One of the great benefits of growing heirloom / open-pollinated seeds is that they come back “true-to-type”. In other words, if you save seeds from the mature plants of this year, when you plant them next year the resulting plants will produce fruits that taste like, look like, smell like their parent plant’s fruits. Hybrid plants do not have this feature. Hybrid plants will most often revert to a distorted version of one of their parent plants, and will not be the plant you so liked this year, that is if the seeds aren’t plain sterile. Alternatively, any resulting plants from seeds saved from a hybrid plant will not be very hardy or high yielding. Because of the ability to save heirloom/open-pollinated seeds, this creates more self-sufficiency, if not right now, at least for the future if need be, and many people who are concerned with the future of our nation or its economy see this as another great benefit to growing heirlooms. While there is nothing wrong with buying hybrids, or supporting seed growers by continuing to buy seeds, it gives great peace of mind knowing that if you NEED to save seeds and provide for your future you CAN.
Beyond the self-sufficiency aspects of heirloom/open-pollinated seeds, there are other benefits that yearly draw many to loving heirlooms. One the main things people love about heirlooms is their FLAVOR. Hybrids have been bred for many specific traits, including uniformity, traveling well to market(tough rinds, skins, etc.), early production, etc. Along the path of breeding for traits such as these, so much of the delicious flavor known in the past has been lost. Another feature well loved by those who grow heirlooms is the variety, just take a look at the hundreds of heirloom tomatoes out there for example!
Another great feature of heirlooms is the consistent characteristics many have worked to develop into these varieties. The seeds are not passed on from generation to generation without good reason. The favorite varieties passed down for years are favorites because they have excellent traits: great taste, high yields, withstanding adverse conditions, etc.
Don’t forget the value of high nutrient content! Heirlooms have been proven to contain higher nutrients than the newer varieties bred today, and in a time where so many foods are lacking the vitamins and minerals our bodies need, what could help more than growing your own veggies and fruits, giving your family the best nutrition you can. You know where they came from, what was used in growing them, and that they have high nutritional value!
One last worthy reason to grow and save heirloom/open-pollinated seeds is to protect bio-diversity. Growing and saving these varieties helps preserve not only a piece of history, but more importantly a great piece of creation. Once the variety is gone, we can’t get it back. Having greater seed variety available also helps prevent issues like those which happened in the great Irish Potato Famine, when the majority of the potatoes planted were of the same favorite variety and all succumbed to the disease that spread through the land destroying crops and the main staple of the nation. When you plant diverse crops, you enhance the chance of withstanding pests and diseases.