Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Back at Seed Savers Exchange for a close-up look, Part II October 19, 2018

A garden lab at Seed Savers Exchange, photographed in September.


I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT, as an adult, I would grow a big garden from which I would gather produce to eat fresh, can and freeze. But the reality is that, since leaving my childhood farm 44 years ago, I’ve never lived in a place with enough sunny space for a garden.


An easy-to-grow-from-seed flower, the sturdy zinnia, photographed at Seed Savers Exchange.


Sure, I’ve grown tomatoes in pots and seeded lettuce and spinach into the earth, but not with great success. I’ve had my most success with herbs. I began growing those only in recent years and wonder why I didn’t do so earlier. The taste of freshly-clipped rosemary, basil and oregano is superior to dried.


Cow art at Seed Savers Exchange.


While this sign warned of a bull at Seed Savers, I never saw one.


Dying morning glories drape the Seed Savers barn accented by a vintage lawn chair.


While lack of land and time kept me from gardening, I appreciate the art I learned long ago on a Minnesota farm. There I planted, weeded and harvested in the garden.


This signage explains the test garden at Seed Savers.


A sign at Seed Savers for cucumbers I tasted in Faribault.


Flowers and vegetables mix in Seed Savers gardens.


I appreciate those who continue the time-honored tradition of gardening. Like Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. Like family members. Like those who sell fresh produce at farmers’ markets. Like my local library, which has a community garden. From that public garden I sampled this summer lemon cucumbers and chocolate peppers, originating from Seed Savers seeds. And when I entered Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault, I passed by pollinator friendly flowers like the draping Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate blooms, also from the Seed Savers collection.


About those morning glories on the barn…



There’s lots to learn at Seed Savers Exchange.


Seed Savers, even for a now non-gardener like me, proves an interesting place to visit. For the history. For the education shared in signage and plants. For the reminder that it’s important to save seeds, to grow the food we eat, to plant the flowers that bloom beauty into the landscape and into our souls.


So many seeds to choose from at Seed Savers…


…even milkweed seeds to plant for Monarch butterflies.


TELL ME: Are you or have you been a gardener? I’d like to hear your stories. Or, if you’ve been to Seed Savers, I’d like to hear your take on this place.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “Back at Seed Savers Exchange for a close-up look, Part II”

  1. Claudette Says:

    Oh my! Those lemon cucumber seeds are enticing!

    I love gardening too but over the years have reduced to pots or raised beds bought at Costco because of the wildlife. The herbs however are thriving! I guess the wildlife doesn’t like spiced food…

  2. For some reason cows are cute to me 🙂 I am waiting for the cool off to happen here so I can start planting my floral cutting garden. Been in the 90’s and plants tend to either survive or wither a bit. Happy Weekend – Enjoy!

  3. Valerie Says:

    I started saving the seeds from my zinnias to plant the next spring. It feels right and saves money too.

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    Love to have a garden, but it is so much work. I’ve utilized a Alaskan Bucket System style tomato factory [garden] for the last five years. It started out so wonderfully. The last two years have been plagued with issues and diminished yields. I think this is due to the variety grown. I may give it one more year to test that theory. There is nothing quite like homegrown tomatoes. Tacos, salads, pizza & pizza sauce, pasta sauce – cannot get enough. It is easy enough to support your local farmer’s market; however, it is nice to just walk outside and pick what you need. The other issue is we tend to go on vacation for two weeks in August – right turning prime time ripening for most varieties I’ve grown. Sweet Basil, Lemon Thyme, Jalapeno Peppers and various leaf lettuces will always be apart of the landscape in our yard.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I think this is one of the most interesting places that you’ve shared over the years. I’d love to visit

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