A Bank for Rare Seeds in Petaluma by

Issue 42 · West Marin and Beyond · October 15, 2012

A Bank for Rare Seeds in Petaluma

Issue 42 · West Marin and Beyond · October 15, 2012

Perhaps you would like to grow an unusual custard squash in your vegetable garden? Or Klondike Blue Ribbon Striped Watermelon? Or Dixie Speckled Butterpea Lima Beans?

Or try any of the 1,200 other varieties of heirloom seeds for sale in a grand old bank building in Petaluma, the Northern California town that George Lucas considered iconic enough to serve as the backdrop for American Graffiti. At the Seed Bank, the West Coast outpost of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, tools and books and seed packets sit on the old marble counters where farmers once filled out deposit slips. Baker Creek, which started as a mail order seed catalog in 1998 sent by 17-year-old Jere Gettle, is on a mission to find and preserve rare seeds. Says Gettle: "I cannot believe the diversity of seeds that we are still discovering."

Above: Baker Creek, which sells only seeds pollinated by birds, insects, the wind, or other natural elements, has seeds from more than 70 countries. Image by Selket R. via Flickr.

Above: The Sonoma County National Bank building opened its doors for the first time in 1925. Image by Homegrowndotorg, via Flickr.

Above: Baker Creek also sells its seeds online at Rare Seeds. Image by Kamina Jamison, via Flickr.

Above: An assortment of different kinds of cow peas. Baker Creeks sells more than a dozen varieties, at prices ranging from $2 to $2.50 per packet. Image via Rare Seeds.

Above: Reminders of the bank building's past life remain. Image by Swedg via Flickr.

Above: Cream colored Crown of Thorns Gourds can be picked early and eaten in summer; left on the stem, they will achieve weights of a pound or more. A packet of 20 seeds is $2. Image by Homegrowndotorg via Flickr.

Above: Jam and local foods are also for sale. Image by Homegrowndotorg via Flickr.

Above: For instructions on how to save seeds from one year to the next, visit Rare Seeds. Image via Design Sponge. For equipment, see "Store Your Own Seeds."

(N.B.: This is an update of a post published on June 8, 2012.)

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