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Can someone give me the low down on belonging to the Seed Saver's Exchange? Is it worth it? I'm not talking about the value of what they do, it's certainly important, but about much use you get out of it as an individual. Any opinions welcome!

Jennifer
 

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If you are asking if you are going to get $35 worth of good from it, the answer is a big NO! Right now is the first time that being a member has any monetary advantage as members now get 10% off any order in the public catalog. But with every packet costing at least $2.75, 10% off is still way above the industry average. That discount applies only to the catalog of Decorah store, not for a number of SSE outlets within convenient driving distance for me.

There used to be an advantage in being able to obtain old uncommon or discontinued varieties by purchasing them from individual growers. At $3 for a regular member, again it's no bargain. For a great percentage of the varieties listed, the SSE Yearbook was often the only source 15-20 years ago. The Internet age now has virtually everything available from small specialty companies. The Internet has allowed many little companies to grow and sell such varieties without having the expense of producing a paper catalog.

Some think that they will pay the membership fee, grow some scarce plants, offer seeds, and reap great profits. My first listing were for 12 tomato varieties which had never been offered at any time during the existence of SSE. I think that the total return as $26 and $10 of that was from SSE to have them for their seed bank. Three varieties had no requests. This past year, I offered 126 varieties and took in about $60. A third of that came from 2 HT members who are also SSE members and insisted on paying according to SSE rules rather than taking advantage of my annual free offer.

If you itemize deductions for taxes, the membership fees should be deductible since it's supposed to be a non-profit organization. That causes me some wonder since recent large mailings from them have been 42¢ First Class postage when it should have been at a reduced rate. But when there was enough money to offer the founder $240,000 to leave quietly, a few thousand dollars more for postage is nothing! (He left but refused to accept the bribe.)

Martin
 

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I have been a paid member the last 3 years. I haven't received any mailings since the yearbook and no membership renewal notice so not sure after I expressed my opposition to the way the ex director was forced out if I will be allowed to renew. Been going to go to the site and see if I can. I did tell them there was no need to send anymore mailings with over the top articles by radicals way out is left field to me. I have been involved in agriculture for most of my life and know what is going on here in this area. So far here there hasn't been many GMO's. Some soybeans but other than that none that I know of. And know of some that has been tested as some producers test the grain they use so they can advertise the beef and pork they sell as fed with non GMO grain. Like Martin stated there is no real advantage to it anymore. You can find most if not all the seeds you would want from members of forums. Or buy them online as cheap or cheaper. Like the garlic I bought from We Grow Garlic. I felt maybe I was helping in a small way. But don't trust Amy and her motives so if I can't renew no big loss. And the SSE forum site was ran and may still be by mostly TV moderators. To join or not is a personal decision. I've found a few other seed saving projects I plant to help some.
 

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Glowing in The Sun
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I have been a SSE member for 8 years, I've been saving heirlooms and breeding varieties for about 12 years. I am a listed member like Martin was/is, and I make decent pin money off my seeds, mainly from my Blue Jade dwarf sweet corn which is very hard to come by. But money isn't the reason I do it. Some of these varieties are still very rare. Some of them, including some I have, are only offered by one lone person keeping them alive and available. I find buying SSE yearbook seeds economical because the price includes postage and handling. And I am one of the 2 HTers who paid Martin SSE prices for his free seeds last year.

I am lucky to live just half an hour from Heritage Farm now, and I was the first person to sign up for the April apple grafting class with heirloom scions from the Heritage Farm Orchard. I don't like what Amy did to the SSE founder, but we don't know her side of the story, and SSE membership has gone way up this year, so she must be doing some good for seeds.

I don't care what Amy and the Board of Directors do, I care about the seeds, and this "club" is the best way to get them out into people's hands. I still buy seeds from other companies, but I also buy from the yearbook each time.

What you get out of membership depends on the reasons you join. I feel it's worth it, and I like getting the 4 publications a year. I learn about lots of things in the publications, especially historical stuff.

YMMV.
 

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I'm one who paid the Martin the SSE prices also. Martin's advice he so freely shares is worth the price. I frequent many forums and appreciate all the advice and friendly people but Martin is the best in my opinion. Jay
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the input.

The $35 seemed pretty steep to me for what was being offered, so I wondered what others thought of the worth of it. To be honest, I had a hard time getting any good idea of the value of it from either their public catalog or their website. It's almost like they didn't think it the membership was worth talking about. In other words, they were doing good work and you should subscribe to them for that reason alone. Which could very well be true if you have extra money to donate to causes.

