By: Jessica Robinson
This past weekend, I asked my husband to take me and the kids to Wethersfield, Connecticut to visit Comstock Ferre. I’d been there as a kid and held fond memories in my head of our trips there with my parents. Each year, early in the spring we would head for a day trip to Comstock Ferre and purchase our seeds for the garden along with our tomato and pepper plants. It’s something that stuck with me and now I want to share this experience with our own children.
Comstock Ferre & Co. started as Wethersfield Seed Gardens in 1811. The company has changed hands a few times over the last 10 years or so. The Gettle family purchased the company a few years back and are now working to restore it to its original glory. Any gardener at heart will love this place! I was pleasantly surprised that time has not hardly touched it. It’s like I remember it as a kid…. Simplistic, rows of vintage wooden boxes filled with Heirloom packs of seeds, books on gardening and a few simple garden tools. Simple is the way I like it, not overdone and NOT commercialized. The Gettle family also owns a sister property, called Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
Jerre and Emilee Gettle have recently released an incredible book, The Heirloom Life Gardener. I cannot tell you how incredible this book is. For anyone who loves to garden or who wants to start living a different life, focused on eating healthy and organic. This is the book! I’m so intrigued by the way the book describes the difference between Heirloom seeds and Hybrids. You probably were not aware of the difference either. An Heirloom is a seed that is open-pollinated and can be saved from year to year. (or in many cases, generation to generation) It also comes back each time you plant those seeds you saved true to form. Hybrid seeds (which are mostly what you find in the big stores and even in garden stores) are seeds that have been genetically altered. Seeds are often sterile and will not germinate if you save seeds. Heirlooms also tend to taste better. Hybrids are bred for perfection of skin thickness, perfect shape and not necessarily taste and quality. There is quite the debate on this topic, but from what I’ve learned Heirloom is the way to go. Using Heirlooms help to preserve our history and plant vegetables that are extremely tasty. If we know where our food comes from and have a bit of control, we’ll likely live a much healthier life.