Organic Food

This category contains 33 posts

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!

PARSLEY

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 astrid@livingseedcompany.com

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

Valentine's Day Seed to Table DinnerFor More Information email info@LivingsSeedCompany.com

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.

WHY RAISE FUNDS?

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!

BENEFIT DINNER FOR GIVING SEED PROGRAM

Seed to Table

Seed of the Month | Cosmic Purple Carrot

Image

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!

Following the Sun – Container Gardening 101

Want to have a garden, but don’t have the space?  Fret not, container gardens are the solution to the woes of urbanites and farmers alike.    Aside from having the ability to produce a significant amount of food within a limited space, container gardens allow you to have full control of what going into your soil.  This could be an easy solution for folks that may not know their soil quality while also protecting your crops from soil-borne pests.  The fact that your garden would be raised also helps with pesky garden critters. It is also a wonderful idea for students and other young people that move often and are hesitant to grow a garden that they will end up leaving the following year, they can simply take their garden with them!

Containers also solve the problem if your garden is lacking sunlight, if your containers are on castors, you can easily wheel them as they follow the sun.  This type of gardening also knows no boundaries, literally.  I have seen full-grown fig, lemon and an assortment of other fruit trees flourishing in wine barrels!  The idea is to do a bit of research and give your plants the room and light they need to grow.  Some vegetables may be compromised if their container is too shallow, such as deep setting root vegetables.  This method of gardening allows you to grow food anywhere from your porch, to your balcony to the sidewalk and even your rooftop!  Take advantage of the vertical space in your container and add trellises, teepees or wire cages.

It is a solution that allows for maximizing productivity and creativity …. containers can be upcycled from old basins, bath tubs, wheelbarrows, wagons, baskets, chairs, cinder blocks, you name it!  The sky is the limit with what you can use to make your container garden out of.  Best of all, the more unique the vessel, the more outrageous your garden will look!  Some things to keep in mind when you are reusing pieces that have old paint on them, it may have lead and you will not want to use it.  Also, another thing to keep in mind is to remember is to drill sufficient holes for drainage, if not you will drown your plants.  It has been suggested to drill the holes 2″ up on the sides, instead of on the bottom – this allows for a extra moisture retention, just don’t over water your crops!  Knowing how your pots hold or release water will also help you gauge the quantity of moisture necessary.  There are solutions for self-watering, make sure you do sufficient research before you take off for the weekend!  Depending on where you live will determine how moist/dry your vegetables will want to be, consult your local Extension office.

These types of gardens add dimension, texture, color and depth to a garden.  You can specialize each container with specific vegetables or herbs.  Perhaps using a few for companion planting vegetables and others create a medicinal, culinary and spice garden!  Think of all the incredible things you enjoy eating and explore the possibilities of growing them, noting beats fresh food right out of the garden!  Consider researching what plants do well together and which ones prefer to be at a distance.   Take into account the amount of sunlight you have available and note to have a water source near-by, watering on a daily basis is key to a successful container garden.  Our Urban Collection/Small Space Garden is geared for container gardens.  These varieties thrive in variable light and space.  When purchasing your seeds, always purchase them from a reliable source, check out our post on the Renaissance of Heirlooms to learn about why growing heirlooms and using open pollinated seeds is so important.  Now is an ideal time to plant your heat loving crops, from seed, in order to enjoy a late summer and autumn harvesting!  Take this opportunity and dig through your garage or attic, thrift-stores of curb side sales and create your container garden today!

Start from Seed – Step by Step

Spring is in full bloom and your excited to get back into your garden or start your first one.  You know you want to start your plants from seed, but not quite sure where to start.  Commencing this venture with the finest seed is an essential part to the success of your garden and the quality of your fruit.  Not all seed is the same, even if it is the same variety – not all seed houses preserve the genetics in the same manner.  A lot of the organic seed sold at local nurseries is actually from China, so always call and ask your seed company where their seeds are grown.  Also, if you plan on saving seed, which we highly recommend, then you want to make sure that you are not buying hybrid seeds.  Take a look at our article on Heirlooms vs. Hybrids, it’s an excellent guide that will help you understand what the difference between an heirloom and a hybrid is.  Always buy open-pollinated seeds.

