Farming

This category contains 24 posts

Not All Seed Is Created Equal

Painted Mountain Corn The world of seeds can be a cornucopia of information, images and wild descriptions, almost all with promising results.  Unfortunately, for most novice gardeners, it can be very misleading and frustrating.  How can you tell if a seed company is good or not?  Simple, if you can call them and have them provide you with where their seed crops have been grown.  Most small seed  houses would be more than happy to provide such information, as it proves that the consumer is going the extra mile to ensure where their seed source truly comes from.  You will be surprised to learn that not many seed companies grow their own seed, which leaves the consumer to trust each company for providing seed that has vigor, traits and characteristics signature to each seed.

Today, you can find prices for a packet of seed, start at a modest 99 cents and reach upwards of $8.00.  So what is the difference in that large gap?  Most seed, sold economically via big box retailers is usually grown in Asia.  Which means, it is already adapted to a region, soil type and water source, that is completely different from what you have at home.  Their organic standards may be something to question, as well as their labor practices and environmental impact, among other things.  Despite federal germination standards, inexpensive seed has lower germination.  Although this may or may not be due to the quality, it often has to do with how the seeds are stored and transported, before it makes its way into a garden.  Seeds are living breathing embryos and conditions that are too hot can inevitably kill the seed before it has even had a chance to germinate.  At the turn of the 20th century, the United States was full of regional seed houses covering the country from coast to coast.  In the 80’s there was a huge consolidation of the seed industry when large pharmaceutical and big ag companies bought out many of these family owned businesses.  This not only reduced the available genetic stock to gardeners and farmers, but began to tip the scales heavily, in a direction that did not favor biodiversity, preserving genetic stock, seed saving or family farms.    This has caused a dichotomy in the world of seeds and available food varieties, but with new seed houses sprouting up again, things are changing and rare and unusual varieties are becoming the vegetables and fruits of choice.  Most importantly, consumers are becoming more aware of what to look for in their food, what questions to ask their farmers and now, how to choose from a reputable seed company.

Not all seImageed is created equal.  A seed may have the same variety name, as seed from another company, but the quality in its traits may be vastly different.  Just imagine the difference in how a small farmer vs. a large farmer will have the ability to pay attention to his fields and truly choose crops that are only of the highest quality. The purity of a seed variety is only as clean as the attention paid to that crop. More awareness among gardeners and consumers, alike, are realizing the importance of supporting small family farms and family owned businesses, which the very back bone of what this country was created on.

Seeds naturally adapt to where they are being grown, the  more they are planted in the same place the more resilient they become to pests, disease and inclement weather.  Seeds, sold from a reputable seed house can offer seeds that were probably grown in conditions where plants are rouged and seed is never harvested from diseased or weak plants.  This practice in turns builds strength and purity in a genetic line, assuring vigor in future generations.  Choosing seed that has been grown in your local area or in similar climate will assure that the seeds you plant will naturally be more acclimated to your climate and will thrive with your love and attention.  This inherently builds regional resilience in the food supply of an area.Image

It wasn’t too long ago that most gardeners and farmers saved the seed from their fields, but with the on-slot of modern agriculture, that ancient practice began to fall away in favor of hybrids and petroleum-based pesticides and insecticides.  The chain was broken, but only temporarily. There is a resurgence in returning to these practices, these ways that have been tried and true for thousands of generations and they are reminding us of how things were done.  In such a way that is in reverence to the plants and the earth, where a relationship of reciprocity is developed and trusted.  One of our main principles, as a small family owned seed company, is for more and more farmers and gardeners to begin to tap back into the beautiful cycle of life, known as seed saving.  We believe seeds are not meant to be stored, we believe the most vital seed vault is in your very garden.  The living embodiment of life and death, the place where we find ourselves and learn about the nuances of life.

There is a strong opposition, happening globally, to reject what is happening in modern ag and the truth is that growing a garden may be one of the most radical acts anyone can do.  It directs the energy into what works, locally grown food sourced from your backyard.  For those without a yard, supporting local farmers via CSA’s and farmers markets can be as rewarding and powerful.  Starting a garden with pure seed is essential in growing a healthy vibrant garden!  When folks buy seed from us, we see it as though they have joined our growing family.  Where they will received the support they need to assure their plants thrive in the ways that they are meant to!

