Our Story ~ Gardening with Heirlooms

Gardening with heirloom seeds has been my passion ever since I can remember. It's in my bloodline. My granddaddy, Luther Carpenter, planted and picked the cotton fields with Uncle Shorty in south Alabama until he and my Grandma, Lula McCrain Carpenter, moved to Central Florida where he managed Chicone Groves until he retired. He also grew rye grain just for making shine.

My earliest (and fondest) memories were passing time playing in doodle bug funnels while Granddaddy and my Daddy, Roy Carpenter, hoed long rows of sugar cane. The whole family came at harvest time and helped chop that cane with machetes. Then they would take turns pushing the grinder in a never ending circle until all that sweet, green cane juice was either bottled to sample or sell with the largest part poured into the outside syrup cooker, wood fired and carefully stirred with a wooden boat paddle until it was thick and golden brown.

Daddy also grew a huge family garden each year with rows and rows of field peas, usually Zipper Cream or Pink Eye Purple Hull and hills of watermelon vines.

My Mama, Dorothy Keith Carpenter, owned a landscaping nursery and a huge worm bed and at a very young age I was potting plant rootings into recycled oil cans (remember when oil cans were round and cardboard?).

I went on to open my own nursery, Sanctuary Native Plants, in the beautiful Nantahala mountains near Hayesville, NC. Thats an absolutely wonderful business because EVERYONE leaves  smiling with a trunk load of plants and dreams of what they will grow for their own enjoyment.

I can remember only 4 or 5 seasons that I didn't put in my vegetable garden each year...nurturing those plants and patiently waiting for that first mouthful of home grown, vine ripened tomatoes.

I went on to learn about growing Shiitake mushrooms in logs, plant tissue culture and saving seed. My best days were spent on my knees in the garden all day...tending plants and watering.

So what does a disabled farmer do when they can't get in the dirt anymore? They teach young gardeners and farmers and pass on their knowledge and experience to anyone who will listen and learn, and try to preserve the old ways of saving seed and selling the heirloom and open pollinated seed to you so that your family will have seed to save and pass along to your children and their children.

That is true food security and you, in turn, are passing on a legacy of healthy eating, and a love for fresh air, sunshine and growing food to those generations after you. There is nothing better than watching the faces of those children you love pulling up the first radishes they grew themselves!

Thats why I'm here with you now. To share my knowledge and joy of gardening with you and knowing the contentment, joy and pride you will have when you come to your neighbor or friends with a handful of delicious tomatoes, green onions & basil for their supper that you grew yourself. I will provide the best and freshest, farmer tested open pollinated and heirloom seed I can find for your garden.

I hope you join me on this adventure and find out which heirloom tomato you really love the best!

Kind regards,

Mary Janis

HSS Mission

It's Heirloom Seed Supply's (HSS) mission to perpetuate the planting of tried and true varieties of non-GMO, open pollinated and rare heirloom seeds.

    The market trends in commercial seed selection are geared toward shelf life, visual appeal, and uniformity by large seed corporations but HSS varieties have been selected by farmers and gardeners for their traits such as delicious flavor, natural pest and disease resistance, and adaptability to regional conditions of weather and soil type.

   HSS will provide farmers and gardeners with rare heirloom and open-pollinated seed varieties that can be used to develop characteristics to cope with today’s changing climate.

   Heirloom Seed Supply will encourage and promote heirloom seed to home grown gardeners, historical gardens, market farmers, school projects, community gardens and seed breeders. It is our pleasure to serve you and grow with you.


   If this is your first visit make sure you sign up to receive DIY projects, flash sales, and specials. You will receive a fresh pack of rare, heirloom tomato seeds for free when you place your  first order.

Happy gardening,

Mary Esta Janis