If you save seeds every year, you are participating in a 10,000 year tradition that has only been out of favor since the end of WWII. All societies and civilizations saved seed from year to year.
If you save seed you are slowing the extinction of thousands of varieties that have been handed down from one generation to another. Big seed companies have been buying up small regional seed specialists in a big way. Now, as of 2018, 3 multinational seed conglomerates (Bayer/Monsanto, Chem China/Syngenta, Corteva which is Dow and Dupont) control the vast majority of the world’s vegetable seed market and they are beginning to patent large groupings of genetic code. Typically a variety is dropped if it doesn’t sell well or turn a profit. Once a variety is dropped and it hasn’t been saved by individuals, that seed will die and our bridge to the past will die with it. As the climate changes, we will need more and more varieties, not fewer, representing a broad, deep gene pool.
If you save seed every year, you are completing the garden cycle in your own garden – starting from seed and moving all the way through the cycle to the production of new seed. Plants are only interested in one thing and that is to make sure that their lineage survives for another generation. If you don’t let plants go to seed you are depriving them of the one experience they live for.
If you save seeds every year you are taking advantage of one of the most important characteristics of seeds. Seeds adapt to their growing environment and climate. If a seed is grown in Vermont or Africa or South America, it is likely that those growing conditions could have been markedly different than what you experience in your garden. If you save seed from year to year selecting from the most healthy and vigorous plants, after about three years, your seed will have adapted. This may be extremely important as we respond to climate change.
Most importantly, saving seed keeps our genetic heritage alive and available for future plantings and future generations.