 

 

Seed of the Month | Cosmic Purple Carrot

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Every month we are going to introduce a Seed of the Month, where we are going to select one seed to highlight.  We will share the historical attributes, the story that makes this variety an heirloom and why we love it so much!

This stunningly beautiful vegetable is now sought after by chefs and home-cooks for its radiant colors, delicious taste and enhanced health benefits.  Purple Carrots have been grown in since 900 A.D. in Afghanistan, Turkey and Middle East, but this incredible carrot was only Introduced in 2005.  Dr. Philipp Simon and staff at the USDA  in Madison, Wisconsin, bred a whole new spectrum of  colored carrots, stay tuned for more of those varieties!

The Cosmic Purple Carrot adds a punch to any meal, whether enjoyed raw or cooked.  Grate it in a salad or on the side, add some lime juice and relish in the crunch while enhancing your meal with a sweet spice!

Please meet Cosmic Purple Carrot

An amazing colored carrot, Cosmic Purple on the outside and brilliant orange and yellow on the inside.  A delicious sweet and spicy flavor that kids of all ages will love!  This one is a favorite!

Purple has always been a sign of royalty and now purple vegetables are a sign of health. Rich in phytonutrients, this vegetable will add more than just beauty to your meal, it will enhance your overall well-being!

The importance of Planting a Garden this Year

Drought With California experiencing one of the most severe droughts on record and Governor Brown having declared a state of emergency, it is no wonder many gardeners have decided to let their gardens go fallow this year. The only problem with that philosophy is that by planting a garden this year, could be one of the wisest thing gardeners can do, to actually save water. There is a misunderstanding that growing a garden takes a lot of water.  On the contrary, gardens when done properly, do not require much water at all.

The irony, in this misnomer, is that factory farms and large farming operations, intensely and often improperly use water to not only irrigate crops, but also to wash and prepare veggies for market. A backyard garden would use a dramatically less amount of water to grow and wash the same vegetables.

FOOD PRICES

In the shadows on this drought, it is also estimated that food prices are on the rise. With California being one of the largest global producers of vegetables, fruits and nuts, it is only natural that prices will reflect the effects of this drought. It is also speculated that it will have a two-year impact on tree crops, such as fruit and nuts, since its takes these crops longer to recover from the drought.

Carnival Clown carrots from our garden Quoted from the USDA website:

Despite the surge in the fresh fruit … and ongoing concerns regarding the effect of the California drought, farm-level fruit prices fell 6.8 percent in March, and farm vegetable prices rose 1 percent. The timing of the effects of the drought on prices … depends heavily on the harvest period for each

commodity; such effects may not occur until the Summer or Fall of 2014.

 This forecast is based on an assumption of normal weather conditions; however, severe weather events could potentially drive up food prices beyond the current forecasts. In particular, the ongoing drought in California could potentially have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy, and egg prices …

WATER

We have come a long way in water technology to design and create systems that inherently are water efficient and more wasted watereffective in their purpose, for example to water plants and not sidewalks.

By integrating a drip system in your own garden, you are not only effectively watering your plants, by targeting their roots, but you are also using a system that conserves water. Not all gardens will have the ability to have drip installed, but there are further alternatives in water technology to be water wise. Not all nozzles are created equal. Using nozzles that properly aerate and distribute water can be a simple solution for those who enjoy hand watering their gardens.

Consider collecting the water, that is wasted, when you are waiting for the water to heat up to water your garden. Do you have aerators on your kitchen and bathroom faucets? Another simple water saving solution under $2.

Think of your stormwater and greywater, are you properly managing the water on your property? These days, installing rain barrels to a downspout is a simple and cost-effective solution to re-purpose our rainwater. Creating burms and swales helps navigate our storm water from ever even leaving our property and allowing it to properly be retained in the soil and replenish our water tables. Rerouting the waste water from your washing machine is another effective solution to water your trees. Best to use biodegradable detergents and naturally based detergents, if you are considering this option or are already implementing it.

