What are heirloom seeds and what are the benefits of using them in your garden?

When starting our gardens, one of the first purchases we make is seeds. We may not think twice about where we source our seeds from, but it’s actually one of the most important decisions we make for our gardens and planet.

Like many things, seeds have been exploited by modern farming practices for decades. The goal for conventional growers has been to produce and modify seeds that turn into a crop that is pest- and disease-resistant, can be shipped long distances without spoiling, and are hardy for the handling processes. Of course, they’re trying to produce the best of the best, but there are many disadvantages to hybrid seeds.

Hybrid seeds are artificially created by crossing two or more varieties of a certain plant. The biggest disadvantage is that you can’t save the seed—as in, it produces fruit for that year, and then goes dry. This is designed so that you buy more seeds year after year. Another downfall is that even though these crops are resistant to pests or diseases, they’re often not chosen for their taste.

Enter Heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, which means they will produce plants roughly identical to their parents and you can use them year after year. Choosing heirloom seeds connects you to generations of growers and farmers, and also exposes you to some really neat varieties like blue potatoes, purple carrots and deep black tomatoes. Fruits and vegetables used to be so diverse in colour, shape and flavour, which means they also used to be diverse in nutrients.

We’ve lost a lot of our heirloom seeds due to modern seed farming, but there’s still hope. There are some amazing Canadian companies that are actively working on preserving genetic biodiversity and saving our rare plant varieties. You can be part of the heirloom community too and continue the legacy in your own garden. This list is broken up into provinces so that you can choose seeds that will be most compatible with your growing zone, area and climate.seedingPhoto by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash


  • The Seed Company: High-quality vegetables, herbs, and flower seeds (some heirloom available)


  • PEI Seed Alliance: Grown by small sustainable farmers, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds
  • Eureka Garlic: Seed garlic grown with no chemicals. Can be reached at (902) 836-5180
  • Vesseys: Not exclusively organic, but have organic and heirloom varieties available

Nova Scotia

  • Annapolis Seeds: Rare and diverse organic and heirloom seeds, maintaining Maritime bioregion
  • La Finquita: Cold hardy greens, herbs, wild edibles
  • The Incredible Seed Company: Open-pollinated vegetables, herbs, flowers, tree seeds and more
  • Hope Seeds: Non-GMO, untreated, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds
  • Revival Seeds: Organically-grown, open-pollinated vegetable and flower varieties

New Brunswick






British Columbia