Why are growing numbers of people choosing to buy seeds from Irish seed savers?

The ethos here at Irish Seed Savers Association, is to conserve and distribute wonderful rare and heritage varieties, as well as to encourage the skills of saving your own seed and empowering people to do this in their own gardens, small holdings or farms.

All of our seeds are grown and saved in Ireland and are Open Pollinated which allows you to save your own seeds from them, keeping the variety true to type. By choosing Irish Seed Savers’ Open Pollinated Seeds you contribute to keeping food security in your own hands and Irish agricultural biodiversity alive and vibrant.

Download 2022 Heirloom Seed Catalogue

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  • This is a very rare variety coming from the Amish people of Pennsylvania. A cordon, the fruit is slightly plum shaped, medium sized, pink/red, giving many trusses full of fruit. They have a lovely fresh sweet but tangy flavour. Excellent sliced for salads, but good cooked too. Certified Organic
  • Out of stock

    Buan Onion

    2.95
    This is a true native Irish onion bred by Barnie Crombie who was still doing on- ion trials up until the 1980’s when he passed on. However, he had sent seed to the Russian and English gene banks from which Irish Seed Savers Association received seed and we have been growing and saving this unique variety since. It has performed extremely well in the most adverse conditions for ‘good quality onions’, i.e. an average Irish summer. The name comes from old Irish, ‘Long life’, and it is indeed a really good white fleshed storage bulb, often not sprouting until summer the following season. Certified Organic
  • This variety is a French heirloom also known as ‘Brown Spanish’, a standard variety in Europe for over 200 years. It was said by ‘Vilmorin in 1855 in his famous book ‘Les Plantes Potageres’, ‘That the winter supply of onions for Paris and Europe consists chiefly of this variety’. Now it is rare and very hard to find. The onion is a productive early cropper with flat bulbs up to 10cm across, Full of flavour, brown/copper skin and keeps well.
    Certified Organic
  • A hardy annual, with characteristic pungent leaves used in salads, curries and pickles. This variety was brought to us from the Kenyan seed savers in 2017. Very vigorous and easy to grow. For a constant supply sow direct, little and often from early spring. Coriander has a long history of use. Seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. These days the seeds have been found helpful in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Certified Organic
  • This translates as ‘curled, dark green’ an accurate description of this old French variety. The tightly curled leaves are held clear of the ground on long stalks for clean and easy harvest. Certified Organic
  • Flat leaf heirloom parsley from Italy, with early seedling vigour and prolific, strong growing, large, open plants. High yielding dark green, lush leaves with rich, sweet flavour. The thick stalks can be eaten like celery.
  • Good hardy landrace parsley from an Armenian market place (as the name suggests). Flat-leaved, with great flavour and hardy large clumps. We picked from the outdoor plants all through the winter. Certified Organic
  • A traditional French cultivar grown in the alluvial plains of the Seine in Normandy. It has short, chunky stems and lovely bright green foliage, good for autumn and winter harvesting.
    Certified Organic
  • Easy to grow, vigorous variety for spring and autumn sowing. Mildew resistant. Has lovely glossy green leaves that are tender and delicate. Certified Organic
  • Endive is eaten widely on the continent and this French heirloom, broadleaf type is easy to grow; very hardy so can be used for an over-winter crop. Its crisp furled leaves give nice texture to salads, though they have a slightly bitter edge (this stimulates the appetite). Leaves respond well to cut and come again treatment making them a most productive winter salad. Certified Organic
  • This is a brassica plant also known as ‘Chinese Violet Cress’, used for salad or cooking greens. Coming originally from China made popular by Joy Larkom's recommendation, it gives mild but tasty leaves through the winter, followed by beautiful violet flowers in spring which are also edible. Certified Organic
  • Wonderful mustard greens with lush big, brilliant green leaves. A delicious flavour, not too strong. Especially nice steamed, and served with a lemon juice and soya sauce dressing. Certified Organic
  • Mizuna