SOIL

SoilBuilding soil in your garden is the key to healthier crops, better water retention and drainage, better soil structure and less susceptibility to pests and disease. Healthy soil is the foundation of every garden and farm.

There are many simple cost-effective ways to add organic matter into your garden, such as planting a cover crop in the fall and using it as green manure. Other simple ways are sheet mulching, adding compost and integrating well-rotted manure. Mulching is another excellent way of building organic matter, suppressing weeds, preventing rain compaction, but most of all, it will retail moisture in the soil. There are many types of mulch, anything from grass clippings to leaves (oak leaves in particular make an excellent mulch). If you choose to buy your mulch and wanting to buy straw, make sure that you are buying straw and not hay. Hay will have seedheads that eventually will sprout in your garden. Maintain the 5% – 6% organic matter rule, as too much of it can over stimulate the microorganisms in the soil which can cause soil fertility to decline.

Soil that is properly tended, without chemicals and with the microbiology of the underground flora in mind will support and replenish water tables.

GARDENINGChard

Saving seed this year is going to be another simple step in adapting, your vegetables to be being able to thrive on less water, if you replant them year after year. The more you save and adapt your seeds, the more resistant the seeds will be to pests and disease and adapted to your specific local climate and soil. In turn, if there is inclement weather, your crops are more likely to be resilient and able to properly respond to changes, such as drought.

Another way to save water in your garden or farm is to start exploring dry farming. With a long history, Mediterranean countries have been dry farming olives and grapes for thousands of years, producing some of the finest wines and olive oils. It is the process of establishing your crop, on the onset with irrigation and then removing it. This stress causes the plant to reach deep into the water table to find its water and re-hydrate itself. What happens in the process is that by restricting the water intake, the fruits have less water content, this naturally raises their sugar content as well as other enhancing flavor compounds, creating scrumptious fruits and vegetables.

If dry farming interests you, there things to keep in mind. You should know your water table levels, be assured that the plants you plan on dry farming are more drought resistant and lastly dry farm from the beginning. Varieties that thrive in this method are grapes, olives, pumpkins, melons, tomatoes, garbanzos, apricots, apples, grains, potatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes and winter squash.

This may be the beginning of seeing the possibilities of growing food in a year of drought, while also empowering you to take a deeper look at where water conservation techniques can be integrated in your home, whether you own or not.

 

 

Living Seed company takes root from heirloom seeds

Brigid Gaffikin as written for The San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paul Chinn / The Chronicle

Matthew Hoffman and Astrid Lindo, owners of the Living Seed Co., grow several varieties of produce and plants in their garden in Nicasio.

From their home in a quiet stretch of Marin County near San Geronimo, two entrepreneurs are hoping to take gardening back to a time when an abundance of plant diversity was the norm.

Matthew Hoffman and Astrid Lindo grow, source and sell seeds of rare and heirloom edibles. Their young business, the Living Seed Co., hung up its virtual shingle just last year.

“What’s amazing is 100 years ago, everybody saved their own seed and in just a short period of time, just a couple of generations, all that changed,” Lindo said.

The numbers behind this shift are remarkable, according to a study of crop diversity in the United States by the Rural Advancement Foundation International, a family farm policy and advocacy group. By 1983, the 408 varieties of peas cultivated on American farms some 80 years earlier had dwindled to 25. Sweet corn saw a drop from 307 to 12 varieties.

Lindo and Hoffman are new to farming but have embraced their venture with a quiet energy and intensity that one suspects drove their lives well before they founded the company.

Hoffman, 36, traveled the world for a decade as a puppeteer with Jane Goodall’s Giant Peace Dove Campaign. Lindo, 35, was born in Colombia but moved to Miami as a toddler. As an adult, she studied in Europe and New York before opening an interior design firm in Southern California. They met in 2009 and decided to make a life together.

A new career

Hoffman began thinking about a new career – one that would support the couple’s commitment to helping others live healthy lives and that would support a family, too.

Starting a seed company seemed a natural fit. Hoffman grew up in rural Wisconsin in a family of gardeners and as a young child lived 2 miles off the grid in a two-room cabin.

“Really it just kind of clicked,” he said. “To be able to grow your own seeds for your own garden … seems a really beautiful way to raise a family.”

