The Living Seed Company

We are dedicated to Happy Healthy People preserving 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. We preserve food diversity and educate about seed saving.
The Living Seed Company has written 53 posts for Living Seed Company

Planting your Winter Garden in the Summer

Heirloom CarrotsEver wondered when would be a great time to plant a garden you can harvest in the cold of winter? Now! Believe it or not, from now till mid-summer is the ideal time to plant seeds for your fall and winter garden.


If growing a winter garden has piqued your interest, then read up on how to best grow varieties you would like on your winter table. It will be wise to do some research and even check in with your local extension office, as not all varieties will want to be grown now and some will grow better in the fall and others in the spring.


As your spring garden begins to wane and more space becomes available in your garden beds, now would be a great time to begin selecting your favorite cool loving vegetables.   Think Brussels spouts, cabbage, kale, carrots, beets, Swiss Chard, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, celery, radishes and many more!


Keep in mind that protecting your plants from the heat, during the summer months and then protecting them from fall and winter frosts will be the key to a successful winter garden. Integrating cold-frames, row covers and clotches might be the perfect solution to extending the seasons and protecting your crops.


When deciding what to plant, think of the varieties that take the most time to mature and plant those now, while plan to seed those varieties that are fast to mature and plant those later in the season. Take into account the amount of time needed before transplanting and harvesting, this in addition to, noting plants sensitive to frost is something to consider. Lastly, taking into consideration fall factor is key to success! Fall factor represents the change in pace plants take as they move into the dark of the year.


When thinking of what you want to enjoy on those cold winter days, its important to work backwards when planning your garden. Take into account the following:


  • The amount of days from planting to transplanting
  • Incorporate the average number of days till maturity
  • Tack on an extra couple of weeks to account for the fall factor


= The number of days to count backwards for prime winter garden production


It is important to take extra care of your seedlings as they emerge. Keeping them in areas that hover around 85 degrees or below is important to make sure they are not being scorched. Some of our mini-micro climates in our yard or patios can quickly reach high temperatures. An easy solution would also be to start your seedlings inside and transplant after they have reached about an inch or so in height.


Keep in mind that mulching your garden beds now, like any other time, is only going to benefit water retention, weed suppression, added organic matter and enhanced fertility.


Succession planting is another excellent planning method to help you arrive at a continuous harvest. Keep track of your planting days on your garden calendar or journal. Keeping good notes, year after year, will ensure that you are learning from your mistakes and making the most of each season!


Take the opportunity, our entire inventory is 35% off till July 7th, 2015. Use the coupon code: “SUMMER”.



Save Water Plant a Garden!

starting-to-garden-glovesCalifornia is in its 2nd year of a historical drought. Although,our state has naturally moved through cycles of drought and abundant rain, over the past many decades, its still disconcerting that we have not had a storm for a couple of months.

Gardeners, farmers and concerned citizens a like are taking drastic measures for conserving water from tearing out lawns to integrating water saving technology and even abstaining from planting their spring gardens.   Unfortunately, the latter does little if anything, to actually conserve water. Those choosing to refrain from putting a garden in are generally still purchasing the same produce, they would be growing, from a supermarket.   Big ag accounts for 70% of the world’s water use and much of that is wasted in inefficient practices. Some of those practices include overhead watering, washing produce before and after shipping, transporting food across state and international borders and disposing of food aesthetically not marketable.

With new emergency water conservation regulations, set by the State, Californians are feeling the need to not plant a garden. Yet, a home gardener and even a small-scale farmer can grow food efficiently, while using a minimum amount of water. Integrating simple solutions can make the difference between enjoying fresh garden veggies out of the garden or compromising for store bought. Consider heavy mulching, planting more drought tolerant varieties, experimenting with dry-farming, use smart watering strategies, reuse shower and cooking water to irrigate, use intensive planting practices and plant varieties with similar water needs together.

Eliminating weeds, may seems like gardeners’ protocol, but many gardeners also make peace with their weeds and use a more zen approach to plants that are in the wrong place. But the reality is that some weeds, like lambs quarters and crab grass, are responsible for consuming 80 gallons of water to create 1 pound of plant tissue – that is a staggering number! Integrating weed control with heavy mulching can go a long way in water conservation tactics, conserving as much as 1 inch of water per week.

