Casey and the Collards
“The collard greens told me I could do it.” That’s how Casey O’Leary was first inspired to begin saving seeds. She was lying down in a garden bed, and it all started with a heart-to-heart conversation with her plants. Casey has been farming for 12 years, so she knows the value in listening to the wisdom of a plant. This is evident when we spend an afternoon with Casey and her seeds.
On a chilly afternoon in late winter, we paid a visit to the snow-covered Earthly Delights Farm. On this three acre farm is where Casey grows 50% of the seeds for Snake River Seeds. 17 Idaho farmers grow the other half of Snake River’s Seeds. When Casey started the operation three years ago, she was growing 10 varieties of seeds; these days, Snake River Seeds offers upwards of 258 varieties of seeds. (photo of seed vault and caption)
Why Local Seeds?
According to Casey, 25-50% of every seed packet sold goes directly back to the farmers who grew that seed, meaning growers earn anywhere from 2 to 10 times more money growing seeds for a small seed cooperative like Snake River than they would for a larger seed company. Many seed companies source seeds from all over the world, meaning the seeds might be optimized to grow in Alabama or even China! All Snake River Seeds are grown in Idaho, so they are well-adapted to the climate. In short: Seeds that are grown in Idaho thrive in Idaho. It sounds simple, but we don’t often realize that many seed companies are sourcing seeds from as far away as Vermont!
All Snake River Seeds are non-GMO and open-pollinated (which means you can save your own seeds from the plants you grow). They are not certified organic, since not all of the growers have organic certification. However, Casey knows the growers and they all use organic practices, so you can rest assured that these seeds are clean. Additionally, their germination rates are well above USDA requirements.
Snake River Seeds Snapshot
- Casey has been farming for 12 years and started Snake River Seeds 3 years ago.
- Offers 258 seed varieties, from amaranth to zucchini
- Snake River Seeds sold over 25,000 seed packets in 2016!
- Seeds available in both Boise Co-op stores, and many other fine garden centers in the Treasure Valley
- Casey also offers a CSA program through Earthly Delights Farm
- Learn more about Snake River Seeds
Casey O’Leary is the proprietor of Snake River Seed Cooperative and Earthly Delights Farm. You can find her clever writing in some issues of Edible Idaho. Check out her article “A Midwinter Daydream” in the Spring 2017 issue.