Hoffman undertook intensive training in New Mexico at the first-ever seed school taught by Bill McDorman, one of the veterans of the contemporary North American seed-saving movement.

His enthusiasm was infectious; within a few months, Lindo decided to set aside her interior design business and immerse herself in the fledgling business. The couple talked with experienced seed growers and farmers, researched catalogs, and scanned gardening forums and blogs online. And then they dug in and began growing their own seed. At the outset, they largely bootstrapped the company. When they decided to expand, they secured loans from friends.

‘So beautiful’

“It was so beautiful,” Lindo said. “To look back, you know, and a year later we’d farmed a third of an acre of painted mountain corn and some squash and tomatoes and lettuce.”

McDorman, director of Native Seeds/Search, a Tucson organization focused on conserving the genetic diversity of crops grown in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, is effusive in his praise of the couple.

“These young kids are way smarter than we were,” he remarked, reflecting on his generation of seed savers in the 1970s. “Matthew and Astrid are indicative of what’s coming, a whole new wave.”

Seed trading among farmers a century ago has its modern counterpart in businesses like the Living Seed Co., he said.

“That’s where the real revolution is happening, in urban agriculture.”

For Lindo and Hoffman, revolution goes hand in hand with education.

“I think part of our responsibility is to re-inspire people to grow out some of these unique varieties and keep them going and keep them fresh,” Lindo said. “A lot of seed companies are taking them off the racks, and so they may just disappear.”

Adapting to location

“You can watch, over the season, which of your lettuce plants or tomato plants did really well, save the seeds from those, plant them again the next year,” Hoffman said. “That’s one of the beauties of seed saving … every time you save your own seeds, you’re adapting it to your location, so that plant’s going to do better each succession.”

Four of the company’s five seed collections include a seed-saving booklet that groups seeds by how easy or difficult they are to save.

The couple have embraced the educational potential in the Internet, too. They have a lively Twitter feed, a blog and a Facebook page as well as a YouTube channel with instructional videos on seed-saving techniques.

The company also donates seeds to school garden programs, urban garden programs and correctional facilities.

“Most people aren’t going to grow all of their own food, but growing some of their own food – it’s fulfilling in a way that’s beyond, you know, explaining to somebody unless you’ve done it,” Hoffman said. “But it’s worth the experiment, even if you’re just growing a little bit of lettuce.”

Seeds with a story

The Living Seed Co. grows its own seeds in Dixon and Nicasio and sources other seeds from seed banks that farm only in North America. A look at some of the offerings:

‘Amish Paste’ tomato: An heirloom tomato with origins in Philadelphia, the ‘Amish Paste’ disappeared for decades before being rediscovered in Wisconsin. Delicious fresh but also ideal for canning and sauces.

‘Mammoth Grey Stripe’ sunflower: This drought-tolerant, long-blooming, fast-growing native sunflower reaches heights of up to 12 feet, and its flowering head can reach a width of 2 feet. The seeds can be eaten or used for butter or oil.

‘Painted Mountain’ corn: A highly productive flour corn developed by cross-breeding 70 corn varieties for high-altitude growing, a short season and extreme conditions in countries experiencing famine.

‘Stars and Moon’ watermelon: Introduced in North America around 1900 and a staple of seed catalogs in the early decades of the 1900s, this deeply hued, pink-fleshed melon is dappled with yellow blotches that resemble stars in a night sky. It was rediscovered in Missouri in 1980.

‘Merveille des Quatre Saisons’ lettuce: A vigorous French butter-head with a long growing season and tolerant of a wide range of climates, this heirloom lettuce was grown in France at least as early as the late 19th century.

Living Seed Co.

Living Seed Co.’s Giving Seed Program donates one collection to a school or charity for every 10 collections sold. Learn more at www.livingseedcompany.com or call (415) 662-6855. Read the blog at livingseedcompany.wordpress.com and check them out on twitter:@LivingSeedCo; Facebook: www.facebook.com/LivingSeedCompany; and YouTube: bit.ly/wR0P3B

Brigid Gaffikin is a freelance writer in Piedmont. home@sfchronicle.com

This article appeared on page F – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/27/DD9P1NDH6T.DTL&ao=2#ixzz1r0saSQ7s

You Are What You Eat!

