People frequently want to know why we go to the trouble to grow heirloom vegetables. After all, many of the new hybrids are easier to grow and harvest. Today’s hybrids have been ‘improved’ to produce higher yields, have standard shapes and tougher skins that make them easier to ship, consistent growth that makes them easier to harvest. Not only that, but since they are what we see in the grocery stores, customers are comfortable buying them. Sounds like a farmer’s best dream, right? Here are the top reasons we’ve gone with heirlooms instead.
- Heirloom vegetables have been selected for best flavor through generations of farming families. Family growers save seed each year from the very best of their crops – and pass down that heritage to their children.
- Nutrient values have been shown to be substantially higher in heirloom vegetables than in modern hybrids. Check out the original UT-Austin study HERE.
- Heirlooms are open pollinated and so will grow true to their type in each generation, maintaining the genetic diversity that is essential to a healthy ecosystem. (And it also saves the farmer the need to buy new seed every year….)
- Selecting the best of our own crop to save seed from will eventually, over our own years, produce varieties that are specifically adapted to our soil and climate.
- Heirlooms connect us to our history. Each variety comes with a story and a culture.
It’s true that our veggies will be unique – and for some people that can be unsettling. We are likely to have purple green beans, round okra, alien looking kohlrabi, multi-colored carrots, bright red yard long beans, and huge yellow striped tomatoes.
And we hope you’ll give them a try. Join our heirloom CSA or visit us this spring at the Athens Farmer’s Market. After all, you deserve something special today!