There are still remnants of the elegant bank that opened its corner doors in the 1920s. The marble floors. The railings, still gold but tarnished after decades of fingers gripping the cool metal. The tall, tall, rounded windows with watermelons and peppers painted on them. A vault keeps precious seeds instead of piles of paper bills.
My aunt and I drove to Petaluma on a rainy Sunday to spend the morning exploring the aisles of the Petaluma Seed Bank. We’re getting ready to build raised beds and get our fingers dirty in the soil in preparation for a summer garden. But as the food world talks about genetically altered foods, how they’re likely harmful in ways we can’t fully understand yet and how giant seed/food bully Monsanto is vying for world control, we’ve been overwhelmed by the information. We’ve been trying to read ourselves and find out more, listening to facts and not just all the conspiracies. It’s quite a giant topic, one that is not going to be learned all at once. But we’ve decided to go the heirloom route this year, to see how the varieties taste and make us feel and see where to go from there.
The seed bank sells 1,600 varieties of fruit, vegetable and herb seeds, and one of the largest selections of seeds from the 19th century.
I’m excited to see how the garden grows this year. I’ll keep you updated on the herbs, potatoes and, my favorite, the tomatoes.