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Southern Exposure Seed Exchange



Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a worker-run cooperative, with every worker receives equal pay and has a voice in the decisions of the company. Located in Virginia:

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange offers more than 700 varieties of vegetable, flower, herb, grain and cover crop seeds. We emphasize varieties that perform well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, although gardeners and farmers over the country grow our seeds. As of 2017, over 60% of the varieties we offer are Certified Organic, and over 60% are grown by small farmers we know and contract with directly. We offer many unusual Southern heirlooms, One of our gardens in spring including peanuts, southern peas, naturally colored cotton, collards, okra, roselle, turnip greens, corns for roasting and meal, and butterbeans. We do not sell chemically treated seeds.



http://www.southernexposure.com/about-us-ezp-18.html


COMMENTS:
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 88
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
21
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I give this seed source 10 out of 10 acorns. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is my go-to for all my seed. I've been an organic gardener for over 30 years, so when looking for varieties that would grow well in the heat, like where I now live in central Florida, they are a resource that is second to none. I've found wonderful new varieties for all things vegetable and flowers for my gardens. Their descriptions are very clear about what does well in heat and humidity and wet weather. One of the things I like best about this company is their detailed descriptions both in their catalog and on their website on any plant's particular requirements and when to harvest. Take huckleberry, for instance. The berry is ripe when it has gone from glossy to dull black. I would've gotten that wrong. And they make spectacular jam 😀 Because of their attention to detail, a shout-out to the source of the seed, and way-to-much-fun catalogue and website, I'm theirs forever.
Please don't buy seeds from the box stores and give your money to companies like this. Please.
 
Wilson Harrison
pollinator
Posts: 526
Location: Missouri Ozarks
80
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I give this seed source 10 out of 10 acorns.

With all the seed suppliers that seem to focus on amassing as many varieties as possible, or on touting the latest-greatest varieties, it's nice to have a source like Southern Exposure whose focus is on what works in their little corner of the world.  And as a Missourian--too far south to be a northerner, too far north to be a southerner, too far west to be an easterner, and too far east to be a westerner--it's great to have a seed supplier with plenty of options for those of us in the "upper south."

The catalog is fun and whimsical, is crunchy rather than glossy-magazine-like, offers many varieties of many species, and beginning and advanced gardeners alike could do worse than to consult the catalog as their sole guide to growing veggies and etc.  The snapshots of seed-supplying farmers and gardeners, found in the beginning of the catalog, are a fun read, too.

SESE offers old heirlooms with colorful histories alongside newer open-pollinated varieties selected to perform in a particular climate.  Roughly half of my garden seed from the past five years has come from SESE, and I don't think I've had a single packet that didn't germinate or didn't grow true-to-type.

I have found their prices to be quite competitive; they often beat the other more popular suppliers, especially on a cost-per-seed basis.  Customer service has always been excellent, to boot.

Southern Exposure is not to be overlooked, especially not by southerners, and not even by quasi-southern-ish Missourians!
 
Karen Donnachaidh
gardener
Posts: 1508
Location: Virginia (zone 7)
357
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I give this seed source 8 out of 10 acorns.

I have only recently requested and received my first catalog. I've yet to find time to make my selections and place the order. But, I can say that just looking through their catalog....I love this company!

From their catalog:

Our Mission
We encourage cooperative self-reliance in agriculture. We promote and participate in seed saving and exchange, ecological agriculture, reducing energy use, providing locally adapted varieties, and regional food protection.
To further these aims, Southern Exposure offers: heirloom varieties to conserve and distribute rare and endangered varieties; open-pollinated varieties to encourage seed saving and exchange among gardeners; disease- and insect-tolerant varieties to reduce pesticide use; and varieties for local and small-scale growers to encourage regional food production.



Located in Mineral, Virginia, this company offers lots of cultivars with proven performance and stability in our region. It's great that their catalog marks the varieties that are well suited to the growing conditions of the southeast, with our hot/humid summers and predominantly clay soils. They make it so easy! They have an amazing selection of heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable/flower/herb/cover crop seeds, mushrooms, cotton, garlic/onions, potatoes/sweet potatoes, gardening supplies, books/dvds....

They have a full Calendar of Events, much of it taking place here on the east coast; but, if you're near Augusta, Georgia, you can catch them in the next few days at the Georgia Organics Conference Feb. 16-17; or, at the Mother Earth News Fair in Belton, Texas from Feb. 17-18. Almost all of the other events listed are up and down the east coast.

Now, I have mentioned before (in another review), I don't buy many seeds. I have saved my own for many years. Therefore, the small number of seed suppliers that I will do business with - must be top quality. I feel good about placing an order with this company and I am sure that soon my acorn rating will be 10/10.
 
Wilson Harrison
pollinator
Posts: 526
Location: Missouri Ozarks
80
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I forgot to include in my above review another cool feature of SESE.  When you request a catalog you receive a member number, printed above your name on the mailing label.  Enter this code upon checkout and receive 5% off your order!  And all for just asking to get a catalog in the mail.
 
Mike Barkley
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 3164
Location: Gulf of Mexico cajun zone 8
1475
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I give this seed source 10 out of 10 acorns.

