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Made in Idaho: Snake River Seed Cooperative helps Idaho gardens grow bigger and better

Posted: 10:55 AM, Sep 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-06 12:55:21-04
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Tucked away in North Boise, Earthly Delights Farm is hard at work. It's where Casey O'Leary grows seeds for the Snake River Seed Cooperative .

Five years ago O'Leary started the co-op and today, she's one of more than 30 farmers in the group contributing locally adapted seeds.

Seeds of more than 300 plant varieties are packaged at Snake River Seed headquarters, then sold at independent businesses for Idaho gardeners to enjoy.

"There's a lot, and that's everything from a huge assortment of vegetables to different flowers. We do a lot with native plants and native flowers to support local ecosystems and pollinators," O'Leary explained.

The environmental activist is trying to create a local food movement. She says you'll have a much more successful garden if you use seeds that were grown in your same area. But, the seed growing process can be an adjustment for most farmers, leaving perfect produce on the vine a bit longer until the seeds are ripe.

"One of the biggest shifts you have to make in growing seed versus being a gardener or farmer, is you want to eat the best thing you have. But as a seed saver, you want to let the best thing you have go to seed, and eat the things that are not quite as good. That way your seed keeps getting better every year," O'Leary said.

O'Leary says it took some recruitment to get farmers involved at first.

"I kind of had to cajole a lot of farmers, because you know a lot of vegetable production farmers, there's a way you do this. You grow onions, you grow onions, and that's what you do. You pull them out, you take them to the farmers market, that's what you do. To get them to say, 'okay I'll leave this onion in the ground for a whole extra year and get seed off of it,' is a huge change. But, if we don't have local seeds, we don't have a local food system," O'Leary said.

Farmers from all over Idaho and the Intermountain West, both large and small, are now a part of the Snake River Seed Co-op, sending their seeds to Boise.

"We weigh them, we germ test them, we send them a check, and then we sit there and packet them. So in our little seed shack we fill 60,000 to 70,000 packets with little teaspoons, it's nuts," laughed O'Leary.

With every Made in Idaho seed bought and planted comes happy farmers and gardeners.

"You're supporting a local economy, you're supporting local business, you're supporting local pollinators, you're supporting all these really cool things that we're doing, and also you're getting seeds that are going to do way better in your garden. We always say they're grown and packed with love and it's true," O'Leary said.

O'Leary comes up with the unique names for each type of seed, and the eye catching packets will bring a smile to your face. Look for them at garden stores in your area. You can find Snake River Seeds online on Facebook and Instagram , and order seeds through their website .