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Seed Savers Exchange

Imagine a magical place amid the scenic bluffs of Decorah, Iowa, boasting an array of beautiful gardens that draw thousands of gardeners and other visitors each spring into fall. Then imagine that these gardens showcase only open-pollinated varieties, many of which have been passed down from one generation to the next to ensure their safekeeping.

That place is the 890-acre Heritage Farm headquarters of Seed Savers Exchange, the nonprofit founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy to save and share rare heirloom varieties and preserve seed diversity. “We can only preserve heirloom seeds through active stewardship,” Diane has often said. “If we don’t use them, if we don’t allow them to grow again, they become lost.”

Today Seed Savers Exchange preserves more than 20,000 open-pollinated varieties at Heritage Farm, where seeds are stored in climate-controlled conditions and periodically grown out to maintain their vigor. Visitors to the farm can tour several carefully cultivated display gardens, view heritage livestock breeds (including the rare and beautiful Ancient White Park cattle), visit historic orchards, hike miles of trails, fish for trout, and, over the course of the year, experience events like the ever-popular annual Conference and Campout.

Open from March through October, the Lillian Goldman Visitors Center also offers a variety of seeds and plants, garden gear and tools, and garden-themed art and books for sale in support of Seed Savers Exchange’s mission.

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