This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Visiting Seed Savers Exchange Part One

September 22nd, 2011

I mentioned on Tiny Trailer Travels Part Six that we stopped at Seed Savers Exchange on our way home. You were all excited about seeing photos from this stop. I finally had some time to sit down and go through all the photos and today is the day!

If you’ve ever driving through the northern part of Iowa, I’d recommend taking a few hours to visit Heritage Farm in Decorah – you certainly won’t regret it. Make sure you allow a few hours to walk around and see all the gardens and the orchard.

We stopped in the visitor center first, it’s full of the most diverse collection of gardening books you’ll ever see. I saw a few that I haven’t had a chance to read yet, looks like I’ll have some great garden reading this winter. They also have a collection of heirloom seeds, as well as other gardening items – and of course you can purchase or renew your membership.

It’s was drizzling slightly the day we went, but we still made it around to all the gardens. Lucky for us the new Diversity Gardens right out front that were installed this spring were in their full glory.

Since Seed Savers focusing on preserving heirloom plants, their gardens aren’t always perfect. You will see plants throughout their life cycle and in the seed setting stage. That means plants are not ripped out when they’re no longer pretty or no longer producing vegetables for harvesting. There was lettuce blooming for seed and cucumbers yellowing on their vines – no botox and facelifting for these garden – the natural cycle is allowed to carry on.

You will also find Diane’s Garden behind the visitors center. Diane Ott Wheatly was one of the founder’s of Seed Savers.

There is so much at Heritage Farm that I decided to break this post down as it was getting quite long. Be sure to allow plenty of time when you visit, you certainly won’t regret it!

Check back tomorrow for part II and a giveaway of a gift I purchased while visiting.

Are you familiar with Seed Savers Exchange? Have you ever visited their farm?

See more from my visit:
Visiting Seed Savers Exchange Part Two
For more photos of my visit to Seed Savers that didn’t make the blog, head on over to my Flickr photostream.

21 Comments to “Visiting Seed Savers Exchange Part One”
  1. kristin @ going country on September 22, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I told you my sad story already of blowing through Decorah without going to the farm. Now I am even more sad, because this is a vegetable garden voyeur’s dream come true . . .

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  2. daisy on September 22, 2011 at 6:09 am

    What a marvelous trip! I don’t know if I’ll ever get up that far north, so thanks for bringing it to me! What gorgeous gardens (even the cucumbers!).

    Reply to daisy's comment

  3. Sue on September 22, 2011 at 6:27 am

    Oh, this will be on my “must-see” list! Beautiful.
    Do you by any chance know what that gorgeous explosion of burgandy is in the top photo? Very eyecatching. Is it Amaranth?

    Reply to Sue's comment

    • Susy on September 22, 2011 at 8:05 am

      Yes I think it was amaranth. I took so many photos, yet didn’t get photos of everything up close. You could easily spend much more time there than we did (3 hours) but we had to get on the road. I’m sure we’ll be back for another visit on our next trip out west.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. SewLindaAnn on September 22, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Thank you for the pictures, they are all so wonderful. It looks like heaven to me! I wonder if they need an aging gardener to move in and help out!

    Reply to SewLindaAnn's comment

    • Susy on September 22, 2011 at 8:06 am

      They might, we chatted with the young guy that tends the Diversity Gardens. He actually built himself a little trailer house that he moves down there during the summer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. goatpod2 on September 22, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Never heard of Seed Savers Exchange or visited there.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  6. Melissa on September 22, 2011 at 8:23 am

    How Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this! Definitely on my list of places to visit one day! I love that picture of the Malabar Spinach (your second to last I think) I’ve been growing that this summer and there’s is beautiful. Mine’s not quite that full yet!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on September 22, 2011 at 9:23 am

      It was a beautiful patch of Malabar. I tried to grow some a few years ago but it didn’t look nearly this nice. Hopefully next year I’ll have a spot of well amended soil to grow a lush patch of it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Allison on September 22, 2011 at 8:46 am

    How gorgeous! I hope to visit one day!!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  8. canned Quilter on September 22, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Love the post! I have been a member almost since the beginning and many of the heirlooms I grow today were originally purchased from there. It is definitely on my list of places to visit : )

    Reply to canned Quilter's comment

  9. MAYBELLINE on September 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I’m familiar with Seed Savers and, until recently, didn’t realize they were political until President Obama made an appearance.

    Thanks for providing a tour.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on September 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

      Yes, I completely agree.

      I found it interesting (actually kind of depressing) that they had Obama give a speech there only a month after he allowed the approval of GMO Kentucky Bluegrass and the basic deregulation of the GMO industry – which is the biggest threat to heirloom, open pollinated seeds. Stinks of hypocrisy to me.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • MAYBELLINE on September 23, 2011 at 11:08 am

        Junk like that drives me deeper into my garden simply listening to music or the birds. Ignorance truly is bliss. The more I know, the more my innards are tied in knots.

        to MAYBELLINE's comment

  10. Jaspenelle on September 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I’ve never visited but I order most of my garden seeds from them and my first tomato transplants (which I saved the seeds from.) I love them.

    Reply to Jaspenelle's comment

  11. KimH on September 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I love The Seed Savers Exchange but its not what it once was. I’ve been around too since the beginning when Kent & Diane started Seed Savers Exchange back when. We were all magazine & pen pal gardening friends back then.. there was no internet. sigh. Seed Savers was a wonderful wonderful project with integrity and heart but it became too much for Diane & Kent to handle on their own, and they started bringing others in. With that, they eventually decided to create a “board of officers”. Others came in with different ideas of what Seed Savers is or what could be. Politice entered Seed Savers and seeds were sent (unknown to some) to world wide seed banks that are potentially controlled by a certain huge chemical company & lobiest. Severe splits within came out of this. Diane Whealy is still on the board.. Kent is not. You can find information regarding all this on google. I cried when I first heard about it. They were near & dear to my heart. I sent several old varieties of veggies I had in my care back in about 1986. I have no idea if one is still carried on, but I didnt see it recently when I looked for it in their yearbook. :(

    I would love to go to the farm though.. someday perhaps I shall since Im much closer than I used to be when I livedi n Texas. Im perfectly cool with jumping in my car & going for a visit a few states over. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • Susy on September 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      Yes, I’ve spent some time reading on this over the past couple years – very sad!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Ashley on September 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Thank you so much for posting these photos! I have been begging DH to plan a trip to Iowa so I can visit them. Last year I bought all of my seeds and some seedlings from them. This year I just bought seeds. They always have some of the most interesting varieties and it’s one of the few places I can find heirloom birdhouse gourds. Looking forward to tomorrow’s post as well!

    Reply to Ashley's comment

  13. Anne on September 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I’ve wanted to visit there for 9 years now. Thanks for sharing the photos! Maybe next year will be the year I get to go…

    Reply to Anne's comment

  14. Mary S. on September 23, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I visited Seeds Savers a couple of years ago — very inspiring and your photos capture it well. I hope you got a chance to check out downtown Decorah while you were there. A great small city.

    Reply to Mary S.'s comment

  15. Melanie on October 14, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    If you come to see Seed Savers you should also make sure to see Dunning Springs, and try one of our awesome restaurants in town. Maybe stay at the Hotel Winneshiek. I live just south of Decorah and it truly is a beautiful area to visit. We are also home of the bald eagle cam. But Seed Savers is not to miss.

    Reply to Melanie's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
Swanky Purple Sunglasses Seeking New Owner

We live on a fairly well traveled road in our little community. It's the main thoroughfare and we get a...