High Mowing Organic Seeds' Social Responsibility
At High Mowing Organic Seeds we know the environmental importance of growing organic seeds and food, but we also know we have a responsibility to positively impact the communities around us. We recognize the importance of contributing to our own community here in northern Vermont and far beyond.
Seed Donation Program
In 2011 alone, we donated over 100,000 seed packets through our Seed Donation Program! We strongly believe that seeds are an excellent resource which can be used to teach and empower people about food security. Through our donation program, we support organizations that provide farm and nutrition education with programs such as community gardens, school gardens, church gardens, food bank gardens, summer camps, and disaster relief groups. Learn more about our Donation Program.
Seed Donations for Workshops and ClassesWe are happy to donate seed packets and catalogs to workshops and conferences that reach farmers and gardeners that may not be familiar with our company. Please email email@example.com to request a promotional donation for your event.
Produce Donation Program
One of the benefits of our Trials Farm is the thousands of pounds of vegetables that it produces. From this abundant produce we are able to have an excellent employee CSA. We are also able to donate large quantities of produce.
- Vermont Foodbank’s Gleaning Program: Once we have collected the data that we need from the crops in our Trials Field, Vermont Foodbank staff and volunteers come to harvest greens, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, melons, tomatoes, squash, to name a few. This produce is washed, packed and distributed to people in need of fresh produce throughout our state. We are proud to work with the VT Foodbank to glean over 10,000 pounds of excess produce from our fields each summer.
- Pies for the People/Soup for Supper: With the squash harvested from the fields at High Mowing Organic Seeds and puree created in Pete’s Greens’ kitchen, volunteers make and deliver food to local people during the holiday season. This project, a working partnership between the Center for an Agricultural Economy and Sterling College, along with many others, is a collaborative effort to meet the needs of a community using locally grown and donated produce, funds, facilities, and services.
Free Community Events
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- High Mowing Seeds Spring Social is a chance for farmers and gardeners to come to our warehouse and tour our facilities: greenhouses, seed cleaning, lab, seed packing, fulfillment and shipping. We have tours and workshops as well as a slideshow and snacks. This event is a fun opportunity for folks to see what we really do here, for growers to connect, and for us to learn about the needs of our customers.
- Kingdom Farm and Food Day is our main summer event. We host two days of activities in August including tours of our production and trial farms, workshops, and taste tests, culminating with New England Culinary Institute cooking dinner from the field. This is a great and informative event for everyone from commercial growers to small children.
- Growers Walks take place once a month all summer in our Trials Field. These walks, geared toward professional growers, are focused on a particular group of crops. These walks provide a chance for growers to ask questions and get tips about disease, varieties, and performance.
Our local community is an amazing hot-bed for small food-related businesses. We have some unique relationships with businesses in the community.
- Pete’s Greens: Many crops that we grow on our seed production farm require letting the plant go past the point of eating so that the seeds can mature. However, certain crops such as melons and squash have perfectly edible flesh at the time that we harvest them for seed. Pete’s Greens is just up the road from us in Craftsbury, Vermont and had a commercial kitchen. Certain crop types, such as our butternut squash, we take to his farm to extract the seeds, and he is then able to process them to sell as frozen puree in his winter market season.
- Caledonia Spirits & Winery was looking for a locally-sourced carbohydrate for distilling into vodka. Owner Todd Hardie hired a local farm to grow mangels for him, but they had yielded very low sugar content. In the 2011 season, we conducted a 16-variety, non-GMO sugar beet trial to determine the best sugar beets to grow in northern Vermont for the following categories: sugar content, yield, canopy vigor, and disease resistance. From these sugar beets Todd made a trial batch of sugar beet vodka with a unique, earthy flavor. Todd now plans to contract a local farmer to grow a larger crop for more experimentation in 2012!
Vermont Business Environmental Partnership
High Mowing Seeds has been a recognized partner of the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership since 2008. As a VBEP partner, High Mowing Seeds is committed to protecting the environment, the health and safety of our employees, and the community in which we conduct our business. It is our policy to seek improvements throughout our business operations to lessen our impact on the local and global environment by conserving energy, water, and other natural resources; reducing waste generation; recycling and purchasing recycled products; and, reducing our use of toxic products. We are committed to pollution prevention, continual improvement and meeting or exceeding all environmental regulatory requirements.
Sugar Beet Lawsuit – Center for Food Safety, et al. v. Thomas J. Vilsack, et. al
In January 2008, concerned about the USDA’s deregulation of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready variety of sugar beets, High Mowing Organic Seeds joined the Organic Seed Alliance, Center for Food Safety and the Sierra Club to file a lawsuit requiring the USDA to conduct an Environmental Impact Study before allowing the deregulation. In September 2009, a California judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs that the USDA failed to follow federal law requiring a full environmental study.
Sugar beet seed is grown primarily in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which is also an important seed growing area for crops closely related to sugar beets, such as organic chard and table beets. GE sugar beets are wind pollinated and will inevitably cross-pollinate the related crops being grown in the same area. Such biological contamination would be devastating to organic farmers, who face debilitating market losses if their crops are contaminated by a GE variety.
Contamination also reduces the ability of conventional farmers to decide what to grow, and limits consumer choice of the foods they can eat.
In his September 21, 2009 order requiring APHIS to prepare an EIS, Judge Jeffrey S. White emphasized that “the potential elimination of a farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer's choice to eat non-genetically engineered food, is an action that potentially eliminates or reduces the availability of a particular plant has a significant effect on the human environment.”