Eating is one the many fundamental actions, for life, that everyone shares.   What people eat is what drastically differentiates us from other cultures and the very thing that brings us together with like-minded foodies.  We are living in a time where a lot of attention is being focused on food, whether it is the amount we are eating, the quality, how miles it has traveled and of course whether it has been genetically altered.  Whatever your interest in food may be, we are living in an exhilarating time in the history of food.

Despite that 1 in 3 Americans is obese and most food found in our supermarkets, if it is not organic, is genetically modified, there is a food revolution happening in the midst of all of this.

As we know, we began as hunters and gatherers.  Eating and cooking solely what we could hunt and harvest.  Through time, technology and the advancements of the industrial revolution things changed dramatically.  We began canning, preserving and freezing.

Today, most Americans take very little regard in what they eat, how it is processed, what is in it and most of all, how much of it they eat.  The irony is how much of our eating habits have changed drastically in a mere 100 years.  From our food supply, quantity and nutritional content, to the amount of imported goods we consume.  Perhaps a simple way of addressing this is we went from viewing food as a  sacred commodity to a simplified convenience.

While most of America has accepted that we moved from an agricultural society to industrialized agriculture and embracing that fact that most of our food travels 1500 miles – there is a huge subculture that has sprouted up globally.  This movement touts local, seasonal and organic – backyards are being converted into food forests and front lawns are being torn up to make way for urban gardens!

The movement has taken root in all of America’s largest cities, while infiltrating small towns and growing communities.  It is taking shape in the form of expanding farmers markets, community gardens, edible school yards and even homesteading.  There are several large installations of some of these applications found  in places like NY MOMA’s infamous indie art museum known as PS1.  Annually there is a competition of young architects at the opportunity to build an oasis during their summer installation.  Winners, several years ago, built an urban farm, producing food and raising chickens, right in the middle of Queens!

In the San Francisco Civic Center –  the entire front lawn has been replaced with a garden, in time for the Slow Food festival – and the harvest will coincide with festivities all through Labor Day in 2009.

In downtown Los Angeles, there is an annual Public Fruit Jam in Echo Park – where an art gallery was opened to the public to bring local fruit to make jars of fresh jam.  I attended a few years ago and I brought in green sour apples from my backyard, coupled with figs, lemons and mint to create this outrageous homemade jam!

So what are the advantages to eating local and seasonal?

With local food there are much lower energy costs and the nutritional value of your food is much higher, since the crop was not harvested early.  Most of all, you are supporting your local farmers, your community and a really incredible movement that is taking shape and coming soon to your community!

Swapping recipes, seeds and gardening tips are no longer a thing of the past, but rather a really hip and obvious thing to be doing, now!

Don’t have a yard?  Fret not … food in pots grows incredible varieties!  Don’t have time or the patience to grow your own?  There are Community Supported Agriculture known as CSA’s – where you can have a box of beautiful organic fruits and veggies grown in a local farm delivered to your door weekly!  Check out Local Harvest to see where your local CSA is.

There is that classic adage that you are what you eat.  The reality is that our habits around food have lost their value – and now more than ever, is a critical time to begin asking the right questions and being aware of what you are consuming and most of all, knowing where your food comes from.

We are finding ourselves relying on our community as well as our neighbors.  In essence we are adopting the ways of our ancestors. The need to continue to push the envelope all while looking back and taking in the strides taken by our predecessors!

The Universe under our feet – Soil

Did you know that soil was alive?   Many people do not realize this, something that on the surface may look look dead, but upon closer inspection is bustling with life!

Many people have misconceived notions about soil, it is usually associated with words such as something being dirty or soiled.  An inaccurate correlation to an element of our life that is so critical and and that is such a dependent element to our survival.  Healthy soil goes hand in hand with a healthy environment.

The nation that destroys its soil – destroys itself” (Roosevelt 1937)

The first and most important step in improving soil health is to recognize that soil is a living organism and all parts of our ecosystem depend on it – it is vital to our survival, the growth of our food and maintenance of our ecology.

