Heritage and Hybrid Organic Garden Seeds
If you plan to sell USDA Certified Organic produce, you must use organic garden seeds. Organic garden seeds are grown under the same organic conditions as your vegetables.
You might think it can't really matter if the seed comes from a plant that was grown in chemically altered soil, or if pesticides were used on the plant. To a certain extent, you would be right. If you are growing a pot of lettuce for your own use, it may not matter if you use organic seed. In another sense, however, it matters a great deal. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers can alter the DNA of plant seeds. The seeds may not germinate well and they may not produce well.
Organic garden seeds may come from open-pollinated plants or from hybrids, but they may not come from genetically modified stock. All organic garden seeds are GMO-free.
Heritage Organic Garden Seeds
Heritage organic garden seeds are organically grown seeds from old, non-hybridized varieties of plants. Hybridized varieties of plants have been developed to produce specific characteristics. Hybridized produce may be larger, juicier, more colorful, more flavorful, and more insect-resistant or may have a longer shelf-life than the original varieties of the plant. Hybridization is an ancient agricultural practice, and it has produced many wonderful plant varieties.
There are some problems with hybridization, however. The biggest problem is that you can't save the seed from hybrids, because they don't breed predictably. Growing plants from hybrid organic garden seed has unpredictable results - the resulting plants could have any mix of characteristics from the parent plants, but won't have the characteristics of the hybrid.
The second problem with hybridization is that we are in danger of losing some varieties of plants. If the plants don't have certain characteristics, they aren't grown. And it may not be wise to lose that genetic stock. Nearly all of the organic garden seeds available in the US are hybridized seeds. If the parent stock is lost, we may not have a source of new seed.
Many gardeners say that vegetables grown from heritage organic garden seeds are more flavorful than hybridized vegetables. And many organic gardeners use heritage organic garden seeds for their gardens. If you use heritage organic garden seed, you can save the seeds from your plants to use the next year. You can also join a seed-saver group and trade heritage organic garden seeds with other people. People who save and trade heritage organic garden seeds are preserving these older varieties of plants, and are providing a "back up" source of seeds in case it's ever needed.