By integrating low-tech water saving technology in homes, such as low flow showerheads and aerators and expanding that to the garden with low-flow watering wands, rain barrels and drip irrigation, saving water while having a thriving garden couldn’t be easier.  Best of all California is offering a lot of financial incentives for water conservation.

With new rebate programs, homeowners can integrate solutions such as:

Laundry-to-landscape system components

  • Rain barrel
  • Pool covers
  • Hot water recirculation systems

By growing your own food you can control the amount of water used and limit water waste.   By doing a little research and some minor adjustments, gardeners can still grow an abundant garden year round!  Best of all dry farming practices add more flavor while using drastically less water – what a concept Less water more flavor! All these simple practices can make a big difference in the bigger picture.  It’s now all of our responsibilities to conserve every drop!



Seed to Table Dinner

Seed to Table Dinner 04.18

Seed of the Week – Italian Parsley

ParsleyEvery week we are going to introduce a Seed of the Week, 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!

A wonderful herb fresh or dried. Parsley is widely used in American, European and Middle Eastern cooking. Great ingredient in stocks, soups and sauces. A complement to salads, potatoes, fish, stews and many other dishes. Remember germination can be slow!

Cultivated as an herb, spice and vegetable.  Considered one of the healthiest foods, consider planting parsley this spring and begin sprinkling it in your morning omelet, your afternoon sandwich and even in your evening soup!  Organic parsley is on sale today for only $1 in our store – get it today!


Seed Saving for a Delicious Future

Printed in Pacific Horticulture Magazine

Pacific Horticulture Seed Saving_Page_1Pacific Horticulture Seed Saving_Page_2Pacific Horticulture Seed Saving_Page_3

Seed To Table Dinners

The idea for hosting farm to table dinners had been something we have been thinking about for quite sometime.  After repeated encouragement from friends and family to share the delights that are served in our kitchen, we decided to create themed Seed to Table dinners. HI5A8559_2

Our first dinner, back in October of 2014, was a complete sold out success!  One of our guests enjoyed the dinner so much that he requested that we do these on a bi-weekly basis instead of bi-monthly!

Our Seed to Table dinners support our Giving Seed Program.   Proceeds from the dinner and donations will help us continue our work in giving heirloom and open pollinated seeds to schools and organizations growing gardens to feed the body, mind and spirit.

Dinners are all prepared by Chef Matthew and are created out of freshly
harvested wonders from The Living Seed Company’s farms and local
West Marin producers. Dinner is $75 per person and includes, hors d’oeuvres, soup, salad, a main course, dessert, wine and non-alcoholic beverages.

All dinners will take place in Point Reyes Station, CA.  For dates and information on upcoming dinners, please contact Astrid at

Valentine’s Day Seed to Table Dinner – SOLD OUT!

Valentine's Day Seed to Table DinnerFor More Information email

Preparing your Garden for Spring

Late autumn/Early Winter is an ideal time to prepare your garden for the spring season to come. Many gardeners consider this season, the beginning of Spring, because what you

do or don’t do now, will be reflected in your garden next year.

For many of you, your fall/winter garden may just be part of your annual garden cycle. Either way, this is the time of the year to work on your soil, clean up beds, cut-back blackened stems and foliage and dead-head flowers. All this, helps prevent the possibility of harboring disease pathogens and insect eggs, over the winter. Another simple tip on preventing spreading pathogens is simply by not leaving the hose nozzle on the ground!

As winter approaches, there are many preparations to do in order to put your garden to bed, until late winter. Weed, weed, weed … by stopping weeds from spreading now, you will save yourself a lot of backache come spring. Since the ground is moist, weeding couldn’t be easier. While weeding, make sure that the root structure of your winter garden is not being compromised.

Once your beds have cleared, adding leaf mulch, specifically oak leaf, would be ideal. Avoid redwood, eucalyptus, bay and pine leaves for their acidic content. Cover your beds with 6 inches of lightweight mulch and fork that in a bit. For added nutrients, add compost underneath and work it in before adding the leaves. This thin cover will serve as the ideal winter layer to protect your plants, soil and roots. Though our ground does not freeze, this extra layer will begin breaking down and become organic matter for your spring and summer plantings.

