Seeds of Change (Rancho Dominguez, CA)

Seeds of Change was acquired by the Mars company, which uses GMO corn, soy and sugarbeet in their food products. Unfortunately, since the demand for healthy, organic products is so high, many organic brands (like Annie’s, Erewhon, Horizon, Plum Organics, and more) have been bought out by large industrial food corporations (like Mars, General Mills, Coca-Cola, etc.) who want a piece of the market.

It’s up to you to decide if you want to continue to purchase these brands, despite their new ownership.

However, ownership notwithstanding, you should know that Seeds of Change offers 100% certified organic, open-pollinated, hybrid and heirloom seeds, and they grow all their own seeds on their research farm or within their network of organic farmers. They have also signed the Safe-Seed Pledge.

The reason I mention them here is that, because they have the marketing power of a large corporation behind them, you can get their seeds at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Whole Foods, and lots of other retail chains. Seeds of Change is the only organic, open-pollinated seed company available at mainstream stores nationwide, which makes organic, open-pollinated seed accessible to anyone—including the majority of people who haven’t considered the value of organic, open-pollinated seeds before.

So if you don’t shop online (like my mom), or you’re new to gardening and don’t know where to start, you can easily pick up Seeds of Change organic, open-pollinated seeds for your garden while you are out running errands.

You can find more seed companies that have signed the Safe Seed Pledge here.

What seed companies do you like? Let me know in the comments!

Updated: January 3, 2022

188 thoughts on “The 10 Best Seed Companies for Heirloom and Non-GMO Seeds”

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  1. check out Seeds ‘n’ Such for small packet sizes and scaled prices that get down below $2 a pkt if you order 20 pkt or more

  2. I like your suggestions. There are a lot of good companies out there. Let me add to the list. They are a newer company have a safe seed pledge and offer lots of heirloom varieties. Some of these smaller companies I’ve found are a good source for seed now that the bigger ones are having a hard time keeping up with demand. I also like adaptive seeds if you’re in the PNW.

  3. Territorial seeds are not all heirloom or open pollinated. They do buy seeds from a subsidiary of Monsanto. I weighed the seed packets I received from Territorial and they were underweight. They don’t even give you the amount you thought you were purchasing. They are overpriced for all of these reasons. I think your paying for the drawings on the packets and not for a particularly high quality of seeds. Especially since you don’t even get the weight you paid for!!!!

  4. we get the majority of our seeds from Rohrer’s in Pennsylvania. in “normal” years, they have an in-store event in early spring to kick off the gardening season, it’s great fun.

  5. Botannical Interests in Broomfield, CO. They have good seeds, are independently owned and have taken the Safe Seeds pledge. One of the great things about this company is their seed packets. On the back and inside of the packets are more detailed instruction for planting, fertilization, watering etc. But also suggested usages for each plant, companion planting and recipes.

  6. I’m a big fan of Sow True Seeds in Asheville, NC in part because I live close by. They are all about non-gmo and non-hybrid seeds. They strongly encourage EVERYONE to save their own seeds to the point that in their catalog and on their web site, they give seed saving tips. Additionally, they stand up for justice and carrying for our community.

  7. Thank you for this article about the seed companies. It’s good to know that many organic brand seed companies are being bought up by big corporations. Thanks for the information.

  8. Hello, I live in England and France. Wondering if you know of any companies here that take the same pledge and offer heirloom, organic, open pollinated non Seminis seeds? having trouble finding them

    1. while watching Gardener’s World, i heard Monty Don mention a national seed saving program to which you can subscribe. i cannot remember the exact name, but it can’t be hard to find. i wanted to sign up, but they cannot ship seeds outside the UK. so i envy you, the website looked fantastic!

  9. GMO free. There maybe small pockets of GMO free seed or food around Australia/world. But any garden or market garden down wind of GMO crops is subject to contamination of GMOs. The country standard does not allow for zero GMO content but a percentage. Maybe anything from 1% to 5 % contamination but it is not GMO free, rather an accepted tollerance.

  10. Hello, I just wanted to send a Thank You for your time, especially in your research in seed companies, and sharing that with us. I really didn’t know where to start, and you did the work for me. ?

  11. Thanks for the article. I’d also mention Uprising Seeds out of Bellingham WA, and Turtle Tree Seeds of Copake, NY. Good folks!

  12. I may have missed it but I didn’t see a mention of Mary’s Heirloom Seeds in Ramona, Ca…..anyone have experience with them?? She signed the pledge and only has non-gmo, non-hybrid, open pollinated seeds.

    1. I purchased 11 kinds of seeds this year, 2020. So far most have failed to sprout and if they did sprout they died off soon after. I tried both rockwool and direct planting without luck. Only seeds that seem to be trying to make it were the squash, Zucchini and the sweet corn. All big seeds. None of the small ones made it. Even the corn seeds were small and shriveled, about 80% sprouted and are slowly growing, but no vigorous growth there either.

