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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Nature’s Crossroads Wants To Be Your Local Seed Source

This Indiana company offers locally produced seeds to folks who want to make every aspect of their garden organic, earth-friendly, and local.

watermelons on a tractor on a farm

Photo: LIFE Certified Organic Farms

Along with their partner farm LIFE Certified Organic, Nature's Crossroads grows local and organic seeds. They have many varieties of watermelons, including crimson sweet, sugar baby, and morning star.

Local Down To The Seeds

Every garden starts with seeds. For folks who are interested in local living, it only makes sense that you’d seek out seeds that were grown locally as well.

Art Sherwood of Nature’s Crossroads Seed Company is here to help. Sure, he wants to be your local seed man, but for him, it’s more about recruiting new gardeners. “If you have to buy your seeds from Wal-Mart, go buy them from Wal-Mart. Whatever. Don’t let ideology get in the way of growing great plants in your backyard. Better than lawns.”

Nature’s Crossroads partners with LIFE Certified Organic Farms to grow organic and earth-friendly. This means using all-natural pesticides and fertilizers, and their seeds have absolutely no genetic-modification. Their goal is to have 70 percent of their seeds be local in seven years. They are at 40 percent after three years, so they’re right on track.

Adapted For Zone 5

The seeds are adapted specifically for the growing conditions found in Zone 5. Sherwood and his team take the strongest seeds from every harvest and plant those next season. As a result, the seeds produce heartier plants that give more food the following year.

For example, we have a Midwest adapted kale. First year, we grew it, it was a foot tall. Second year it was two feet tall. And then we saved the seeds again and now it goes up to three feet tall.

He recommends various lettuce plants like kale for first-time gardeners because they grow easily and will produce a fall crop as well.

In producing the seeds, Nature’s Crossroads tries to mimic what happens in nature, where a tomato falls to the ground and grows fungus. They perform this icky process in a vat, clean up the seeds, and then run germination tests. For plants like kale and spinach, they allow it to bolt and grow flowers. They pull the seeds out of the pods that are produced.

Purple Calabash Tomato

Photo: Nature's Crossroads

Nature's Crossroads sell some 40 different varieties of tomato seeds, including this Purple Calabash Tomato.

Tomatoes Galore

Their signature plant is the Trusty Tomato. Sherwood tells the story when he and fellow Nature’s Crossroads founder Jeff Evard met the man behind the fruit. “Mr Trusty came up to us and said, ‘Would you boys be interested in some seeds I’ve been growing? I got them from my dad, he got them from his dad, and who knows how far back.’ We said, ‘Sure!’”

The seeds ended up producing large tomatoes with a “hearty beefsteak flavor.”

“A few months later he passed away. So, we had this gem that we then called the Trusty Tomato, named after him.”

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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