As you are cutting back and dead-heading, this is an optimal time to work your compost pile. Remember to not throw in weed seeds or anything that may be diseased. Hot, active piles kill weed seeds and disease pathogens, but you need to have a compost thermometer to be assured your pile reaches 150 degrees or beyond.

A great way to add more organic matter to you soil is by cutting the annuals at their base and leaving the roots there to decompose over the course of time. Snip off the seed heads and sprinkle them around your garden.

This is a great time to propagate and divide perennials, but remember to wait until the first frost to cut back your perennials to soil level.Chard

How is your soil? The more fertile and aerated your soil is, the more hydration it will be able to receive. Know the texture of your soil, what it is made of, its structure and how it behaves. Knowing these qualities will help address the needs of your soil. With all the rain we have been receiving, it behooves us to be able to prepare our soil to receive as much moisture as possible. Adding mulch and wood chips can significantly help prevent runoff and erosion.

As the rains come down observe how the water travels in your yard, garden and around your house.   Slowing water down while sinking it into the water table are ideal methods to maximize water penetration into the earth. Integrating burms into your landscape is a more project intensive solution, but could offer an excellent solution to direct and sink rainwater into the ground. Keep in mind that working deep into the soil, while it is still very wet, can be destructive to the soil structure. Wait until the earth has dried before starting any project.

Rain barrels are another easy way to collect all the water that we are receiving these days. They are easily found and simply to install. If you are handy, you can build one out of a range of materials.

These days are perfect to set the stage for a beautiful spring and summer garden to come!

The Living Seed Company is an organic and heirloom seed company based in Point Reyes Station. As a Bay Area seed company. 415.663.8002


Point Reyes Station’s Living Seed Bank

The LightBUSINESS: Astrid and Matthew Hoffman began growing and selling heirloom seeds through their business, the Living Seed Company, in 2011. The former interior designer and puppeteer met at the Solstice Grove Institute in Nicasio, where they butted heads before teaming up.


Husband-and-wife team Matthew and Astrid Hoffman are seed farmers and distributors who live in a large house with bright blue siding that sits across the street from Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station. Their home—which they rent from a longtime Point Reyes resident who helps them package seeds—is the base of operations for the Living Seed Company, the couple’s nascent seed-saving business, and during the busy packaging seasonthe whole house transforms into an office space strewn with seed packets and boxes filled with produce they’ve grown from the seeds they’ve saved, such as peppers and (surprisingly) watermelons.“It’s pretty much just Matthew and myself,” said Astrid, who ran an ecological interior design company in Santa Monica prior to launching the Living Seed Company. “We hired a designer to do our website and we bring on seasonal volunteers, but we’re the two more-than full-time people in the company.”

The Living Seed Company is a local seed growing and vending business and online retailer that the Hoffmans created in 2011 to support themselves as a family and to promote sustainable seed-saving practices. The company also runs seed-saving education workshops and donates seeds to schools, farmers markets, libraries, correctional facilities and community gardens.

At the operational level, Astrid is in charge of the company’s in-house responsibilities: day-to-day administration, accounting, marketing, public and vendor relations. Matthew oversees the entire seed production, which encompasses the half-acre backyard load and two larger sites at Black Mountain Ranch.

“We’re trying to find a way to live and farm here in West Marin,” said Matthew, who grew up farming with his family in rural Wisconsin and worked as a giant puppeteer for Puppet Farm Arts. “We’re a young company focused on the greater good for the Bay Area. It’s definitely a dream to be in Point Reyes. Farmers are heroes here.”

Aside from saving seeds from their local stock, the Hoffmans coordinate with other growers along the West Coast and with some in the Midwest. The couple selects sources from a cream-of-the-crop vendor list that was given to them by a mentor whom they met while attending a weeklong seed school.

“There is a very delicate dance between knowing what to stock and how to prepare for the growing season,” Matthew said. “We’re fortunate to know we have high-quality seeds. Not all seeds are grown in climates similar to ours. It’s like the food movement: know your seed farmer.”

Living Seed is one of many regional seed growing organizations that have signed the Council for Responsible Genetics’ Safe Seed Pledge, by which buyers and sellers agree they will not knowingly trade in genetically modified or engineered seeds. Founded in 1983, the nonprofit council conducts research on genetics issues and provides a network for the non-G.M.O. seed market.