  13. Lake Valley is a Colorado non GMO seed company which has good prices also Pagano Seeds and sells to small Independent Retailers.

  14. The Buffalo Seed Company in SHAWNEE, KANSAS

    Family owned all the seeds produced by the family, locally adapting seeds with minimum inputs.

  15. Thank you for this information! Sometimes it’s really hard to find non-gmo seeds. A lot of people do not understand how dangerous gmo products can be. My favorite brands are Adaptive Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

    1. I also love and used them for 8 years. However, they’ve stopped shipping since COVID.19 and can’t get anyone to answer to explain why. 🙁

      1. Almost all seed companies are out of stock or backordered with waitlists since COVID. Everyone wants to garden this year and demand far exceeded supply!

  16. Not sure how KITAZAWA SEED CO got on this list, because, for me at least, they are wretched. I won’t go into the details here, but I missed my planting window because of their lousy service. I’m just a small-time gardener and this was a small order, so, maybe for one of the big guys, these people are OK. But for everyone else: Go somewhere else and save yourself a lot of heartache.

  17. You really should check out MIgardener ( They have a great selection of seeds at a great price (99 cents per packet), low shipping costs, and the seeds germinate at nearly 100%. Their seeds are all non-GMO. It’s a small family business, but they do a great job. Your order arrives very quickly, and he’ll ship anywhere. Luke also does videos on Youtube to help anyone growing plants.

    1. i was scrolling to see if anyone was going to mention MIgardener! i love them and their videos! last year was my first garden and i used mainly their seeds. they did amazing and i only had issues with a couple things not coming up, but it was my fault at getting them in the ground too late! this year, 2021, they’ve raised their prices to $2 per pack due to supply/demand & other higher costs due to covid-19. Still much more inexpensive than other non-gmo/heirloom brands out there! they also put a lot of seeds in their packs!

  18. This is a great compilation. Another good source for non-GMO, untreated vegetable, flower and herb seeds for your farm or garden is

    1. Is Twilley Seed still around? My husband’s grandfather owned that company, and my husband spent a number of his summers during the ’70s working in the fields and seeding sheds.

  19. Southern Exposure, Seeds of Change, and Seed Savers Exchange are some of my favorites. I have bought some of all of theirs at the Mother Earth News Fairs. Certified Organic Heirlooms is the Only way to go! Awesome selection of unusually varieties as well! Great biodiversity and great for the bees as well!

  20. I am happy to see your list of seed companies. I purchase for Seed Savers Exchange or Heirloom Organics which I noticed was not listed. They have great bulk packages, I was just curious why they didn’t make your list.

  21. This is AWESOME info!! Thank you so much. I am a life-long gardener (who has had a long life) and needed some new info on what are the good seed producers out there, because the old companies are no longer worthy and their prices are skyrocketing.

  22. Do you know anything about ‘American Seeds’? They claim to be non-GMO, but does anyone know if they’re legit?

  23. Some of the seed companies on your list sell varieties patented by the chemical companies and others. Buying these seeds supports these companies. Please ask companies, before you make a purchase, if they sell patented varieties.

  24. Botanical Interests has the best seed! Local/family owned in COLORADO….and ALL Non-GMO Project Verified (not an easy process!) Good for them!!! I love their customer service and their knowledgable staff! The best germination I have ever found and the best varieties! www(dot)botanicalinterests(dot)com

  25. I love Sandia Seed for chile peppers and Heirloom tomatoes. They have the best selection of Hatch chile seeds available, and I always have great germination! I often thin all the extra seedlings and gently replant them so I get a plant out of every seed! I also love all their super hot peppers like the Carolina Reaper, as well as their sweet peppers like the Shishito and Pimento and their colorful bell peppers. I grow peppers from them every year here in my Colorado garden. I also of course love Baker Creek for all other vegetable seeds. Wish I could grow every pepper seed from Sandia Seed and every other vegetable seed from Baker Creek. 🙂 Just not enough room!

  26. Check out MAURO Seed Co. For every pack of seeds you buy, they donate one to someone in need. Grow one, Give one. Great company, great seeds and a great mission.

  27. Check this out for non gmo seeds and…
    Down with greedy people who ruin the seeds that God made for us because they want to monopolize the supply for profit!!!

  28. Cannabis is all over and every side of the world wants it to be legalized, i just saw this article and this fact shows that the stigma about cannabis is fading with the passage of time.

  29. Are the genetics of non-organic heirloom seeds affected by the chemicals used? I’ve heard of certain chemicals that can be systemic and was hoping you could clarify. TIA!

  30. Thank for the information. It’s very helpful. Would you per chance know if any of these seeds can be grown in international locations? I’ll probably have to check with the companies individually but I just figured I would check in with you .

