The Rise of Heirloom Seeds

Alan ‘Mushroom’ & Linda Kapuler

Peace Seeds
Alan and Linda Kapuler
Together, Alan and Linda have donated almost 140 varieties of heirloom seeds to Seed Savers Exchange.
Together, Alan and Linda have donated almost 140 varieties of heirloom seeds to Seed Savers Exchange.
Alan threshing
Alan Kapuler threshes evening primrose seeds in the yard of his Corvallis, Oregon home.

In the 1960s, Alan Kapuler embraced counterculture and moved to a commune in southern Oregon. It was there, hoping to help provide for the group, that Alan first began to garden and sell seeds. “We didn’t know anything about business, we didn’t know anything about saving seeds, and we knew nothing about gardening,” he recalls. Many things have changed for Alan since then, including the fact that he is now widely considered to be an expert in the field of plant breeding. Alan has spent the last 40 years collecting unique seeds, researching amino acid contents in tomatoes, and breeding nutritionally diverse varieties, all in the name of promoting better health.

Alan Kapuler threshes evening primrose seeds in the yard of his Corvallis, Oregon home.

Although they didn’t have much money to spare in the early days, Alan and his wife Linda recognized the importance of preserving heirloom seeds. In 1981, they invested $100 to become Seed Savers Exchange lifetime members. The next year, the dynamic team joined forces with their friend Alan Venet to start what would later become Peace Seeds. Their seed catalogs have always focused on a wide variety of open-pollinated seeds including include rare heirloom varieties along with Peace Seeds originals.

Kapuler garden
Alan and Linda have been gardening on the same plot of land in Corvallis, Oregon for almost 40 years. Here, ‘La Ribera’ marigolds are grown for Peace Seedlings, an offshoot of Peace Seeds cofounded by Alan and Linda’s daughter, Dylana. Photo courtesy of Peace Seedlings.
Alan and Linda have been gardening on the same plot of land in Corvallis, Oregon for almost 40 years. Here, ‘La Ribera’ marigolds are grown for Peace Seedlings, an offshoot of Peace Seeds cofounded by Alan and Linda’s daughter, Dylana. Photo courtesy of Peace Seedlings.
Rainbow Inca Sweet corn
Alan first bred ‘Rainbow Inca Sweet’ corn in hopes of improving eye health.

Alan first started breeding ‘Rainbow Inca’ sweet corn when he realized the health potential in breeding multi-colored vegetables. “I knew that the yellow (in the corn kernels) was zeaxanthin or lutein, which were two Carotenoid pigments that go to protect our eyes from photo-damage as we get older… [and] that purple color is anthocyanin-3 glucoside—that’s a free radical trap, so if you eat that corn it improves your health!”

Alan first bred ‘Rainbow Inca Sweet’ corn in hopes of improving eye health.