There are billions of microorganisms that make up a whole network below ground.  In one spoonful there are 600 million bacteria!    Imagine that – there is an entire network of life below the ground, right underneath our toes.  A network that works together with the trees, the plants, the fungus and so much more, all to be able to sustain life above ground for us – amazing!

Soil, for example, is the measure of the health of biological systems.  In other words, soil is the metaphor of our environment, if we have healthy soil we have a healthy environment. Annually, we are losing 1 percent of our topsoil per year, due to industrial  agriculture, the process of mono-cropping, heavy chemical use and erosion of our soils.  Just to put things into perspective –  it takes thousands of years to form one inch of topsoil.

Life in the soil provides the structure for more life, and the formation of more soil.  Soil is equated to food and food is equated to life.  The fertility and the quality of soil will determine the health and stability of all life that is relying on it  – just as the health of each human being will determine fertility and the quality of their life.

The reality is that a simple way to help maintain healthy soil and manage waste in your home is by simply composting.   In essence it is an excellent free resource of nutrients for our plants and the earth.  It doesn’t smell, but mainly, it reduces the amount of waste going to a landfill, all are creating the fertile ground for a microcosm universe to exist and for soil sustainability to flourish!  Don’t know where to start?  Check out our simple DIY Urban Vermiculture Composting post!

We are all organisms working within one larger organism – called Planet Earth.  Seeing on the micro and macro level, gives us a wider perspective into the many realms that are living in harmony here with us.

Planting Seeds 101

So you got your seeds in the mail, you’re so excited … but not quite sure where to start?  Still pondering what seeds to buy?Wondering what the difference between hybrid and heirlooms?Well first think of the space you are working with and plan accordingly.  Since you are ready to plant, hopefully your soil has been amended properly with organic matter or you are starting your garden with an organic soil mix (we would recommend anything that is OMRI certified).  Remember, healthy soil = healthy plants, everything begins in the soil.  If you have not had your soil tested and are not sure what may be in your soil, we recommend raised beds and/or containers.  More info on container gardens coming soon, so stay tuned to my next post Following the Sun – Container Gardening 101.

Some of your varieties will grow horizontally, think squash, while others grow vertically, think peas.  Taking this into consideration is key to a successful garden.  I would recommend finding an unused journal or notebook that you can designate as your garden journal.  This is key to help you remember where you planted things in past seasons.  To keep your soil healthy it is important to rotate your crops, if you are planting heavy feeders.  Rotating can also prevent diseases from being transferred from one plant to another.  Our seed packets are a wealth of information and will inform you if varieties are heavy feeders or not.

Now its time to plant!  If you are direct seeding, planting in the soil, you will want to make sure there is ample space between everything (each variety needs an allotted amount of space). Don’t be too paranoid and use a ruler in the garden; gardening is more organic than that, no pun intended.  If you over-seed, you can eat your mistakes, but crowding your vegetables can also compromise their nutrient intake and can ultimately stunt your crops.  There is a fine balance so just have fun!  There are some seeds that can be broadcasted, instead of being planted individually.  As those seedlings start coming up and growing their first “seed leaves,” start to rogue (pluck out) the weaker ones.  As the leaves of the seedlings begin to start touching, rogue those out as well, over-crowding is a disadvantage when the roots and the growth of the plant become compromised.

Make sure that you have followed the directions on each seed packet, about how deep each variety should be planted.  Each seed packet is choke-full of great info that will help guide you to yielding a great harvest!

After all your seeds are tucked away in the earth, remember to sprinkle them generously with water.  This is what will awaken your seeds, this is where magic happens!  The soil must continue to stay moist for germination to occur, this means watering every day.  Should the soil dry up, you may risk having lost those seeds.  Remember you are nurturing this tiny seedling to emerge into the world, it needs your love and care … and even your song, so don’t be shy!  If you are starting some of your seeds indoors, don’t forget to harden-off your seeds before planting them in the soil or moving them outside, that means exposing your seedlings to colder air little by little.  Some folks use a cold frame, which is also great solution.