  31. I like Orchard House Heirlooms. Safe Seed Pledge, in business since 2009 . All heirloom seeds and some organic heirloom.

  32. Surprised you did not have Patriot Seeds on your list that has about 200 heirloom varieties – .

  33. Marge Johnson

    After buying from Peaceful Valley “” and believing that I may have found a safe place to purchase products, I looked through their weed and pest control items and found “spinosad” which is one of the most un-organic products we can use! I would not consider Peaceful Valley to be a safe place to buy if you are truly practicing safe organic growing. It is unsafe for the environment of beneficials. Please reconsider this recommendation. Thank you, Marge in Claremont CA.

    1. Don Boekelheide

      Peaceful Valley has done an excellent job over many decades, and includes many small farmers among their customers. Spinosad, I just checked, is allowed in organic production and OMRI listed (OMRI is the evaluation organization that approves materials for commercial organic growing certification not the appropriate place for an extended discussion, and I will take a careful look at the material based on your clear and honest concerns. Spinosad is, true, a toxin, and the fact that it exists naturally does not change that fact (nor does its ‘organic’ status give it a “free pass”.) As ecological gardeners, we should try to eliminate or at least limit ALL toxins, and most small organic growers do that. However, Small Footprint’s very helpful post focuses on seed companies with clean seed, not toxins, and Peaceful Valley has long been a reliable source of safe seed, with bulk pricing. Pardon a long-winded reply, Hamlet, Act III, scene II. Now, three suggestions: Turtle Tree Seed (; Wild Garden Seed (; and Commonwealth Seed Coop ( This last is very helpful for my fellow gardeners and farmers in the Southeast, as is Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (

  34. Gerald Douglas Frady

    Why do None of the top seed companies sale black Peppercorn seeds for planting ? (from N.C.)

  35. What is s good company to buy from, that doesn’t support Monsanto, for Zone 9 fruits and vegetables? I’m looking for Heirloom, non-gmo, varieties.

  36. Amkha Seed is a family owned seed company in Colorado offering over 1200 open-pollinated/heirloom, non-gmo, and untreated seed varieties. Our primary focus is on providing non-patented and unrestricted seeds suitable for breeding, adapting, and seed-saving. We also support the Open Source Seed Initiative which encourages the free use of plant genetics, and we’re dedicated to helping to preserve genetic diversity that’s been threatened by industrialized agriculture. We currently offer more than twenty OSSI pledged varieties, with new varieties added often. In addition, all new varieties in development through our traditional breeding efforts have been pledged to be released under the OSSI license as they are made available. This is to help ensure that the genetics remain in the public domain for future generations of breeders.

  37. I am a sucker for the weird, wild and unusual type of plants. has some very unusual seeds.

    1. Wow, they even have nine star perennial broccoli! Thanks for sharing!
      On a side note, You’ve provided an insecure link. Here is the secure store link.

  38. Now what if you are OK with GMOs and want seeds for plants that are pest and disease resistant? I mean, without GMOs, more than half of the world’s population would starve to death.

    1. What is interesting to me is that, based on MY research, your typical garden seeds are NOT GMO and never have been. It is only the larger industrial farmer (think wheat and corn and huge farming operations) that use GMO seed. This is just my research, and could be fallible, not denying that.

      Companies mark their popcorn “non-GMO.” Guess what – if you investigate, the corn used for popcorn is NOT GMO and never has been. So just like those water bottles that say “gluten free” – it is a little unnecessary. But those labels sell. I just want to buy seed from a company that is not stocked by the evils that do create GMOs and I want to buy seed from a company that does not get their seed from China. It’s very simple… and yet with all the bloggers and half-accurate, follow the momentum mindest – it’s not.

    1. Usually if someone signs the Safe Seed Pledge, they want to let people know. Give them a call and ask!

  39. Raymond Dean White

    I like and have done business with all of the companies you listed, but I’d add Native Seeds (Tuscon, AZ and Terrior Seeds (Underwood Gardens, Prescott, AZ as both places are invaluable sources of seeds (especially bean varieties) I’ve been unable to find elsewhere. Both companies are a pleasure to do business with.

  40. I’ve been buying from Victory seeds, in Molalla, OR, since 2007 and while they don’t have a flashy website, they have most everything I’ve needed and provide the level of service I expect from a company that sells online. I highly recommend them.

  41. For certified organic sees that are regionally adapted to our short, northeast growing season, I prefer They provide tons of educational resources as well.

  42. Landreth seeds has been a great place to order in large quantity for quality that I have enjoyed.
    They were bought by American Meadows and the I have not needed to order for a couple years because I bought in large quantity, I believe they are still free from Monsanto control. Please confirm for me if I am incorrect.