For those of you that ordered our Living Seed Collections, you have already received them already and you are thrilled, but perhaps not quite sure where to start?  Fret not, follow this simple step-by-step model and your seedlings will be growing in no time.

Choose what you want to grow your seedlings in, are they going into temporary pots where the seedling will be transferred to the ground later or will they be placed in containers where they will stay.  If you are transplanting, consider some of the great biodegradable pots that are available.  We have seen some made from  coir, coconut husks, DIY newspaper, toilet paper rolls and even eggshells!  Using a biodegradable medium will make the transplanting less traumatic for your seedling, if this isn’t an option, transplanting the seedling, will be discussed later.

Soil is the next key ingredient in the success of your garden.  Remember this is the foundation of where your seeds are going to start.  Don’t know why soil is so important?  Check out my blog post on the importance of soil.  Initially though, you will want to use a seed-starting mix and not potting soil.  A mixture that has vermiculite, perlite and peat moss are all an excellent combination.  This mix will facilitate with drainage and proper water retention.  Fill pots 3/4 full of the seed starting mix.

Next is the most beautiful part, when you interact with the very seeds that are going to grow an abundance of food to sustain you and your loved ones.  Read the growing instructions on the seed packet as some seeds have very specific needs and should be planted only during certain times of the year.  Ideally you will not be starting your roots or deep-rooted vegetables in small containers with the intention of transplanting, as they do not like to be transplanted.  If you follow the Moon cycles, ideally you will want to wait until the New Moon to plant your seeds.  Know what the desired depth for planting is – air on less depth and do not compact the soil, this is a very common mistake. Lightly cover your seed with additional starting mix and give gratitude to the miracle that is about to happen.

Once you have set up your flats, generously water them and place them in a warm location (minimum of 50 degrees)  the warmer it is the better their germination will be.  While they are germinating, they do not need light, but they need to stay moist and warm.   Remember the seed is a living an embryo that needs air to breath and water to awaken its state of slumber.  Once they start to sprout, they will need a source of light, either natural light (south-facing) or a grow light, placed just above them.  In either case, protect your vulnerable seedlings from drafts, pets  and any other disturbances.  Lack of light will cause your seedlings to become leggy, a phenomena by which the seedling is trying the reach the light and becomes tall and lanky causing them to become susceptible to the elements once transplanted.

Keeping the soil with a similar moisture level to that of a wrung out sponge is the ideal.  Too much water will drown the seed or cause dampening off, which means there was a high level of moisture and heat which created fungal activity, both situations result in killing the seed or seedling.  A watering-can usually offers an optimal spray with enough control.  Should you forget to keep the soil moist, you may jeopardize your seedlings and their growth may be stunted or they may die. There is a sweet balance of presence that is required of your seedlings as they emerge from the soil and begin to grow their roots.  Sometimes adding a plastic dome or even DIY yogurt cups for individual seeds can help keep moisture and heat in.

Once your seedlings have reached a recommended height, you will want to transplant them as soon as possible.  A big mistake of young gardeners is leaving their starts too long in their transplant pots.  Generally you will want to wait until your seedlings have 3 – 4 true leaves – refer to image below for a reference.  Make sure your garden is ready to receive your seedlings and holes have been made and are ready to be occupied.  If you have your seedlings in plastic 6-packs or non-biodegradable pots, you will want to disturb the roots as little as possible.  Turn it on its side and gently tap.  Always hold the seedling by its true leave and never from the stem or roots.

Make sure you acclimate your seedlings to the elements, a term known as hardening off.  This can either be done by leaving them in a sheltered place for a few hours during the day, over several days.  If you have a cold frame, you can use that as an ideal way to transition your starts from the comfort of your home to the garden.  Once they have fully hardened off they will be strong and ready to be planted in your garden.  Take a look at the diagram, to the left, for an ideal way to plant your seedlings.  Best to transplant towards the end of the day or on a cloudy day, this gives your plants enough energy to recuperate from the shock without having to be in the mid-day sun.

Continue to nurture your garden with water, regular compost and amendments.  Observation is a meditative part of being in the garden that also informs you if your plants need certain attention.  Read local gardening blogs and how-to books to guide you on this beautiful journey.  Prepare for the abundance and enjoy the harvest!

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

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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