Continue to nurture your plants until the completion of your harvest.  Plan accordingly if you plan on saving your seeds.  You may want to grow extra plants, so you can enjoy some of the harvest and save the seeds.  Use your Basic Seed Saving book that we provided for you for the best information on how to properly save your seeds.

Storing your Seeds

Remember seeds, are living embryos, they should not be left in a hot place, ie: your car or a hot garage.  As long as the seeds are being stored in a cool and dry place, they will be fine.  We recommend keeping them stored in the Mylar envelop the come in.

Try to keep them out of direct sun and moisture when you are in the garden planting.  If you choose to store them in the refrigerator, they can last from 4 – 10 years (depending on each seed’s viability).

If you do choose to use the fridge as your seed storage facility, make sure that the zip lock part of the envelope is sealed.  When you do use the seeds, just let the Mylar bag sit out at room temperature until for a couple of hours, to let the seeds get to room temperature, to avoid moisture condensation forming in the seeds inside.

Premium Heirloom Seed Collections

Organic, Rare and Heirloom Seed Collections

The Living Seed Company is an heirloom seed company dedicated to supporting families, friends and communities growing healthy food and saving their seeds.

To take some of the guess-work out of gardening we have developed collections of organic heirloom vegetable and herb seeds, suited to your region and growing needs.

All of our seeds are open pollinated, non-GMO, untreated, organic or grown on small natural farms and were selected for their versatility in the culinary arts.

The Founders Collection Our original widely adapted collection suited for most climates

         

Northern Collection Our long season collection, suited for shorter climates

             

Southern Collection Our short season collection is suited for longer climates

          

Urban /Small Space Collection This mini collection is perfectly suited for Urban settings or small gardens and even container gardens

           

Salsa Collection  Our salsa collection is suited for all the fresh salsa lovers out there!

The Renaissance of Heirloom Seeds

         

Seed saving and seed knowledge became an integral and sacred part of ancient and modern civilizations.  A ritual that was naturally passed on from generation to generation, from neighbor to neighbor.  Seeds became such an innate and valued part of civilization that they were used as a form of currency throughout the world.  Seeds were considered a fundamental part of every day life.

For 12,000 thousands years, our ancestors labored over cultivating wild varieties, to arrive at varieties with the perfect texture, taste, vigor and resistance, all while adapting them to their location and climate.  This genetic diversity was characterized by countries, regions and towns – which with its own characteristic and flavor. There was a time when we marveled at the rich distinction between communities and cultures for their seed stock & food varieties.

Many culinary distinctions are still seen throughout our country and throughout the world.  It is these flavors and these foods that give a place its heritage, its culture and a palpable expression of a place. It is the biodiversity of a region reflected in form that we can savor.

Up until very recent history, we had approximately 7, 000 different species of plants, raised as food crops.  Even in North America alone, Native Americans used an astounding 3,000 –  5,000 food plants. Since 1903, we have lost 96% of the commercial vegetable varieties, a loss that is being experienced throughout the world at every dinner table.  This change in recent history has brought about a homogenization of our global diet, creating a one size fits all model that is suppressing cultures throughout the globe.  Today 15 plant and 8 animal species are now relied upon for about 90% of all human food.

Disease or climate change can decimate one of the handful of plants and animals we’ve come to depend on to feed our growing planet, we might desperately need one of those varieties we’ve let go extinct.

Seeds are the storehouse for the history and evolution of man-kind.  Seeds are the first and last link to the food chain.   It is in the seed that life resides.  Seeds are a miracle that can self-replicate hundred of times, each time becoming stronger, more resilient and adapted to a local region.  Seeds are the natural expression of life – abundant and free and they are the ultimate expression of the development of humanity and civilization. Seeds were carried over borders, on horses and boats, sown in seams or stashed in pockets. Plants and seeds have used animals and humans for the advancement of their own specie and the dissemination of its own genes.

Throughout history, humans have been selecting the strongest, diverse, best tasting and most desirable plants and saving their seeds for propagation for future generations. The genetic pool evolved with the careful selecting and saving of seeds, thus began the relationship between farmers and the magic of the seed.  Farmers realized, that by saving seeds from the most vigorous plants, they would be conserving and selecting the genetic diversity of the strongest plants, naturally passing that DNA to their offspring, resulting in stronger yields and tastier crops.

