Heirloom seed varieties are also known as Heritage seeds. They are open pollinated seed varieties that have been grown and passed down through families, or communities such as Mennonites, First Nations and other ethnic groups. Commercial Heirloom varieties from early seed companies have also been saved and passed down. There is a greater diversity of colour, taste, and other variations with open pollinated fruits and vegetables, as opposed to a limited selection from hybrid or GMO varieties that are commercially available today.
Open Pollinated seeds will produce plants that have the same characteristics as the original parent plants from long ago. This allows seeds to be kept from year to year knowing what to expect. This is not true of hybrid and GMO plant varieties. Open Pollinated varieties are genetically diverse which allow for adaption to various climates and growing seasons.