Last week, when we up in Sonoma for some work meetings, we got a strange recommendation during an end-of-the-day happy hour:
“You have GOT to check out the Seed Bank in Petaluma!”
I’ve never been on Family Feud, but if I were, and if whoever hosts it these days requested that I name one of the top five must-see sights of California wine country, I would certainly not say “Visit the Petaluma Seed Bank, sir!”
But, it turns out, we were not at all led astray by that friendly, slightly bewildering recommendation. The Petaluma Seed Bank was established in 2009 as western outpost for the Missouri-based botanical behemoth, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Set in the historic Sonoma County Bank building—built in the 1920s—the Seed Bank is nothing short of impressive, be your thumb green or not. Acting as both a retail store and a kind of archival repository for obscure + nuanced flora, the massive depth of their seed collection matches the interior of the vast, high-ceilinged building.
The call the Bank “a beacon for gardeners, foodies, shoppers, and tourists alike.” They continue on their site—”We offer over 1,500 varieties of heirloom seeds, garlic, tools, books, and hundreds of local hand-made gifts and food items. Remember—everything we offer is pure, natural, and non-GMO!” Writing that out now I realized I somehow missed the heirloom garlic. I have no idea what heirloom garlic is…BUT I WANT IT.
Pair that enthusiasm for heirloom seeds with the “did I just step onto the set of Frontier House“, homemade garb of company founders and store workers, and…I have no idea what you get, but it’s excitingly weird. In a great way. As long as they don’t sit me down to talk about ‘the great lord’s bounty’ or anything.
You can read Christine Muhlke’s 2010 New York Times article to find out more about Baker Creek and the quelling of that writer’s curiosity on the company.
Visit the Petaluma Seed Bank for all your seed-buying needs next time you’re in the area, located smack in the middle of historic downtown at 199 Petaluma Blvd. It really is worth the trip. You can shop Baker Creek’s online store as well.