I just discovered some place else to check out just outside of Mansfield. Baker Creek sells heirloom variety seeds both nationally through a catalog and directly out of their store. Read about it here:
The store is part of a created country town. From the photos on their website it doesn’t look like it strives for authenticity, but could be a fun place to spend some time. It seems like a more frivilous version of the Seed Savers Farm outside Decorah, Iowa near Burr Oak, which can also be a great additional stop for a Laura fan.
Why Heirloom Seeds Matter
In case you don’t know, most modern seeds are hybrids. Hybrid seed stock is inbred and then crossed. This creates one generation of super seeds, but that generation’s offspring are almost always worthless. You have to buy a new set from the seed company the next year. Previously varieties were breed and seed saved year to year. Normally a farmer didn’t have to buy seed every year.
Varities today are focused on modern agribusiness goals of:
- All maturing at the same time for easy mechanical harvest
- Long shelf life
- Transporting well
- Disease resistent
You’ll notice flavor, variety, multiple maturation dates for a long harvest, and adaption to localized climates and soil types aren’t on that list. Desire to recapture some of those characteristics and to keep alive more than just the handful of varieties of each product have caused a movement to grow and harvest seed from heirloom varieties. Baker Creek is one place that does that. I haven’t ordered from them yet, but a friend’s brother has had nothing but good experiences with them. I think they might be worth an hour or two on your trip. They are going on my list of things to do next time I head south. 😉
UPDATED April 13 2018: I added my current signature block, I did some minor editing and changed the formatting.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.