  43. Seeds For Generations. They are also family run… just about as small business as you can get!

  44. Several of the companies you mention sell patented seeds. Plant patenting is the reason behind the consolidation of the seed industry in the first place. How and why would you promote the patenting of seeds which prevents gardeners from saving their own seeds even if they are certified organic? How can this possibly help small footprint families?

    1. If a seed is heirloom, it can be saved. There are no heirloom seeds on the market that can’t be legally saved.

      Johnny’s offers a pamphlet on their seed patents here. No one at Johnny’s is going to send police to a gardener’s house if they save patented lettuce from one year to the next for personal use. Gardeners are not trying to make money from someone else’s research and development. These patents are exclusively to protect the holder (for 20 years only) from farmers or competing seed companies stealing and profiting from their hard work.

      The Plant Patent Act was enacted by the US congress in 1930. It was introduced primarily to benefit the horticulture industry by encouraging plant breeding and increasing plant genetic diversity. The needed a mechanism to ensure that breeders could make a return on their sizable research and development costs. The two most common types of plant patent are:

      Plant Variety Protection (PVP) is like a copyright. Like a copyrighted piece of writing, anyone can enjoy it, reproduce it for themselves and their friends, use it as inspiration—but to publish it, sell it, put it on a greeting card, requires permission (and maybe money). Similarly, gardeners and farmers are free to save and replant PVP seeds for personal use, but they may not sell them.

      Utility Patents are more controversial. A utility patent is granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office based on a unique and specific attribute of an individual plant variety, like resistance to a specific disease. A plant variety with a utility patent can only be used for crop production and cannot be used for seed saving to resell, give away, or replant, for 20 years from introduction.

      Functionally, this is no different than buying an F1 hybrid seed, which based purely on genetics, gardeners can’t really save reliable seed from anyway. Utility patents have major ramifications for seed diversity and the livelihood of subsistence farmers, but gardeners should not fear Johnny’s or any other seed company will come to investigate their home garden for evidence of saved, patented lettuce seeds.

      What is far more concerning to me than plant patents is that the USDA and many state Departments of Agriculture are calling for the regulation of public seed libraries. In many cases, these agencies consider seed libraries legally analogous to seed companies, which must comply with regulations ensuring against mislabeled, contaminated, or compromised products. The enforcement of such regulations would, at the very least, undermine the purpose of community seed libraries—and at the worst, make the operation of a community seed library virtually impossible.

      When it becomes illegal to trade ANY seed of ANY kind, then we have a real problem.

  45. I love All Good Things Organic Seeds in Ojai, California. Good company philosophy, great seed germination rate and selection and the highest quality of customer service.

    1. Ali,

      Yes, there are many excellent Canadian small seed growers that offer open-pollinated non-GMO seeds. (I am in Canada.)

      Lists can found at Seeds of Diversity ( and Small Farm Canada (

      My favorites for their high integrity and excellent quality are:

      Harmonic Herbs/Norseed

      Prairie Garden Seeds

      Heritage Harvest Seeds

      Salt Spring Seeds

      Casey’s Heirloom Tomatoes

      And there are so many more — most are smaller growers. I am in Alberta so am more familiar with the companies in western Canada but there are also many companies in eastern Canada with good seeds. Just do an internet search for open-pollinated seeds in Canada and you will get a good listing.

  46. I am confused. There are before and after photos of what food used to look like before genetic modification took place. Apparently the non-gmo/no hybrid seeds sold are still genetically modified. We didn’t have orange carrots, or different varieties of apples back then, etc…

    1. GMO refers specifically to transgenic breeding that uses gene guns and other high-tech methods to mix the DNA of species like tomatoes and fish, or viruses and corn. There is no precedent for this. The terms “GMO” and “genetic engineering” do NOT refer to the natural seed breeding and hybridization within species that we have been doing for centuries. Here’s the difference.

    2. DLM, Yes we did have all those different colors of carrots! There are so many different varieties of plants that we never see anymore. They are finally seeing a comeback. I’d like to add that as a retail consumer, you can’t buy GM seeds in a packet off the rack. Thank you Dawn for that clarification! The big biochemical companies have spent billions creating those GMOs so they don’t let them out without the grower signing their life away with contract to use their intellectual property. You and me? We can’t get a GMO unless it blows out of the farmer’s field into our garden! But that’s a whole new topic! :-/

  47. I purchased a packet of green onion seeds at the local seed and supply store in Hilo , Hawaii. It was sold by the University at a hefty price of aroun $3.00 for 6 seeds! When I got home and read the VERY,VERY small print in VERY, VERY light blue ink barely readable,I almost flipped out??There it was GMO??What is up with that? Addionaly, I bought a packet of gum at Wal-Mart,searched for any indication that it was genetically modified and found none. At home I opened it up and there on the inside of the packet was written “genetically engineered “?
    I returned the packet to the store with the sales slip and got my money back and complained about their store being used to sell this not fully tested product to see what genetically modified foods will have on the human body in the long haul.???