A few years ago I was going to be moving to a new climate & soil so I started researching which new foods to grow. Learned via the university agriculture department that TN Red Valencia peanuts will thrive here. No other kind of peanut will. As I recall Southern Seed exchange was the only place that sold them. A grumpy old ex-farmer drunk from the area told me peanuts would never grow in hillbillyworld. Never in a million years 'cuz he knew everything about farming. Fourth generation from those seeds is in the ground now & doing very well. I planted some in his bean & corn plot when it died later that first year. (water is important) I've never harvested that patch & they keep popping up every year. Right in his face.

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1798
Location: Massachusetts, 5a, flat 4 acres; 40" year-round fairly even
191
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They're pretty awesome--they're run by a worker-owner cooperative if someone didn't mention that, and they are also a commune, living together and sharing income.  They do some permaculture practices, keep animals, and some members are quite focused on permaculture.
 
Matt Mill
Posts: 102
Location: Reeds Spring, MO; zone 6b Ozarks
34
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I give this seed source 10 out of 10 acorns.

Very few seed suppliers provide the level of growing information that SESE does, and those are usually the companies focused on commercial growers (Johnny's, High Mowing) with prices and varieties that reflect that focus. SESE is really focused on their region and on supporting a highly sustainable, homesteading, permie-type grower. Their prices are very competitive as well. Here in southern Missouri, they have become the first place I buy from, as much as anything because they reliably provide good information in their catalog (and "garden guide") and on their seed packets.
 
Allen Ayers
Posts: 12
Location: East Tennesee, Zone 7
5
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I give this seed source 10 out of 10 acorns.

I'm extremely fond of this company! Their selection is top-notch for southern growers, with a wide range of plants that thrive in the sweltering heat of the Deep south and the occasional cold snaps of the Upper South. Their selection of seeds has been an enormous help in developing my landraces, with almost all of them having excellent germination and survival rates (with exception of the frost tender ones that I tried to zone-push because I'm stubborn...). Another touch I really like are the growing guides they ship along with some of the seeds; while I didn't really need them, it was a very thoughtful addition. I highly recommend this company to all southerners along with anyone who would like heat-adapted seeds.
 
Mark Reed
pollinator
Posts: 470
Location: SE Indiana
257
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I give this company 10 out of 10 acorns.

Don't let the name fool you. While they and most of their growers are in the south east their seed does very well farther north. The genetics in my landrace brassica, cowpeas, peanuts and more are heavily influenced by seed from SESE. I've met a couple folks from the company at seed swaps. It's a great company to do business with.
 
Mary Cook
Posts: 121
Location: rural West Virginia
31
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I like this company because the business supports a commune, because their focus is geographically appropriate to my location (West Virginia), because they avoid hybrids AND offer seed saving equipment, and don't focus on things I consider gimmicky--including more-expensive organic seeds. It's important to me to garden organically and to buy organic produce but to me the percentage of a crop reflected in the initial seed is so tiny I really don't care. Also I like catalogs that don't pretend every variety is perfect in every way but instead give useful information comparing varieties so I can make a choice based on my circumstances and preferences. But two years ago I bought seed for orange peppers from them, along with other things. The seedlings became diseased and I wrote to inquire--got an initial reply agreeing that the same variety was causing disease in her own garden and wanting to test plants to see what disease it was. But then there was no follow up and later inquiries got no response at all. Eventually all my peppers got the disease; I didn't get much of a crop that year. As a result of this poor customer service I didn't make a SESE order at all last year. This year I think I will again; it's possible that whoever was responsible is gone. But I think I'll concentrate orders for the things i have disease problems with, tomatoes and peppers and chard, in more northern growers because the disease may come from the seeds. Generally I think seed growers from the same region will emphasize traits good for your garden, but with disease I think places that are either colder or dryer in the summer might make better seed sources.
 
Kim Goodwin
gardener
Posts: 615
Location: 4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
373
3
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I give this company 10 out of 10 acorns.

They have excellent variety and huge seed packets for the prices.  Being a co-op dedicated to open-pollinated seed is also a great plus.  Their easter egg radish mix have the best spring radishes I've ever tried.  Heat tolerant, bolt resistant, and delicious.
 
Mary Cook
Posts: 121
Location: rural West Virginia
31
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Reply to Kim: Yes, they give you a good bunch of seeds. Depending on the crop, that makes it a better deal than my other favorite company, Pinetree garden Seeds, which is not on the list. It depends on the crop, because Pinetree gives you small amounts for the lowest prices of anyone--so for zucchini, say, or something you only want a few of, it can be the best deal. But I plant a lot of carrots so I get those from SESE--so I don't have to buy new ones every year. I'm noticing now that many companies, even Jung's which I have ordered from a lot lately, are offering packets with 5 to 20 seeds on things like peppers and tomatoes, and for 4, 5. 6 bucks. I figure it's because COVID stimulated a lot more new gardeners (not as far as I can tell, unfortunately, around here) and so companies had trouble filling all orders--so they realized the solution is to give everyone a quarter of a packet, charge twice as much for it, fill all orders and enhance profits.
 
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https://permies.com/wiki/178360/permaculture-projects/Paid-Build-Permaculture-Paradise-Wheaton
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