Truelove Seeds, in Philadelphia, also focuses on culturally important varieties, many of them ancestral seeds of growers in the company’s network. These growers understand which traits to select for, so they know best how to preserve any given variety — like the Northern-adapted strain of pigeon peas, or gandules, for example, which East New York Farms in Brooklyn brought to the Truelove mix.

At the West Virginia-based Two Seeds in a Pod, the traditional crops of Turkey are the focus. An astonishing range of peppers beckons, alongside Anatolian watermelons with seeds that look as if an artist had carved decorative markings into them.

A new source offering its first list of seeds this month is Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance, a Black- and Indigenous-led company with a focus on African and African-American crops like Ethiopian kale, Alabama Red okra and four types of collards.

Climate change came into sharp focus for Mr. Kleinman when he did hurricane-relief work with Occupy Sandy. When Experimental Farm Network was formed, the idea of developing carbon-sequestering perennial staple crops — grains, oilseeds, vegetables — remained front of mind.

Adaptive Seeds in Oregon, a catalog rich with open-pollinated food and flowers. “They gave us two sorghum heads full of seed,” Mr. Kleinman said, “and now they, in turn, carry a South Sudanese variety from us.”

Each order taken at one of these places means more genetics have more chances to grow and express themselves — to adapt and evolve.

“Seeds carry almost infinite potential,” Mr. Kleinman posted recently on the @experimentalfarmnetwork Instagram. “They brought us to this day and they’ll carry us to the next.”


Margaret Roach is the creator of the website and podcast A Way to Garden, and a book of the same name.

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