    1. Barbara, the USDA doesn’t require the labeling of GM ingredients for the American market. BUT, if that same product is destined to be sold in the EU, it must have a declaration if Genetically Modified ingredients are used. Sounds like you got a product that was labeled for export and/or labeled improperly.

      Something else you should know, all companies that sell seed packets to retail customers sell NON-gmo. You as a consumer CAN NOT buy them. Only commercial growers can, and that’s after signing a contract. Don’t believe the marketing ploy of the “safe seed pledge” Its a hollow claim. You are correct in that companies on one side say “we take the Safe Seed Pledge” and on the other side sell seed varieties from companies like Seminis & Syngenta. They can’t have it both ways! (see my like below) If you do care about helping save the precious biodiversity of our seeds, buy from those that sell Open Source Seed Initiative seeds. See the current list of seed companies here:

      TripleSweet® is a registered trademark of Syngenta Seeds, Inc.

    2. Wal Mart is one of (if not the) most corrupted companies in America. Like McDonalds, I wouldn’t trust them AT ALL and refuse to shop there or very rarely shop there.

  48. Thank you for a very helpful article
    I just would like to mention that I was disappointed by Johnny’s who is charging an exorbitant shipping fee when ordering under $ 200 which I normally do however when I needed to add a few items i forgot to order with my big order The shipping was outrageous in comparison to the order
    I stopped buying from them due to this
    Their prices are high and i am ok with it but padding the shipping is gouging the customer
    USPS offers a small flat rate box for about $ 5.00
    to refuse to use it as they did when I requested it is a clear indication that they want to make money on the shipping,
    Other seed companies are more accommodating and reasonable in their shipping policy IE Southern exposure

    1. I also see the Johnny’s is selling Syngenta Seeds due to one of their major suppliers having been bought by Bayer–the company that now owns Monsanto and is doing away with that name because it has become so “toxic” is many people’s minds….it is getting harder by the day thanks to corporate takeovers, buyouts, mergers, acquisitions and so on to remain free of the large, monstrous corporations…

      1. this is explained very well in an article on Northwest Edible Life

  49. Sugar Moon Farm

    Seed Savers Exchange, Baker Creek, and Territorial are my three favorite seed companies, in that order. I grow heirlooms only, and these companies have never disappointed me!!

      1. This is actually not true at all. Not only are there no GMO seeds in Territorial’s catalog (nor were there ever), but once Seminis was taken over by Monsanto, they began phasing out Seminis as their seed provider as quickly as they could grow their own stock or find other providers. You can read more here.

  50. San Diego Seed Company is another great one! They pride themselves in their hand-picked and packaged non-GMO heirloom seeds, and it’s women-owned and operated!

  51. Please check out Irish Eyes Garden Seeds

    Irish Eyes Garden Seeds
    5045 Robinson Canyon Rd, Ellensburg, WA 98926, USA
    Call: 509-933-7150

  52. I’m surprised that you do not have Turtle Tree Seed on your list. All the seeds they sell are accessed from biodynamics sources making them in my eyes the best source of non-GMO.

  53. Baker’s creek is my favorite seed company, best customer service,
    seed savers my second, southern exposure ordered once great experience and Territorial seed company is great as well good experience
    I didn’t like Johnny’s I ordered one seed pack it’s was over 13.00 dollars just too expensive the seeds didn’t even germinate huge waiste of money. I asked them to take my farm off their list.
    If Monsanto owns them they can’t be an heirloom company they sell hybrids

  54. I was told that Johnny Seed sold to Monsanto Seed Company, with small portion “Employee Owned.”
    Please inform us as “yes” or “No”


    Allen Morgan
    Member of Seed Savers Exchange

    1. No!

      In 2006, through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), Johnny’s Selected Seeds was sold to its employees. In an ESOP, employees receive shares of the company — not any outside investor. Within 6 years, by 2012, employees owned 100% of the company.

  55. Good morning! Don’t forget to include GeoSeed and Twilley Seeds, based out of Hodges, SC. Our state of the art facility allows our Non-GMO seeds to thrive within all sectors of the horticulture world. Whether it is cut flowers, annuals, perennials, herbs, ornamental grasses, vegetable seeds, watermelon or strawberry seeds, these two sister companies have it for you. Our customer service is unmatched and our in house shipping system sends your seeds out in a timely manner!

    1. Good to hear, Emily! I was about to place an order and was looking for confirmation about GeoSeed. I appreciate your comment.

  56. Karen McCarthy

    Another vote of support for Botanical interests seeds in Colorado. I’ve been selling them at my garden center for over 9 years and they have excellent germination. How do I know? Because I use last year’s seed to start many of my vegetables that we sell at our store, then when I’m growing lots of vegetables I need to have even germination. I’ve had inconsistent results with some of Baker Creek and Territorial seedl. I actually have spoken to the folks at Botanical interests and they have somebody on staff whose only job is 2 test the seed coming in that they sell for germination. They also have seeds that do better in shorter growing season areas.