Anyway, thanks for the opinions on it.

Jennifer
 

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Jennifer that is pretty much the feeling I've had myself especially since the Amy is basically running it. Like I've stated I've found a couple of other seed saving organizations I consider worthy and very appreciative of the help. I joined mainly because I like what Kent was doing and when he was there it was better run in my book. Now it is ran to the benefit of Amy with no regard to members. Like you said if you have money you don't know what to do with it is a good hole to throw it in. If you want some assurance what you are spending is going to seed saving and also the best interest of the members then maybe not. Like I said there are other options out there. Just do a Google search.
I agree that there is a big difference in the availability of peppers, corn and some other items like corn. We have a famlly friend who used to list lots of rare corn. His health is failing and he only listed one last year.
So as stated before it is a decision each gardener has to make. I will probably rejoin if I can as I like to support a few of the growers who list seeds. I've had many tell me that their seed sales have fell bad and some didn't receive any requests the last two years. Jay
 

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I've been a member of SSE for 25 or more years, and the last couple of years I have hesitated when renewing my membership. I will probably do it again (or maybe I already did--would have to look in the checkbook to see), but just in the last few days I also got a letter from them looking for more donations to repair flood damage at the Decorah farm. I would really like to see their financial details, include salaries of the staff, to help me decide if they still deserve my support. I really do like to read through the yearbook, though, and see what is available, read descriptions, and read what members have to say in their little bit in the state-by-state listings of members.
 

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lifetime member here i do think it is worth the joining fee for new members because u will not find some of the varieties anywhere else and there is no where else u will have a chance to have contact with so many people who will give you new ways of looking at your gardening ,i do have some reservations about the poitics that have been going on at heritage farm but many of the advisers that i have personaly met and trust are still involved sse has grown to a very very larg entity in comparison to its beginings . i dont think you will regret joining
 

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Mountaineers are free
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I buy seeds from them, but due to posts like this about politics and such I have refrained from becoming a member. Unless you are heirlooming as a hobby and just have to have that one seed no one else has, you can do well buying your seed from heirloomseeds.com
 

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At the old farm I used their seeds and wasn't impressed.

Ended up using places like Territorial seed company. Am impressed with the quality of their Veggie seeds.
 

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At the old farm I used their seeds and wasn't impressed.
One early pitch by Kent Whealey was the number of varieties which were no longer handled by major seed companies or entirely gone. For the majority of them, their demise was well-founded. They more than likely didn't impress many gardeners when they were still around!

Martin
 

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.

...This past year, I offered 126 varieties and took in about $60...
Martin, I don't suppose you grow the "Sheboygan" tomato? I live about 500 yards from the Sheboygan County line and have been unable to find this variety. If you or someone you know has this tmoato available, I'd love to hear about it.

I would be willing to pay cash, or I also have some interesting tomato seeds ,from a friend in Pittsburgh whose family has been saving seeds for decades, to trade.


Thank you!
 

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I don't have any Sheboygan seeds but there are 2 other SSE members who did in 2008. In another 3 weeks or so, we'll know if it's listed for 2009. Perhaps I will suddenly have an urge to plant that variety and order it. Of course, I will have no need for all of that I receive and may accidentally send the remainder to someone else. Definitely couldn't divide a packet on purpose of I'd face permanent banishment from SSE!

Martin
 

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Haha! I took a look at their website and they have it listed as available, I think I'll go ahead and buy them.

If you would like a sample of Sheboygan seeds for testing purposes, I'll send you some, just don't tell the SSE police!
 

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That's the one. It's a new item in the SSE 2009 public catalog. I thought that Marianne Jones of www.mariseeds.com would have them for public sale but not on her site. If I have to buy them, that's who I'll get them from since she is one of the two who lists them in the SSE Yearbook.

Martin
 

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I just listed first time last year. Had no takers. But, I see some interesting things that I couldnt find on my own. And being listed, I can request more items than if I wasnt. I also like that SSE has Heritage Farm where they grow out some crops themselves.

A few other garden seed companies/organizations have other work that they do- Baker Creek has their farm days, Bountiful Gardens teaches, SSE has apple grafting and tomato tastings. (I just wish any of them were closer to me!)

I did go to a local tomato tasting hosted through another organization, and got some neat seeds from there.

Probably wont be profitable in seeds requested, at least not the first year.

I dont fully understand the politics of what happened to the Director. It sounds like it was a tough situation.
 
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