Advertisements for heirloom or open-pollinated seeds for sale are everywhere. But what do the terms actually mean? An heirloom variety is an open pollinated stabilized cross. In other words, years ago a cross was made that produced a valuable crop. After years of selecting for desired traits from this new original cross, the seeds are typically then passed down from one generation to another. This stabilized cross, having remained important enough to be preserved, is typically classified as an “heirloom variety”. So an heirloom variety is nothing more than an open pollinated variety that had enough significance to be preserved. Which makes for a lot of grey area in classification. There are many varieties that are considered heirloom by some, and not by others. Though not all “open pollinated” seeds are “heirloom”, we often use “open pollinated” to describe many heirloom types in order to increase accuracy and transparency. Buying and growing these important varieties helps to preserve their genetics for future generations to enjoy.