Over time, farmers began to breed and propagate varieties that were specific to their heritage and region, writing their history through food and sharing it with their seeds.  These seeds began to adapt to their particular regions, soils, weather and even to the farmers themselves.  The brilliance of the seed is demonstrated in the act of precise adaptability to its environs while building a genetic bank that is unique and site specific.  Year after year, the vigor of these plants continues to strengthen, creating prized seeds that begin to tell a story of themselves.

Each seed variety carries a story, a story of dedication, love and care.  These stories are usually associated with the seeds and passed on, for generations where they begin to be referred to as heirloom seeds – seeds with a lineage, seeds with a story.

Saved seeds were traded among neighbors and communities, thus preserving genetic and biodiversity of a region. But as elders passed away, these heirloom varieties were being lost or forgotten.  There has been an erosion in the diversity of the foods we eat and in the tradition of specialty varieties has been declining while heirloom crops are getting lost in a mire of corporate hybrids. Thousands of native and heirloom varieties have disappeared and continue to do so. We must celebrate the cultural significance of endangered plant species and preserve them.

We have seen Indigenous displacement and the need to retain seeds as the cultural value and as the mandala of a culture.  Honoring a time-old tradition that involves self sustenance and food and seed sovereignty.    It is said that the best hope for securing food’s future may depend on our ability to preserve the locally cultivated foods of the past.

What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?

“Learn about how the Government has affected our eating habits and its unintentional effects on the American appetite.” [Exhibit preview blurb]

What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet  is a fascinating exhibit, partially sponsored by the Mars, Inc. (Seeds of Change).  It reveals archives of records, photographs, videos and posters  from the holdings of the National Archives in Washington DC.  The exhibit intricately sows the seeds of how our government has been involved in the nourishment of the American people and how we have been protected from some of the atrocities that were attempted to by pulled off by profiteers.  The exhibit begins around the time of the Revolutionary War and spans to the late 1990’s.

The exhibit is broken down into four sections from Farm, Factory, Kitchen to Table.  With each section tracing how food has been intrinsically involved with the development of our food culture.  Through each section, we learn how our government has brought about regulation to keep concerns of food safety and regulation at bay.  Every industry from factory farming to candy production, was the recipient of intense scrutiny and management, eliminating things such as Bred Spred which was a new and improved coal-tar spread for your morning toast!  Posters such as the Vitamin Donut, demonstrate how propaganda was used to influence the diet of a people who at a time were conforming to what was determined to be the best for us.

In the 1830’s Congress enacted a seed giveaway program, whose intentions were to broaden what American farmers grew, by  introducing and testing rare plant varieties, found all over the world.  By the time the program had reached 30 years, it was distributing 1.1 billion free seed packets of common vegetables and flower varieties to farmers and gardeners throughout America.  During this time of trialing new varieties, the United States was also sending plant hunters to reaches of the world.  These gentlemen were set on voyages to discover new fruit, herbs and vegetable varieties, unknown to most.  Many of these excursions gave us many of the staples we use to this day, such as the Meyer lemon, that is native to China and was brought to us by agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer in 1908.

In the mid 1920’s, farmers could tune into radio programs such as The United States Radio Farm School and Farm Flashes, one of many examples that brought to light how our  government was supporting its agricultural roots and encouraging agrarian knowledge to be prolific.  A theory that can be highly debated these days with several controversial food subsidies, corporate interest versus family farm and now the cross-pollination of genetically modified organisms (GMO) throughout fields and farms all over America, to name a few.

There is a lot of information, provided we seek it.  For those that do not, or simply choose not to, are cast under the spell that the higher authorities know what is best and are here to protect our health and well-being.  Understanding where our food comes from, how it is grown and where it is grown, empowers us as consumers and by-products of the food system.  Growing our own food will only deepen that empowerment.  Growing our own food from seed and saving our own seed will give us freedom and sovereignty.

www.LivingSeedCompany.com

We're dedicated to the preservation of the genetic diversity in our food chain through the distribution and growing of open-pollinated seeds and educating about the life affirming art of seed saving.

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