Author Ellen Vande Visse

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Finding SEEDS for Alaska

Seeds- how to choose?
There are lots of choices. Ask yourself,
What quantity of seeds do I need—a few pots or large garden?
Are there specific varieties that I want?
Do I need some seeds before seed racks are available—such as onion, lobelia, celery?

Seeds—Where to Find?

  • Local seed racks: grocery store and garden center seed racks, Alaska Mill & Feed seed racks. Racks include flowers, vegetables, & herbs.
  • Seed swaps
  • Seed Company Catalogs & their on-line ordering systems.
  • Advantage from seed racks in stores:

  • You get a general selection, with the most common, popular seeds.
  • Buy immediately, without ordering and waiting.
  • The racks also offer varieties that will not necessarily do that well here, since the national stocking of seeds in grocery store chains is done in some distant national office and not focused on Alaska conditions.
  • Advantage from ordering from catalogs:

  • You can study a catalog and you usually find excellent descriptions.
  • They offer many more varieties than seed racks.
  • Catalogs are full of educational information.
  • You get exactly what you want, including the economy of bulk quantities.
  • Postage is just part of it, starting around $5-8 for an envelope full of seed packets.
    Seeds are light weight. Shipping is cheap compared to buying starts (seedlings in pots) and to purchasing full-grown vegetables or flowers in a store.
  • What happened to Denali Seed Co?
    They are still alive, but under the name , and only on-line. The seed is not grown in Alaska, but their varieties have proven to do well in Alaska. BestCoolSeeds ships your order extremely quickly! Formerly Denali Seed Co.

    Alaska Mill & Feed in Anchorage carries seeds from 6 or so different seed companies. This includes Renee’s Garden Seed, Lake Valley, Ed Hume Seeds, Territorial, and maybe others.

    Foundroot Seeds, Sundries, & Sustenance is located in Haines. They specialize in cold-tolerant, fast growing, frost resistant, and extra rugged 100% open-pollinated seeds. Mail-order through

    Alaska Plant Materials Center near Palmer. These folks, under the auspices of AK Division of Agriculture, offer seed potato varieties, plus seed for revegetation, grasses, wildflowers, native trees and shrubs. Contact them through
    Plant Materials Center (PMC), Butte area of Palmer AK

    How do you know your seed is not genetically modified (GMO)?
    Look for the Safe Seed Pledge

    Johnny’s Selected Seeds was one of the original signers of the Safe Seed Pledge in 1999. We present the Safe Seed Pledge, as follows:

    “Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners, and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically- engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families, or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing are necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically-engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and, ultimately, people and communities.”

    Seed companies like Johnny’s Selected Seeds invites organizations, governments, businesses, and individuals to join in support of the Safe Seed

    For more information you may contact The
    Council for Responsible Genetics, the sponsor of the Safe Seed Initiative.

    “Our Quality Assurance team will not release any seed for sale that does not meet our strict requirements.”

    Also look for this:
    Open Seed Source Initiative Read about it at

    Some of my favorite seed catalogs: Territorial, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Bountiful Gardens (John Jeavons), Nichols Garden Nursery, Best Cool Seeds, Fedco, Seeds of Change, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.