Seeds from Italy offers kitchen and garden gear, 500 varieties of heirloom Italian vegetables, flowers and herbs.
Started in 2001 by Bill McKay, Seeds from Italy was born because McKay couldn't find the Italian vegetable varieties he wanted to grow.
By luck, he happened upon Franchi Seeds, Italy's oldest family-owned seed company, which offers an extensive selection of traditional Italian varieties. Franchi didn't have an agent in the U.S., so Bill started importing the seeds and reselling them.
In 2011, Bill sold the business to Dan Nagengast, a long-time market gardener in Lawrence, Kansas. In addition to growing vegetables and flowers for local markets, Dan was director of the Kansas Rural Center, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable agriculture and family farms. The Lawrence Journal World wrote about Dan taking over the business and posted a video interview that you can watch here.
Dan is married to Lynn Byczynski, the founder of Growing for Market, a national periodical for market farmers, and the author of several farming and gardening books, including The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers. The couple's adult children, Will and Laurel, also work in the business.
With all that said, the reason I buy from this company is because the packages of seed are large enough to share, the germination rate is the best I've found and the varieties are terrific.
For example, a pack of long, Italian, cucumbers (Lungo Verde Ortolani) is $3.50 for 150 seeds. The thin-skin Mideastern cucumber (Beth Alpha) is also 150 seeds for $3.50.
I bought their leek seeds one year and they were quite productive. Each year I left two plants to go to flower and those seeds gave us five years of leeks for the kitchen.
The vegetable names are in Italian and English, the online catalog is searchable and there is plenty of growing advice. Just go to http://www.growitalian.com/2018-catalog/ and browse around. It's a delightful experience.
I always request a print catalog to savor with hot tea while deciding which repeat selections I'll get and what I'll add to my order to experiment with.
New this year, they are offering purple carrot, Marvel of Italy pea, trio of bush beans - go check them out.