Sunday, January 3, 2010

hippychick ponders sustainable seeds

it is seed time and for many folk and this means paging through numerous seed catalogs. for many of us this is a time for dreaming. seed catalogs for gardening folk are easily the equal of the sears toy catalog for wee kiddos.

this year, i am on a mission...

i am going to make every effort to grow only from open pollinated planted seed this year. i will make every effort to avoid purchased starts. i will start every last plant myself. i will consider trading and/or bartering starts with like minded farm and garden folk. sound simple, it is not so simple.

lots can go wrong - plant too soon or too late and a whole crop could be lost to weather, hungry feeding bad bugs, disease or to conditions a plant may not be prepared to overcome in it's first generational go.

planting is tough, planting for some is a science. for me planting is built upon a leap of faith. i work from instinct a lot. i research and read a great deal but i do not treat extension suggestions or garden books as wrote bibles never to vear from - the climate here is central texas is too varied to do so.

a lot of what i've learned in the past 4+ years has been from my few successes
and surprising opps-es did not know that would work there, at this time of year, but more from my many many gardening failures.

i did not keep detailed records last year as well as i should have and the ole' memory ain't as sharp as she used to be. in order to save seed, i need to know exactly what the seed is. so for a number of goods, i need to start clean with open pollinated seed - no hybrids - nothing unknown - only open pollinated clean grown traceable seed.

there is good news - i do have record and saved seed from a good number of the goods currently growing and/or grown this past season. these seeds will stay in the mix.

i wonder if i will endure this goal set forth for myself - no purchased starts - none - it is a daunting goal. i wonder if placing here in print will keep me honest. i think not. i think the honesty is going to play out in my daily action and my determination toward a truly sustainable gardening existence. saving seeds is important to me. i imagine i will just have to make an endured effort to remind myself of the importance of saving one's own seed when "start" temptation strikes.

so when looking through seed catalogs, i ponder heritage
, i ponder bee friendliness, i ponder regional survival rates, i ponder heat, drought, disease and other local challenges the seed/plant may face, i ponder the growth and fruiting rates, i ponder space, soil, fertility and water, i ponder long-day, short-day needs and i ponder the types of food i hope to enjoy and to preserve in the years to come.

in the pondering of the above, i ponder seed companies, their goals, their beliefs and their practices. i am looking for informed folks with a great deal of integrity who run an honest and fair business. i ponder all this before falling in love with a particular bean or tomato or the perfect radish. i ponder sustainability.

* * * * * * * *

i bought my seeds today from the sustainable seed company. these folks are the real deal. if you are looking for open pollinated seeds, this is one place to check out. their goals are thoughtful and forward thinking. it is my pleasure to tip my business their way.

here's a bit about the dreams, goals and morals of the sustainable seed folk

We Feel Strongly About

Controlling our food source: You will find not only vegetable seed but many life-sustaining grain seeds. Why? We need to start choosing how and what we eat, not be dictated to by
corporate seed companies and their boardroom executives. We will continue to grow more of our own food and support others who do—and those foods can be grains, fruits, vegetables, and everything we need to live healthy lives. We will assist communities where people share goods, open-pollinated heirloom seeds, and services.

NO Printed Seed Catalog: We are only offering an on-line catalog. Catalog retailers send out 20 billion catalogs a year, and almost none of the paper contains any recycled content. Instead, over 8 million tons of trees a year go into catalogs alone—which means 8 million tons of trees are going from forests to the landfill, with a short appearance as junk mail in between. What does that mean?

1 ton of virgin printing paper for catalogs uses 24 trees. Now take the number above of 8 million tons used a year and you get 192,000,000 trees that are killed every year so you can thumb through a catalog!! That is roughly 640,000 acres of trees and forest ecosystems destroyed for JUST catalogs. How in good conscious could you or anyone participate in this behavior?

