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 2023 Heirloom Seed Catalogue

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  • A very tender and tasty Russian heritage variety. Big oak shaped leaves develop a beautiful red tinge, especially as the cold season develops. Exceptionally resistant to cold weather, this hardy variety is a beautiful and reliable plant to have in the garden.
  • Also known as ‘Branching Borecole’, this productive variety originated in the west of France, with records dating it as far back as 1865. Growing as large as 1m high, this is an easy-to-grow, plain-leaf kale with wide spreading foliage. Particularly suited to our climate, this reliable kale is hardy 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
  • Coming Soon
    This yellow variety was donated to us by enthusiastic seed-saver Jaap Vlaming, and comes originally from the Limburg province of the Netherlands. It grows vigorously from a spring sowing and is good for winter storage. It is proven by some gardeners that this variety less prone to carrot root fly than the orange varieties. The vibrant, golden-yellow roots have crisp smooth flesh, and are delicious cooked or raw. Certified Organic
  • An Irish landrace with classic purple and white skin, growing to a good size. The golden flesh is very sweet and tasty, and the plants last 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
  • This Northern Irish heritage variety is 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! Probably the same cultivar as Major Dunne, based on observation trials. Certified Organic
  • A native cultivar of swede returned to us from the Wellesbourne gene bank, UK. Like other native brassicas, it is hardy and disease resistant. It has a delicate, mellow, sweet flavour, still remembered fondly by many. “The flesh,” says Andrew Williams, “is not tough at all and keeps well through winter”.
    Certified Organic
  • Coming Soon
    Introduced in 1911, this old variety has round roots and smooth dark red skin. The glossy leaves also make good greens. Though it matures early, a single sowing can be harvested over a long period. Here are the descriptions from our staff who did a taste test: ‘mouth-watering’, ‘sweet’, ‘juicy and tender’.
    Certified Organic
  • A very old heritage variety, originating in Egypt and dating back to the 1800s. In a crop description from 1885, the French seed producer Vilmorin states ‘Exceedingly early variety, best of all early kitchen garden kinds’. This is echoed in modern times by gardener Bob Flowerdew who proclaims that it has ‘the best flavour’. Early maturing, smooth skin on wide roots, deep crimson/purple flesh, both sweet and tender. Very popular among the staff in taste tests. Grows above the ground, so easy to pull when harvesting.
    Certified Organic
  • A rare, smooth-skinned variety from Switzerland, the name translates to ‘fire ball’ in German. Described as being bolt resistant, and having spectacular, tender, ball-shaped roots with fantastic mild flavour. Very successful and absolutely delicious.
    Certified Organic
  • This globe-shaped beetroot gets its name from the Italian word ‘rotonda’ meaning ‘round’. Even when the roots grow quite large they maintain their juicy sweetness, with a distinct earthy flavour.
    Certified Organic
  • ‘Runde Kugel’ translates from German simply as ‘round ball’. Deep red in colour with a delicious fruity and mild taste. Particularly good raw in salads.
    Certified Organic
  • A very productive conically-shaped beetroot. The flesh of the blood-red roots is juicy and intense, and remains tender and sweet even when the roots have grown large.
  • This vigorous, quick-growing, brilliant yellow beet was developed by being rebred from old seed stocks. The round, golden roots have smooth skin and delicious, sweet-flavoured, bright yellow flesh. The colour keeps well, even when cooked. It’s also a delight in salads.
    Certified Organic
  • The seeds of this variety were brought back to Irish Seed Savers from an international slow-food gathering in Turin, Italy. A vigorous, hardy crop, with wonderfully large, light green leaves.
  • This variety is of Italian heritage and was named after the 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 ‘crimped’, bright, lush green leaves and white stalks that are almost like asparagus when cooked. Young flowering stalks in spring can be eaten like sprouting broccoli. It has the seal of approval from ‘Scoil Chroi’, in Galway who shared that “Lucullus was a big hit with students of all ages, they loved it, devouring it raw”.
    Certified Organic
  • This quinoa variety has a mix of the many colours of different types of quinoa: tan, red, orange and black. These plants make a stunning addition to any garden with their bright and colourful seedheads, not to mention the nutritional powerhouse of the seeds. Each colour has a slightly different attribute – sweeter, nuttier or chewier - we hope you enjoy them all! Certified Organic
  • From the North of Chile, ‘Red Faro’ is both productive and attractive with red-pink foliage and cream seed heads. Less prone to mold and suitable for our cool, damper climate. Certified Organic
  • Quinoa has been cultivated for about 5000 years and is indigenous to the Andean region of South America. This variety named after the city of Temuco in the Araucanía Region of southern Chile is a surprisingly easy and trouble-free crop. Direct sown in drills in April, it grew up to 1.5m tall, harvested in early September. A very nutritious crop, high in protein and essential amino acids. The seed contains bitter saponins (a chemical defense against birds), which needs to be washed out before use. Certified Organic
  • A favourite from the tomato trials of our Latvian collection. The plants produce medium-sized, teardrop-shaped golden-coloured fruit of incredible sweetness. As it is a yellow variety, the fruit tends to be less acidic than that of the reds. A grower in Meath says “I grew Dzintare Lasite outside in a sheltered spot and they did very well, better than the red ones.” Certified Organic
  • This seed from Poland was collected by the German gene-bank at Gatersleben. A cordon variety that produces quantities of small gold, thin-skinned plum tomatoes, still delicious even in November. Stephen Carrington in Wicklow was still harvesting a few in January from a polytunnel! Growing outdoors as well as under cover, this sweet, mild tomato is a lovely addition to any garden.
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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