    2.95
    A Japanese green that grows as a large rosette of finely lobed leaves, crisp with a characteristic peppery flavour that spices up a salad and can also be used in stir fry. To have a continuous supply of young leaves keep cutting regularly. Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    This one captured the interest of many visitors. Brilliant emerald green leaves with curly, serrated-edges - most attractive. A great flavour with the distinct mustard hot tang. It can be used in salads or cooked. Its very hardy and can be grown outdoors all winter as well as under cover, with a long growing season. Certified Organic
  • This variety has been maintained by three generations of the Sweeney family from Gortahork village in Donegal, the original seed was brought back from Scotland by Owen Sweeney in 1910 and saved ever since. A distinct landrace, large drumhead winter hardy cabbage with excellent flavour.
    Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    A fine sturdy heirloom variety, with long, deep green leaves, juicy white stems, giving a fresh taste to salad and stir fry. Certified Organic
  • Beautiful dark green savoy heads of medium size cabbage that are winter hardy, grown out from the native Irish collection.
    Certified Organic
  • A lovely ornamental mustard leaf, with deeply serrated leaves, flashed deep with purple-magenta veining. Quite a tender mild mustard flavour to liven up salads, and good for steaming or stir fry. Certified Organic
  • Salad Mix

    2.95
    A mix of lush cut-n-come varieties of salads. Including lettuce, corn salad, mustard leaves, pac choi, endive, shungiku and herbs. Certified Organic
  • A surprise in the salad bowl – flavoursome serrated leaves that taste somewhere between celery and carrots. Grows well over winter under cover and also provides a spectacular display of yellow and orange flowers in early summer that are a big hit with the bees, hoverflies and other beneficial insects as well as visitors – delightful. Certified Organic
  • This is the oldest known local vegetable variety in Scotland, grown on the Shetland Isles possibly since the 1500’s. The heads are quite open, the green leaves tinged a beautiful pink-purple, deepening as winter progresses. The outer dropped leaves where traditionally used as animal feed. Due to the extreme weather on the Shetlands, the cabbage seeds used to be planted in “Plantie Crubs”, small circular stone walled enclosures before transplanting into larger fields also enclosed in stone walls. This rare cabbage grew beautifully on a windy hillside in Clare, hardy right through the winter, the cabbage itself has a distinctive peppery taste that was once a prized ingredient of mutton stew on the Northern Isles.
  • This is the continental parsley often known as Hamburg parsley. Rather than eating the leaves, this parsley is grown for eating its root. The variety actually comes from Croatia. It has broad shoulders with a conical shape and good flavour. Dig them in autumn/winter and use them as you would parsnips, good roasted with other roots and tubers. Certified Organic
  • From our native Irish collection, these particular Spring cabbages were grown and collected in and around Cork city. Lush tender greens and small pointed heads all through spring. Will produce even in hard winters. Certified Organic
  • A popular native Irish cut ‘n’ come cabbage with great resilience even in difficult growing conditions like waterlogged soil or exposed places. It provides delicious purple/green tender crinkled leaves that can be picked for several months and go on producing more. Lovely addition to the winter garden.
    Certified Organic
  • A productive plant of succulent red stalks, much more juicy and tender than expected from a red variety. Unusual looking with deep red stems with bright green leaves. The stalks retain their colour when cooked. Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    A variety that goes back to 1871, this is a great winter vegetable with good sized, globed roots and white flesh. Very tasty in soups and stews or even roasted, with that distinctive ‘celery’ flavour. Certified Organic
  • A rare, old variety of open-pollinated parsnip. Large broad roots with smooth white skin, utterly delicious when roasted. Very good canker resistance. John, a local grower, reported excellent tolerance to the cold – in the ‘big freeze’ of a few winters ago, after removing the soil on top with a pick axe, he was able to pull perfectly clean parsnip from the frozen ground with no effort – and delighted in their sweet, delicious flavour. Nicky Griffin sows in May, 3 seeds per station, 15cm apart. Some roots reached 3lb in weight, the size of a mans hand across but retained the excellent flavour. Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    Introduced to the market in 1861 selected from wild stock or ‘ennobled’ by a Professor at Cirencester Agricultural College. It was then taken up by Suttons. This long cultivated variety has long tapering roots of good size and pleasant flavour. Certified Organic