To put that into perspective, that is almost the entire state of Rhode Island being cut down every year for catalogs. These are not just trees, but entire ecosystems of living beings that are destroyed for catalogs. Our mission to green the planet, not de-green it. Not to destroy life, but to help create it. We will not be a part of this irresponsible behavior. Yes, we might lose some customers to this policy, but someone has to take the first step in making a change. We are NOT driven by the dollar but by our consciousness and the knowledge that human beings can do better in the world. Our company vows to leave the smallest footprint possible on this planet as possible. In fact we hope to green more than we take. We are after all a seed company!

Supporting pollinators: Pollinators all around the world have been disappearing at alarming numbers due in no small part to pesticides and ill effects of GMOs, another reason we use no chemicals in any part of our business. We maintain beehives in our fields because we care about what is happening to bees. We are beekeepers—we even run a free bee rescue service. How many other seed companies do you know with their own bees? Bees pollinate at least a third of our seed crop. Without them we would be doing a great deal of hand pollination to create heirloom seeds. We owe a great debt to the humble bee and other natural pollinators. We are constantly asking ourselves how we can be the best vegetable seed company and this is just one way we are doing that.

The Dream

We want to enrich people’s lives through community, and we want to build communities. Literally! There are many organic farmers in California who can no longer afford to feed their families or to buy land. We face the no-land problem ourselves, and so do many of our friends. During every gathering someone always says, "If we only had land…"

We want to give people a way to feed themselves and a source of income. Growing heirloom open-pollinated seed can do both.

We want to put land back in the hands of organic farmers. This is the reason we buy from individual seed growers. If we use the money we get from you to buy heirloom seeds from small American organic farmers, the money goes back to where it belongs. We do not buy "cheap" foreign seed like other seed companies.


We want to buy land to farm organically and put it into a nonprofit that would give several families a place to live and work. This is key to sustainable living. Their fuel consumption would drop substantially, and that savings would spread as other cottage industries are born on the land that would serve the great community around. For instance, one of our heirloom seed growers runs a CSA that feeds a large, extended community. She also sells her surplus to local restaurants, thus keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum. I'm sure we’ve all heard the figure now that most of our food travels an average of 1,500 miles!

We want to help the process of creating local heirloom seed banks in each community. If people are going to have the ability to feed themselves, they need genetically viable heirloom seed banks to draw from. We pledge to donate all year-end seed packages to seed banks, and as soon as we are able to “pay the bills” we intend to start doing far more. Watch our monthly newsletter to see how we are impacting communities with your support. If you are in Northern California, come volunteer to help start one of our many programs! Get involved—this is YOUR community.

We want to help educate people about heirloom seeds. We’ll support local organic programs that are already in place, and we would like to help produce weekend classes, booklets, and DVDs that make this information available to a wider audience. We want to create demonstration gardens that not only teach but feed.

There is so much to do. This business is merely a mechanism to help people start feeding themselves. It is an answer to such questions as “What do we do? How do we effect change in our community?” I’m not sure where this little seed company will lead us, but I hope it is to a more enriched life, one filled with the joy in children’s eyes as they harvest their first pumpkin, and the laughter echoing through the community kitchen as the first harvest is prepared to serve at the senior citizens center. The truth is that I will be able to give back some of the love and support I was so freely given. If this world needs anything right now, it is for all of us to step up and give back. This next decade will be a hard one for the world. A seed is hope. It contains the possibility of a new life and great abundance. Hope and possibility lie not only in seeds but in the soul of every person. With your help, we will begin to build the communities we need for a richer future.