  57. I love Baker Creek. One feature I love about their site is the customer reviews, I can usually find someone close to where I live and see how it did for them. I also go the the Heirloom Festival in Santa Rose every few years to actually see the fruits and veggies. Another favorite is Renee’s, I love all the information on the seed packages. Seeds are so tempting and affordable.

    1. I love Renee’s, too! She used to be “Shepherd’s Seeds” a long time ago. Her seeds are all GMO-free, you’ll find the Safe Seed Pledge there, and I have even emailed questions about growing requirements and received answers from their horticulturist! While I do ‘buy-around’ a little bit, Renee’s is my favorite for unusual and European varieties bred for flavor rather than ship-ability. And the germination is always outstanding, even with leftover seeds that I’ve frozen for a couple of years. . .

  58. Jennifer Lynn

    Great article!

    South GA Seed Co is another good one; a safe seed pledge member. It’s family owned and very owner involved in fact the owners do everything. Also growing varieties that are hard to find like the Blue Shackamaxon Pole Bean it’s a rare one and they stared a new project called the Seed to Sower Restoration project growing other rare ones.

    Store links are below if you would like to check them out. It’s also one of the only NON GMO vegetable seed company in Georgia.


  59. Rose Marie Nichols McGee

    Nichols Garden Nursery is an original signer of the Safe Seed Pledge. All our seeds are non-GMO. untreated and many are rare and unusual. Our family owned seed company began in 1950 here in Albany, Oregon.

    1. I have been buying some of my seed over the years from Nichols seeds out of Or but don’t see them listed, MMMM Enjoying browsing the new catalog this wk.

    2. I buy from your company regularly and have been happy with most of your seeds. I would ditch the marketing ploy of the “Safe Seed Pledge”. Its a hollow claim since no company can sell GM seeds to the retail consumer. This must be a very old post ’cause I know you now support the “Open Source Seed Initiative”. privately sourced seeds and people dedicated to saving the precious biodiversity!

  60. Comstock, Ferre & Co in Wethersfield Ct, which is part of Baker Creek. Another great seed store..with amazing variety!

    1. Comstock Ferre was the oldest seed company in America until it closed and was bought about 4 years ago by Baker Creek. They ceased production of the Comstock label 2 years ago. The seeds sold there now are in exclusively Baker Creek.

    2. I love Pinetree. I’ve used them for years and been very happy with the product. They are also a small family/employee owned company. They frequently have things you can’t get elsewhere (for many years they were the only place I knew to get rat-tail radish or red Brussels sprouts) My favorite thing is the smaller packets for a smaller price. They have an extensive selection of dye plants and medicinal herbs. They’re also the go-to catalogue for soap, candle and homemade health and beauty ingredients and containers.

      1. That was not my experience with Pinetree. I used them for many years, but I found that the plant material they produced was consistently inferior. I suspected that somehow they were not being careful to select the best plants to choose their seed from. I stopped buying from them and found my results improved a lot. I liked their prices and small packets and I was sorry not to have them as a go to company any more.

  61. Seed Treasures located in northern Minnesota. Small seed company run by a husband and wife homesteader couple who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge and grow only non-gmo, open-pollinated seeds. (

    High Mowing Seeds from Vermont is excellent. (

    Also a number of small Canadian companies offer non-gmo, open-pollinated seeds. Harmonic Herbs (garden seed part of their business is now being sold under the name of Norseed) is one of my favourites . (

    Heritage Harvest Seeds, Stellar Seeds, and Salt Spring Island Seeds are also excellent and there are other Canadian small seed producers who grow organically, non-gmo, open-pollinated seeds.

  62. I would definitely add High Mowing Organic Seeds (, who do a good job of educating as well as selling great products. Also, I ordered from Fruition Seeds from New York for the first time this year ( They have a lovely website and sell some unique varieties. I was especially excited about the dwarf tomatoes and the Habanada heatless chile.

    1. I live near to the High Mowing Seeds farms and I would like to add that, from all evidence I’ve seen, not only do they have great seeds, they are very socially responsible community members who treat their workers appropriately as well as being good stewards of the land. They have test gardens where they are always trying new ideas to get the best seeds which grow well in our neck of the woods (Northern VT). They have special open field days when the community is invited to the fields to learn what’s new, ask questions, share tips and enjoy a meal, music and socialize around a bonfire.

    1. I love Pinetree. I’ve used them for years and been very happy with the product. They are also a small family/employee owned company. They frequently have things you can’t get elsewhere (for many years they were the only place I knew to get rat-tail radish or red Brussels sprouts) My favorite thing is the smaller packets for a smaller price. They have an extensive selection of dye plants and medicinal herbs. They’re also the go-to catalogue for soap, candle and homemade health and beauty ingredients and containers.

