Many people ask us, “What does heirloom mean?” Simply put, heirloom foods varieties have been passed down for generations; the seed is saved year after year and shared among families, neighbors, and friends. The term “heritage” is used the same way in livestock farming. Heirloom and heritage varieties and breeds (unlike hybrids and GMOs) produce offspring that is “true to type.” This means the offspring from each new generation of plants or animals maintains uniformity that can be depended on; they “look like the parents”. The offspring of hybrids do not do this, often even producing plants that are not edible (as in the case with many squashes)
Explore the list below to learn more about the varieties we grow on the farm!
Heirloom – non-hybrid, non-GMO varieties that reproduce true to type when open pollinated; developed before mid-twentieth century; and/or sustained by passing down and sharing seed.
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.
Arugula, ‘Roquette’ — Distinctive, sharp, peppery. A nice accent for mixed salads. Greens past their prime may be lightly steamed with other greens such as mustard or turnip greens, or used in creamed soups.
Spicy salad mix — A mix of Roquette arugula and Shunkyo Semi-long greens.
Wild salad mix — A mix of wild greens (which can include wild violets, dandelions, lamb’s quarters, and wild lettuce) mixed with baby greens from the garden (arugula, lettuce, collards, cabbage, and radish). Wild greens have been used in the South – sometimes cultivated – for a long time. Native peoples ate from the wild often, and shared these skills and exchanged seed with European and African settlers beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the tradition lives on to this day.
Radish, ‘Early Scarlet Globe’ — The classic round red radish. Crisp white flesh is mild and tasty.
Radish, ‘Shunkyo Semi-long’ — A distinctive specialty radish from Northern China. The smooth, deep pink, cylindrical roots avg. 4–5″ long and have crisp white flesh. The flavor is both hot and unusually sweet. Edible, smooth, strap-leaf foliage with rhubarb-pink stems.
Radish, ‘China Rose —
Lettuce, ‘Speckled Bibb’ — Attractive light green leaves are spotted with red dots. A great-tasting lettuce. This type of lettuce dates back hundreds of years. The related Bibb lettuce is believed to have originated in Frankfort, Kentucky between 1865 and 1870 by Major John “Jack” Bibb, an amateur horticulturist who grew this variety in a greenhouse in his yard. Around 1870, he began sharing his variety with the town’s people who coined it Bibb’s lettuce.
Cabbage, ‘Golden Acre’ — Sweet tasting, small heads are great fresh and a good sauerkraut choice. Inner flesh is delicious raw or steamed.
Potato, ‘Yukon Gold’
Yellow Squash, ‘Early Golden Summer Crookneck’
Cucumber, ‘White Wonder’
Tomato, ‘Mule Team’
Bell Pepper, ‘Bull Nose’
Hot Pepper, ‘Fish’
Pimento Pepper, ‘Ashe County Pimento’
Sweet Potato Greens
Sweet Corn, ‘Stowell’s Evergreen’
Watermelon, ‘Moon & Stars (Yellow Flesh)’
Onions, ‘Potato Onion’
Garlic, ‘Inchelium Red Softneck’
Sweet Potato, ‘Georgia Jet’
Beets, ‘Bull’s Blood’
Carrot, ‘Black Nebula’
Snow Peas, ‘Mammoth Melting’
Fieldpeas, ‘Iron and Clay’
Turnip Greens, ‘Seven Top’
Spinach, ‘Longstanding Bloomsdale’
Winter Squash, ‘North Georgia Candy Roaster’
Genetics is another big reason why we focus on heirlooms. The use of GMOs threatens the genetic diversity of our food supply. Genetic diversity is a big reason why some plants of the same variety may do better than others, and heirloom seed savers all over the country select their seeds that are shaped by real-world conditions, proven to be resilient. Genetic engineers no longer breed new varieties this way; genes are spliced in labs and many varieties developed this way do not produce fertile seed. Variety critera among GMO methods have more to do with the ability to withstand chemical production, rather than resiliency and sustanability, further increasing farmers’ dependence on petro-chemical conglomerates. Not at Feed the People Farms! Our seed comes from small farmers who continue to steward the old varieties in the old way: pollination.