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Talking to Customers About Organic Seed - Paul Betz, High Mowing Organic Seeds Sales Associate and owner of High Ledge Farm, VT


Farmer Paul Betz We have been attending our market for ten seasons now, and one thing that is a constant is that our customers are great. They are interested in how we farm, and are doing their part in promoting and supporting locally produced food. For several years now, I have been listing the varieties that I use on our signs. People are interested in this piece of our production, and it also allows gardeners an aid in sorting out what works in our area. What a great forum to talk about organic seed.

Chances are that if you are using organic seed on your farm or in your garden, you have good reasons. Mine include a solid commitment to organic agriculture. The production of conventional seed crops is a heavily treated operation. The crop is generally in the ground for a longer season, and is available to more pests and diseases for a longer time. Even though the seed is not eaten per se, the extra applications of chemical controls run contrary to how I feel anything should be produced. Whenever a crop can be produced organically, I consider that a better choice.

I also want seeds that are going to perform in an organic system. My fertility is compost and soil based, and I need varieties that are going to have the root systems to go looking for that goodness.

Lastly, I use organic seeds to do my part in supporting fellow organic farmers. The organic seed industry is still growing, and farmers and seed companies that are producing organically need to be shown that there is a market for their seeds. As demand increases, new breeding programs can begin that will create more organic varieties that produce well in organic systems. That will benefit everyone, as improvements in variety selection allow farms to grow and become more profitable.

Using Organic SeedsI think my customers want to know about this piece of how their food is being produced. I have now added the words “grown from organic seed” to the signs that I use at market. It may be a subtle change, but I think that the impact can be great. We sell a lot of plants in the spring, and I had customers asking not only about the use of organic seed, but where some of their favorite varieties were. I was able to talk to people about my choices to use seed from seed producers I trust, and why some stand-bys weren’t in my display. My hope is that people will start to think more about organic production “from seed to plate,” and how some conscious decisions can have a profound effect on the world around us.

I hope this season brings everything you need.


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76 Quarry Road :: Wolcott, VT 05680 :: phone: 802-472-6174 :: fax: 802-472-3201
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