Love, Farmer John



KU Product Item price Quantity Total
SKU16268 Christmas Pole Bean Seed
Options:
size: 1 oz
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16273 Dwarf Horticulture Taylor Bean Seeds
Options:
size: 1 oz
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16342 Broad Windsor Fava Bean Seed
Options:
Size: 2 OZ Package
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16170 Red Mammoth Fodder Beet Seeds
Options:
size: 4 grams
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16144 Fordhook Giant Chard Seeds
Options:
size: 1 gram sampler
$0.99 1 $0.99
SKU16341 Sunflower, Hungarian Black Seeded $2.99 1 $2.99
SKU16344 Braco Mustard
Options:
Size: 2 OZ Package
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16375 Grain Sorghum
Options:
size: 2 oz
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16373 White Proso Millet
Options:
size: 2 oz
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16376 Black Sesame
Options:
size: 4 grams
$3.99 1 $3.99
SKU16626 Rox Orange Syrup Cane $3.99 1 $3.99
SKU16309 Dundale Pea
Options:
Size: 2 OZ Package
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16211 Red Burgundy Okra Seed
Options:
Size: 2 grams
$3.49 1 $3.49
SKU16209 Clemson Spineless 80 Okra Seed
Options:
Size: 1 gram
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16100 Oregon Sugar Pod II
Options:
size: 1 oz
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16648 Isis Candy Cherry Dry Farm $3.99 1 $3.99
SKU16652 Stupice Dry Farmed $3.99 1 $3.99
SKU16661 Black Krim DF $3.99 1 $3.99
SKU16263 Black Diamond Watermelon Seeds
Options:
Size: 2 gram sampler
$0.99 1 $0.99
SKU16223 Connecticut Field Pumpkin Seeds
Options:
size: 3 gram sampler
$0.99 1 $0.99
SKU16258 Large Red Cherry Tomato $1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16371 Fennel Finocchio Romanesco
Options:
size: 1 gram
$2.99 1 $2.99
SKU16323 Columbianum Wildform Tomato Seeds $2.99 1 $2.99
SKU16561 Crane Melon Seed $2.99 1 $2.99
SKU16216 Cayenne Long Red Thin Pepper
Options:
size: .25 gram sampler
$0.99 1 $0.99
SKU16725 Gold Ball Turnip Seeds
Options:
Size: 7 Gram Sampler
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16196 Basil,Genovese
Options:
Size: 1 gram
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16157 Giant Italian Parsley
Options:
size: 2 grams
$2.50 1 $2.50
SKU16402 Armenian Cucumber The Duke $3.99 1 $3.99
SKU16746 Ashley Cucumber Seed $2.99 1 $2.99
SKU16269 Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean Seed
Options:
size: 1 oz
$1.99 1 $1.99
SKU16360 Monstorpolgi Celeriac
Options:
size: .10 gram 70-100 seeds
$0.99 1 $0.99
SKU16188 Tendersweet Carrot Seed
Options:
size: .5 gram sampler
$0.99 1 $0.99
SKU16186 Little Fingers Carrot Seed
Options:
size: 1 gram
$1.99 1 $1.99

8 comments:

seedman said...

New goal: buy no seeds. Learn to save and trade locally for all your seeds. This is the way to sustain and create new genetic diversity. You can find online seed saving instructions on the website of this 20 year-old non-profit:

http://www.seedsave.org/issi/issi_904.html

shellywoman said...

hello seedman -

buying no seeds is indeed the long term goal. thank you for the link toward seed saving - much appreciated.

shellywoman said...

seedman - is there one seed saving book you would suggest over all?

The Idiot Gardener said...

As a new starter to the growing things malarky, I am forced to buy seeds, but I also intend to try a few experiments with other seeds I encounter along the way in normal life! Who knows where that'll end up!

shellywoman said...

idiot - the raised beds are looking good - schmancy schmancy.

may i say - i love the following -
Drink too much, exercise too little, unlikely to change!

i look forward to advice and musings in regard to human existence from the blue ape

Matt said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing a great find. I'm also trying to shift to mostly open pollentaed this year and appreciate the Texas specific notes they have in some of their descriptions. I'll be working on a seed order this weekend.

shellywoman said...

matt
how did your experiment with ollas go? Curious if i should give this a go.

Matt said...

The ollas worked well and I'm going to expand my use of them - I have a "professional" olla to compare against the ones I made and want to try a few other variations. Although I've been expanding on my own sustainable adventures (including chickens), I've done a poor job blogging about it. Something I hope to fix soon.

Speaking of water conservation, I liked the Dry Farmed Tomato Seed section of Sustainable Seed Company: http://www.sustainableseedco.com/?cat=350