    1. I was personally trained and certified in biointensive gardening/farming by John Jeavons and have been up to the farm in Willits. Biointensive is a great way to grow!

  63. Great list. I buy from Southern Seed exchange, Renee’s seeds and an Oregon company not on your top 10: Nichols Garden Nursery.

    1. I also buy seed from Nichols Garden Nursery in Oregon. Another Oregon Co., an early signer of the S.S. Pledge, is Victory Seed Company in Molalla, Oregon.

  64. Do you know anything about Swallowtail or Geo Seeds? Swallowtail has great performing seeds at least so far, I have not ordered yet from Geo Seeds they came highly recommended by professional growers, they are wholesale only, which is fine for us. I just wondered if you knew. Also, thank you for your hard work, it is a great website and easy to read articles. Links are good also.

    1. Thank you and welcome! I do not know about Swallowtail or Geo, but if you are concerned, give them a call and see what they have to say!

  65. The Victory Seed Company (Liberal, OR)
    One of the first signers of the Safe Seed Pledge, the Victory Seed Company will never knowingly offer genetically engineered seeds. It is a farm-based, family owned and operated, mission-driven seed variety preservation organization that works to keep heirloom / heritage seed varieties available to gardeners. Any seed not grown on the farm at Liberal is sourced from a small network of other family owned seed growers..Victory Seeds has no connection with large, mainstream seed industry suppliers. All of the seeds offered are open-pollinated (no unstable F1 hybrids), not chemically treated, many are family heirlooms or are otherwise rare, and all are public domain or open-source (seed saving is greatly encouraged!). 100+ years in the community of Liberal . . . 18 years online as the Victory Seed Company.

  66. I do like and use several of these but prefer High Mowing , I am thinking they clearly state that they do not use genetically modified but I havent paid much attention since I decided I liked their company a few years back. Worth checking out if youve never tried them great catolog great prices and best of all great seeds!?

  67. I love Baker Creek, and they supply about 75% of the seeds we use in our garden! Here in Colorado, my family also uses Sandia Seed Company (based in Albuquerque) for hard-to-find pepper varieties and Victory Seeds up in Oregon. We’ve been very happy with both.

  68. Also, don’t forget Backyard Seed Savers (

    ALL of our seeds are non-certified ORGANIC (produced without chemical fertilizers or pesticides) and are grown, harvested, and processed by hand–with love–in our backyard and community gardens in Pullman, WA and Moscow, ID. NONE of our seeds are patented, PVP, or genetically modified (GMO). We offer open-pollinated, public domain seed, as well as heterogeneous (diverse gene) bulk populations. Our seeds have been sourced from all over the world and we are working to adapt them to our local environments while also increasing genetic diversity overall, so varieties succeed in your environments.

    We’ve signed the Safe Seed Pledge, and are also very committed to food and seed justice issues.

  69. Two amazing companies no one has mentioned yet is Adaptive Seeds and Wild Garden Seed in Oregon. They are doing such good work and grow most if not all their own seed. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Carol Deppe and Alan Kapuler, two important plant breeders who sell a small amount of seed on the web, plus a new company in the Seattle area, Root and Radicle Seed Co., which carries regionally adapted seeds. All have taken the safe seed pledge and most are participating in the Open Source Seed Initiative.

    1. Yes I love Hudson Valley seed Library, I found them at the Heirloom festival in Santa Rosa, CA. Last year they are awesome. The owner has a seed saving project great company, good seeds I use them and Baker’s creek my top two seed companies

  70. Marcia Litsinger

    Just being non gmo is not what I want in seeds. I need organic seeds and companies who do not stand up and certify are just plain not telling the truth. It’s too expensive, that’s what they say, too much work. Blah Blah. I’m a small organic farmer and I am willing to stand up and be counted as a business that is helping the world not just greenwashing.

  71. Carolyn Farrell Kelleher

    Please take a look at Fruition Seeds in NY- a wonderful conscientious local seed producers for Northern gardeners.

  72. If you want seeds that are produced in the US try this aspiring project GROWS ALL the seeds unlike ANY other company ensuring you have the best adapted varieties!

  73. Timothy Gierschick II

    These are all great; thanks for the list! I’d also recommend your readers check out the Roughwood Seed Project, saving and propagating rare seed lines, many from the Mid-Atlantic region: I also recommend checking out America’s oldest seed company, D. Landreth Company: Happy growing!

  74. Great list. I’ve purchased from 8 of the 10. I will have to check out those last 2 🙂 one company that I think should have made it on the list is high mowing. I love that company and purchase from them yearly.

    1. I’ve only reviewed the companies that I have bought from and grown out. But it’s good to know about High Mowing for next year! Thanks!