  • These are lovely strong plants with large luscious dark green leaves that can be picked from summer to late the following Spring. So sweet and tender they can even be used raw.
    Certified Organic
  • Another rare old variety coming originally from an heirloom collection from Seeds by Size in England. Long tapering roots, sweet to eat and very hardy.
  • A mix of different varieties of kale, cut and come greens and mustard leaves that can be sown often and used when small for baby leaf tangy salad leaves or thinned out and left to mature for delicious, nutritious winter greens.
  • Very tender and mild, a pre 1885 heirloom variety. Big oak shaped leaves can have a red tinge especially after frost, very tender with great flavour.
  • Compact plants with lots of tender curled green leaves that keep going all winter. One of the hardiest kales, leaves sweetening after frost. Grown by Jason, market gardener and seed guardian, who said customers found it very tasty and he could barely keep up with demand at the market. Certified Organic
  • Very productive 1m high kale originating in the west of France prior to 1865, known as ‘Branching Borecole’. Easy to grow, plain leaf kale with spreading foliage. Winter hardy, particularly suited to our climate, reliable and very tolerant of poor soils. Supporter, Hilary Killops suggests eating it, ‘Lightly steamed and served with a sauce of yoghurt and a little chilli pepper.’
    Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    This carrot came out of the Czech gene bank, bred in the 1940s, a time of expert plant breeding. These deliciously flavoursome and very juicy carrots grow to a medium sized main crop.
  • Out of stock
    Delicious vibrant golden-yellow carrot with crisp smooth flesh. It comes originally from the Limburg province in the Netherlands. Grows vigorously from a spring sowing and good for winter storage. It is also proven by some gardeners to be less prone to carrot root fly than the orange varieties. Certified Organic
  • A native Irish selection of hardy and vigorous sprouts, holds its own with whatever the winter weather brings. Overall large plants with numerous big sprouts holding well through winter, but as with any landrace types you will find some variation.
    Certified Organic
  • Now an Irish heirloom, probably once grown in the horticultural fields around Dublin. As the name suggests a great ‘cropper’ of delicious mild flavoured, medium size sprouts that keep on producing all through the vagaries of winter weather.
    Certified Organic
  • This great cauliflower was collected in Co. Dublin in 1982 from an elderly farmer and produces magnificent curds. Kim Tyler told us ‘It is super reliable year after year, can’t remember when I received seed from you but it’s the only cauliflower I grow now it’s so good!’ Sow July/ August and plant out in September for an early crop the following spring; can also be grown in tunnels over winter for an even earlier crop.
    Certified Organic
  • Bi-colour orange/yellow streaked red beefsteak like fruits, though range in size, medium-large. Incredibly beautiful and have sweet, utterly delicious meaty flesh with low acidity. Very, very productive continuing to fruit well into late Autumn. Old American heirloom from West Virginia dating from the 1880’s. Certified Organic
  • A traditional swede/turnip, with purple and white skin growing to a good size. Golden flesh very sweet and tasty, lasting well into spring before going woody, all round ‘excellent’ as described by a supporter. Madeline at Brown Envelope seeds trialled it one winter in conjunction with popular commercial varieties and it came out ‘Best of All’!
    Certified Organic
  • In 2018 we carried out a comparative trial between ‘Major Dunne’ and ‘Major Doon’, to try and ascertain if they were one and the same variety but with different name spellings as can often be the case. The Major Doon seed was acquired from The Heritage Seed Library in the UK who in turn had received it from a donor, Joseph McKeen, who sent them the seed of this Scottish heritage variety when he discovered he could no longer buy it commercially. It’s a superb purple- topped, globe swede with an excellent sweet flavour. It’s great raw and stores well – if you don’t eat them all straight away of course! In the absence of DNA testing, we concluded that Major Dunne & Major Doon are one and the same.
  • We grew out all the six native Irish swede varieties together in 2015 so we could do botanical descriptor work on them. This seed is then a mix of all six varieties and there may be some interesting surprises if the flowers were cross pollinated! Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    A popular variety grown in Cork and donated to us by Eddie Lucey. A round, medium sized swede turnip with purple/magenta skin and delicious golden flesh. Good disease resistance and very hardy even in exposed locations.
    Certified Organic
  • York Swede

