These are the seeds that mankind has used for all of his history, and continues to use.
The “open” means pollinated by traditional methods — wind, water and bugs — rather than deliberately in a controlled environment by hand, one plant at a time, as is the case with hybrids.
While they may not have the look, uniformity, high yields or general vigour that hybrid plants have, some people feel that plants from open-pollinated seed still have better flavour. Selections from each successive generation can be done based on how well particular plants from that crop flourish and produce in the climate in a particular region, and thus sub-varieties emerge.
Not many new Open Pollinated varieties are being produced. Because the seed from a crop can be saved and re-used for free, without going back to the supplier for next year’s seed, there is no money for the supplier to re-invest in further development.
The plants will grow true to seed.
Many people prefer Open Pollinated Seed as a “political act” against large profit-making companies selling PVP or hybrid seed. Ironically, much of the encouragement to buy Open Pollinated Seed comes from companies selling Open Pollinated Seeds — for profit.