  75. My husband and I are organic farmers and gardeners, and our favorite seed companies made the list: Johnny’s, Baker Creek. I would also suggest Uprisings, Kitazawa, and Seeds from Italy. Love Hudson Seeds, they have been in business for decades. High Mowing… many good folks raising good seed these days!

  76. Dan Nagengast

    Hi, Thanks for doing this. I think you should take a look at our company – Seeds from Italy. Around 600 varieties of Italian grown seeds, mostly open-pollinated, many very old, and selected out by generations of Italian gardeners for flavor and productivity. All imported directly from Italy, where GMOs are definitely frowned upon.

  77. There were a few above I didn’t know because, I guess, because they are east coast. I would add:

  78. Thanks for the list. Just curious why Burpee is not on the list? They have lots of heirloom and organic seeds and are 100% non-gmo. You can order from the catalog or get the seed at retailers. Talk about a great American seed company. Burpee was doing 100 years ago what all of the new companies are raving themselves about now. Burpee is still the leader IMO (and many others).

    1. Burpee has not signed the Safe Seed Pledge, and while they do not carry GMO seeds, they carry hybrid varieties owned by Seminis, a Monsanto subsidiary.

  79. Baker’s Creek is my absolute favorite, Territorial Seed is my 2nd. I’m also fortunate that I have a local grower who will start taking orders in March and start tomatoes, peppers and anything else you want for you, she is certified organic and teaches at our local Tech College as well. Living in NH, it pays to get a jump on the plants prior to May plantings, and I unfortunately can’t start seeds on my own (I think i’m missing a gene or something!)

  80. Fruition Seeds: Your Certified Organic Seed Company

    Founded and farmed in the heart of New York State’s beautiful Finger Lakes region, Fruition Seeds carries over 200 varieties of certified organic open-pollinated, GMO-free seeds customized to thrive in the Northeast. We’re dedicated to promoting natural abundance by offering organic vegetable and herb seeds for sale to home gardeners, market farmers and anyone who shares our love of seed, sun and soil. Our regional focus means we provide our customers with a carefully selected catalog of non-GMO organic and heirloom seeds and transplants that can withstand the range of seasons we experience here in New York.

    1. Thanks for this! Just ordered from Fruition because of this suggestion. Also, thanks smallfootprint for this article.

  81. Belle Crawford

    It would be hard not to add Sow True Seed at – do great things for regional seed systems and open-pollinated varieties.

  82. Seeds of Change is owned by Mars Inc. Mars Inc. has strong ties to the GMO industry as does Walmart where Seeds of Change are sold. “Employee Owned” Means simply that companies provide stock ownership options to their employees.

    1. Yes, I’ve added a note about that to the post. It’s actually a good thing IMO that organic, open-pollinated seeds from Seeds of Change are available at Walmart, Home Depot, etc. The marketing strength of Mars Inc. enables them to bring organic, open-pollinated seeds to anyone, including the majority of people who haven’t thought about organic seeds before, or who don’t shop online, or who are new to gardening.

      Knowledgeable gardeners will make other choices, of course, but like most organic companies now owned by large industrial food conglomerates, Seeds of Change does have an important role to play in educating the majority of people who are just becoming aware of the value of organic products.

    2. Seeds Of Change is no longer a small business; owned by Mars Candy Co.

      Botanical Interests is a family-owned business near Boulder CO that sells as many organic and heirloom varieties as they can, as long as they meet stringent germination tests. ALL seeds are untreated. ( about 600 varieties of seed, seed collections, seed tape, Org. sprouting seed, and seed starting equip. Find them at www(dot) and independent garden retailers in Continental U.S.

      1. Two thumbs up for Botanical Interests! Their seeds have been reliable producers in my gardens for many years. 🙂

  83. The Sample Seed Shop. Family owned and operated, grows many seeds themselves, and has signed the Safe Seed Pledge. A Garden Watchdog top 30 Overall company and top 5 for tomato and perennial seeds.

  84. I would add High Mowing and Turtle Tree seeds to this list. I’m not so sure about Seeds of Change. They are owned by Mars, Inc. and have a pretty poor customer service record.

    1. Romney Dickinson

      agreed, Mars owned or controlled is NOT my cup of tea. Great marketing and that is about it.

      NOTE: Considered a barnyard weed, lamb’s quarter is the best green NOT in a grocery. Easy to grow; real easy. I save this years seeds for next spring. Also, they will fall to the ground and sprout naturally. TASTY.

  85. Christian Flickinger

    Another great seed company that grows and harvests all of their own seeds is Garden Hoard, at – They are a Michigan Small Farm growing heirloom seeds in the midwest!

    They are also on the Safe Seed Pledge list

  86. La Honda, California Wolcott, Vt.

    And many, many small producers throughout the world. Seek out your local suppliers and join seed swaps and exchange programs, get seeds for free. Seed Libraries are also a very good source.



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