Many people ask us “What does ‘heirloom’ mean?” or “What is that vegetable?”
Simply put, heirlooms are those varieties that have been passed down for generations; the seed is saved year after year and shared among families, neighbors, friends, and fellow farmers. The term “heritage” is used the same way in fruits and livestock. Heirloom and heritage varieties and breeds have maintained diversity in their genetics, are adapted to the regional conditions of their origin, reliably produce offspring that is “true to type,” and provide a living link to history. The preservation of heirloom and heritage varieties has never been as important as it is today; a great many of these breeds may be the key to mutual survival in the rough times ahead.
Heirloom (Heritage) – 1) non-hybrid, non-GMO varieties that reproduce true to type when open pollinated/bred; 2) developed before mid-twentieth century.
Southern heirloom – heirlooms that were developed in the South and/or that are unique to the region and her people.
Rare/endangered – varieties that have been obscured or threatened by the expansion of industrial agriculture.