“Too often the conversation is limited to whether G.M.O. products are safe or not,” said Jeremy Gruber, the president of the Cambridge-based council. “The truth is that we just don’t know. There have been a number of studies, but there have been no long-term studies done that look at the effects of G.M.O.s over many years. Unfortunately, we live in a country that allows G.M.O. proliferation while studies are still being done.”

High-profile G.M.O. corporations like Monsanto have attracted media attention by their fierce lobbying to control product labeling rights and make it harder for the general public to know whether or not their food has been genetically modified. Meanwhile, since the 80s and 90s, these companies have slowly swallowed up small bioregional seed companies and, in doing so, have greatly reduced seed varieties.

“After thousands of years of seed-saving practices, there has been a huge shrinkage of available seed stores,” said Matthew, who believes fewer seed varieties put communities at risk by the possibility of climate change wiping out one or two predominant strains. “The future is moving back to smaller food systems. Seed saving allows people to adapt their seeds to their environment, so that the seeds become more resilient. It’s a process that takes years, but it’s important for regional food security.”

Unlike companies that produce hybrid G.M.O. seeds, Living Seed only sells what are known as “heirloom” seeds. All heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, which means they grow to produce offspring similar to their parent plants. This practice plays a key role in seed-saving techniques that, according to the Hoffmans, could over time restore seed variety, resilience and security.

“The miracle of a seed is pretty wonderful,” Astrid said. “Even though we’ve lost a lot over the past century, the opportunity is still there to create new heirlooms. Seeds are such intelligent beings, aware of where they are and adapting constantly.”

Like the seeds they grow, the Hoffmans have also had to adapt to changing conditions. The two met at the Solstice Grove Institute Program, a long-term environmental residency in Nicasio, where the couple butted heads at first but eventually found themselves talking about marriage and raising a family. The couple hopes to one day teach their children how to grow seeds, keeping the cycle of seed farming alive in West Marin.

To date, the Hoffmans have financed Living Seed through a variety of their own funds and loans from family and friends. Now, the company is in the midst of a two-week Kickstarter campaign (which was chosen as staff pick by Kickstarter within five minutes after launching). The Hoffmans have until Dec. 17 to raise $15,000.

Funds raised will go toward updating the seed packet image and revamping the website’s shopping cart feature, as well as streamlining office functions so that both Hoffmans can spend more time growing and breeding local seeds.

To pledge to the Living Seed Company’s kickstarter campaign please visit…

Growing a Delicious, Beautiful and Sustainable Future

The Living Seed Company is turning to alternative crowd funding, as a way, to bring their seeds to more gardens.

With just 2 weeks to fund the project, The Living Seed Company is seeding a cause to grow.

The Living Seed Company is a young family owned and operated heirloom seed company based in GMO-Free Marin county in Point Reyes Station, CA. and is turning to Kickstarter, with an all or nothing model, to raise the funds it needs to expand and grow. The Living Seed Company has a total of 14 days to fundraise their goal of $15,000.  The campaign will run until December 17th, 2014.

Take a look at their campaign here.

Astrid and Matthew Hoffman of The Living Seed Company, chose this online model as an alternative way to raise
funds for the expansion and growth of their heirloom seed company.  Crowd-sourcing has an ability to reach a wide audience while creating a momentum in their campaign that will inspire those who come across it to fund and spread the good word.


Packet Design 2015We are ready to step into greater exposure both in the San Francisco Bay Area, West Coast and nationally.  Our wholesale vendors which includes garden centers, hardware stores and specialty shops have requested we add images of the varieties to our wonderful information filled packets.  We have taken most of the photographs and are currently reformatting the packets to incorporate them. A major cost involved in this is the printing of new packets and labor to reformat.

We also need to update our website to make it more search engine optimized (SEO) and e-commerce friendly. We have received a lot of comments on how beautiful and clean our website design is and we want to keep the same look with more user friendly features, for both the customer and us.  There are a lot of new plugins available that will help us save time and money by providing; invoicing, shipping labels, tracking, inventory and analytics.

We also need to update one of our computers to ensure seamless interaction with the new site.   Another item needed is machine to print “packed for date” and “lot number” which we are currently doing by hand and is very time consuming.

Another time consuming aspect of the company is seed cleaning.  With the help of a couple seed cleaning machines we can spend a lot more time growing seeds and our customer base.

Campaign runs till December 17th, 2014.

Please join and support our work!

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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