It’s no secret where to get seeds for famous-name tomatoes like Sun Gold or any of the other catalog standbys you’ve come to count on. But don’t stop there.
An entire world of genetic diversity and cultural history is available to those who look a little further, courtesy of an emerging group of seed sellers who combine a passion for the unusual with a mission behind each offering.
The mission behind a particular seed variety may be environmental: perennial versions of favorite edibles like kale, for instance, that mean less tilling and therefore less carbon released into the atmosphere, which is especially important on a farming scale. Or it may be to preserve and disseminate traditional seeds from places like Afghanistan, Sudan or the Maldives, threatened communities where the genetics of ancestral plants are imperiled by strife or climate havoc.
Experimental Farm Network, calls “a slow walk into garden radicalism.”
Come for the irresistibly unusual: the Guatemalan Green-Fleshed Ayote winter squash (not your standard orange), the Chinese Pink celery, with its startlingly vivid stalks, or the Sacre Bleu kidney beans (yes, blue). But stay — as Mr. Kleinman and the founders of other like-minded companies hope you will — for the future-focused optimism: not just the seeds’ personalities and the bounty they promise, but the deeper possibilities they represent.
To get adventurous gardeners started, Mr. Kleinman put together a short list of some of his colleagues in the small-scale organic seed movement. And yes, he regards them as colleagues — not competitors.
Cooperative Gardens Commission, providing free seeds to empower people to grow food. More than two dozen companies donated seeds that were distributed last year to more than 300 local and regional hubs.