    2.95
    Sometimes known as York Purple Top, it has the distinction of being grand champion at the royal winter Fair in Toronto. Smooth, uniform, fine quality roots with purple shoulders and sweet yellow flesh. Small to medium in size and excellent winter keeper.
    Certified Organic
  • The leaves of this variety, (from the 1800’s) are indeed ‘dagger’ like, narrow, long and graceful, purple-red in colour with a metallic lustre. They grow in a thick cluster and picked for a beautiful addition to the salad bowl. The roots are long, smooth and spindle shaped with blood red tender flesh. Certified Organic
  • Introduced in 1911, this old variety has semi globe roots and smooth dark red skin. Deep red flesh and glossy leaves that can make good greens. It matures early but also a single sowing can be harvested over a long period. Here are descriptions from the staff who tried a taste test - ‘moist, mouthwatering, sweet, juicy and tender’.
    Certified Organic
  • A variety of very old heritage dating back to the 1800’s, originating in Egypt. Vilmorin in his crop descriptions in 1885 states ‘Exceedingly early variety, best of all early kitchen garden kinds’ This is echoed in modern times by gardener Bob Flowerdew proclaiming it to have ‘the best flavour’. Early maturing, smooth skin on wide roots, deep crimson/purple flesh both sweet and tender. Very popular among the staff taste tests. Grows above the ground so easy to pull for harvest.
    Certified Organic
  • A rare, smooth-skinned variety from Switzerland. Described by growers as “spectacular, tender bulbs with fantastic flavour and bolt resistant”, “Very successful and absolutely delicious”.
    Certified Organic
  • From the Italian ‘rotonda’ meaning ‘round’, this beetroot grows quite large into perfect round spheres. Very juicy and sweet, with a distinct earthy flavour.
    Certified Organic
  • This translates simply as ‘Round ball’, deep red in colour with a delicious fruity, mild taste particularly good in salads.
    Certified Organic
  • Very productive ‘blood’ red conical beetroot with juicy, intense flesh that remains tender and sweet even when quite large.
    Certified Organic
  • Delicious, smooth, round gold roots with sweet flavoured bright yellow flesh, the colour retained even when cooked. This variety has been ‘rebred’ from old seed stocks to create this vigorous, quick growing brilliant yellow beet.
    Certified Organic
  • The seeds of this variety were brought back from an international slow food gathering in Turin, Italy. We weren’t initially sure whether it was going to be a leaf/chard type or a fodder beet- root crop. When grown in our gardens it turned out to be a vigorous, hardy crop with large light green leaves.
  • This came to us from Baker Creek heirloom seeds in America. A stunning all orange stalk selection that will brighten up the garden, delicious leaves. Certified Organic
  • This variety of Italian heritage, was named after a Roman General ‘Lucius Luccullus’ renowned for his splendid banquets and vast gardens some 2000 years ago. It was introduced in 1914 and won the RHS award of garden merit. Quite hardy through the winter, with heavily ‘crumpled’, bright, lush green leaves and white stalks that can be almost like asparagus when cooked. Young flowering stalks in Spring can be used like sprouting broccoli. It has the seal of approval from Scoil Chroi, Galway, ‘Lucullus a big hit with students of all ages, they loved it devouring it raw.’
    Certified Organic
  • This one is a mix of the many colours of different types of Quinoa, tan, red, orange and black, each with a slightly different attribute - sweeter or nuttier or chewier. Certified Organic
  • From the North of Chile, Red Faro is both productive for the grain and attrac- tive with red-pink foliage and cream seed heads. Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    A favourite from our tomato trials of Latvian varieties. A medium, tear drop-shaped golden tomato of incredible sweetness. Yellow tomatoes tend to be less acidic than red ones. A grower in Meath goes on to say, "I grew Dzintare Lasite outside in a sheltered spot and they did very well, better than red ones". Certified Organic
  • Out of stock
    A favourite of Mona one of our seed guardians who has saved seed of this variety for over 15 years. A cordon giving a plentiful supply of sweet, sweet round medium size bright yellow fruit. Certified Organic
Supported in part by the Department of Rural and Community Development and Pobal through the Community Services Programme. We confirm that our organisation complies with The Governance Code for the Community, Voluntary and Charitable Sector in Ireland.

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