On a perfect summer day last week, Mike and I made the trip to Decorah, Iowa to visit the Seed Savers Exchange. I’ve heard about Seed Savers Exchange for many years, but since our trips to Iowa were often very short, we just didn’t have time to include this in our itinerary. Not so now!
Seed Savers Exchange Mission:
We conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.
The very charming Lillian Goldman Visitors Center was our first stop. I probably should have taken a photo of the inside of this building, with walls filled with their seed offerings and various gardening books and tools, it was a little bit of heaven! I purchased several packets of seed and off we went to explore the test gardens.
“Diane’s Garden” is certainly a highlight! Surrounded by a white fence with a gorgeous red barn as the backdrop, this garden is packed with flowering plants, vegetables and herbs. Many are labeled (and I have a feeling the few labels I couldn’t find have been engulfed by the plants!) and makes it easy to go inside and purchase additional seeds.
Seed Savers Exchange hosts many special events throughout the year and on the day we visited they were preparing for an evening concert.
These Heritage Farm poppies struck a cord with me. For many years we would visit a nearby neighbor who would grow these beautiful flowers and then share their seed pods with us. Their clear pink flowers aren’t too long lasting, but the strong seed pods seem to make up for this.
It was nice to see the plants being grown in a garden setting as well as in more rigid trial beds. It is much easier to appreciate how these will behave when grown at home when you can see how they interact with their neighbors.
In addition to the gardens, there are miles of trails for exploring the property. I won’t lie, it was hot and I only had sandals on, so our hiking was limited. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the folks at Seed Savers Exchange even allow visitors to bring leashed dogs on their visit. If you are traveling with a pet there are no excuses to not stop by here!
Our bit of walking did take us to the historic orchard on the property. The Historic Orchard has over 900 varieties of apple trees and the newly planted Amy Goldman Heritage Orchard featuring Midwestern apple varieties. These apples don’t look like your grocery store apples. They are different colors and sizes and the Seed Savers Exchange serves as a sort of “vault” for these historic varieties.
Just outside the charming town of Decorah, we spent about an hour and a half here but could easily have stayed longer with better shoes and cooler temperatures. Visiting Seed Savers Exchange was a great first stop to our day and we were happy to spend time enjoying the restaurants and breweries which also call Decorah home.
Ready to plan your visit? Go ahead, enter this in your phone and find out just how long it will take you to get here.
Address: 3074 North Winn Rd Decorah, IA 52101