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Posted by Willy Franzen on October 4, 2009. Positions below updated every five minutes.
You’ve probably heard the term “heirloom,” in reference to fruits or vegetables. For the longest time I had no idea what it meant, but eventually I asked someone and the gist of the definition is “any garden plant that has a history of being passed down within a family, just like pieces of heirloom jewelry or furniture.” More often than not the plants are passed down in the form of seeds. Heirloom breeds of plants are important not only for sentimental reasons, but also because they provide genetic diversity. By maintaining old breeds of plants with their unique resistance to disease and pests, we are able to ensure the security of our food supply. Seed Savers Exchange is a Decorah, IA based non-profit that “saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations.”
Seed Savers Exchange maintains “more than 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties,” which makes them “biggest non-governmental seed bank in the United States.” They’re more focused on working with smaller farmers and gardeners, which makes sense because those are typically the people most interested in heirloom varieties. In a lot of ways, the seeds that Seed Savers Exchange provides resemble art. The genetic diversity thing is important, but the history of the seeds and the varieties of flavors of the plants that grow from them is just as important. If you’re intrigued by what Seed Savers Exchange does, you should check out their Jobs page. Right now they have a number of positions posted that seem suitable for entry level candidates including Lab Technician, Collection Assistant – Field Operations, Assistant Curator – Seed Plants, and Horticulturist – Field Manager. The job descriptions go into a lot of detail, so check them out for all of the details.
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Do you do any gardening?