Greetings from Tom
Winter Social and Open House!
Research Report - Patterns of a Year in Seed Production
Current Events - Conferences and Trade Shows
Greetings From Tom
Welcome to our February e-newsletter. Every month we update you with information about our company, articles from some of our staff, interesting events that you can see us at, recipes and more. As a company we are very active in both our local community in Northern Vermont as well as in the wider organic and seed communities nationwide and even internationally. This work connects us to all of the wonderful and inspiring activities happening everywhere and informs us as well about the struggles and challenges that we all face as our current food system falls apart around us. High Mowing is proud to support hundreds of community organizations and school gardens with seed donations, collaborate deeply with dozens of sustainable agricultural non-profits, and even fight for what we believe in with legal means. This involvement keeps us all hopeful that together we are making big changes in re-building our food system into something that supports self-reliance and true progress for our communities. We thank all of you for your continued support and as the sun warms us all a little more, we wish you well with your planting this spring. Always let us know your feedback and if there is anything we can do to serve you better.
President & Founder
Winter Blues Have You Down?
Join Us For Our Annual Winter Social and Open House!
Saturday, March 20th 4 – 7 PM
Wolcott, VT @ the High Mowing warehouse
This fun, FREE and informative event will provide an opportunity for growers to gather and learn more about vegetable varieties and the process of commercial seed production and distribution. High Mowing Organic Seeds’ founder and seedsman Tom Stearns will offer an overview of seed production happening here in Vermont and afar, accompanied by a tour of the facility, slide show, and pot-luck get-together.
4 – 5 PM: Facility Tour: Tom Stearns, founder and president of High Mowing Organic Seeds, will give a tour of the seed warehouse, packing facility, testing lab and seed mill.
5 – 6 PM: Potluck dinner : a chance to meet other growers and to share organic growing tips and techniques. Please bring a dish or drink to share, as well as your own plate, cup and utensils to reduce waste from the event. Or, just bring yourself. Don’t let your lack of a potluck item stop you from joining us at this relaxed, informational event.
6 – 7 PM: Slideshow and discussion of vegetable varieties: Results from our extensive HMS variety trials, how to select the best varieties for your specific growing conditions, how to conduct your own variety trials – followed by a slideshow of seed production featuring High Mowing Organic Seeds’ own farm as well as other seed producers in Vermont, out west and around the world.
High Mowing Organic Seeds’ warehouse is located on Rte 15, across from the Fisher Bridge, between Wolcott center and Hardwick. Guests are welcome to join in at anytime. There will be a retail seed rack with seeds available for purchase, so get a start on your spring garden planning!
For more information, please call us at 802-472-6174
Cortland F1 Onion
Our best selling yellow storage onion for northern growers! Medium to large sized bulbs are round and very hard with a classy look. Excellent storage potential.
For more information on growing onions, visit our Onion Growing and Seed Saving Info Sheet.
Research Report - Jodi Lew-Smith, Ph.D - Director of Research & Production
Now that just about all the seed grown on our farm this past year has been cleaned, weighed, and tested, some interesting patterns have emerged that reflect the pros and cons of any given growing year. This past year, as you are all well aware, was remarkably cool and rainy all the way from the last week of May to the first week of August. This period covers the major time of plant establishment and then pollination of fruits. After this time, the weather became warm and dry through the remainder of August and nearly all of September.
How did the seed crops take it? The brassica seed crops – mostly all salad green mustards – were perfectly happy to grow in the cool conditions. However the wet conditions promoted fungal disease and certain crops – such as our beautiful stand of Surrey Arugula – proved too susceptible to survive even with routine preventive sprays. But the mustard crops that did not succumb did quite well in the end, producing good yields of high-quality seed.
Similarly, the tomatoes were under intense pressure from disease – primarily the late blight that destroyed tomato crops all over the region. We were fortunate that we were already doing preventive sprays of sulfur, which seemed to have some efficacy at slowing down the spread of the blight. Once we saw actual symptoms of the disease we switched to copper sprays, and that worked to shut down the spread completely – but mostly, I think, because the sulfur had already held it at bay and the following month was dry and warm. In the end our yields of tomato seed were somewhat disappointing, however the quality of the seed was particularly excellent – almost every one in the high 90’s for % germination.
Among the cucurbit crops – the squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, and watermelons, we had a more varied pattern of response. All of the cucurbit crops were resilient to the weather and grew well all season. However the timing of flowering – and hence of pollination - seemed to be critical. For example, the cucumbers flowered early when the weather was still quite cold and wet, and the bees were sticking close to home. Subsequently we had large quantities of undeveloped (i.e. poorly-pollinated or un-pollinated) seeds in the mature fruit – which brought our seed yields way way down from what we typically see - because we had to clean out all that light seed.
Conversely the watermelons seemed to absolutely love this regime of early cool and wet followed by later warm and dry – we have never had watermelon seed yields anywhere as high as we had this year. We can only suppose that it has to do with a greater appreciation of the early irrigation from all the rain, and then a later flowering date that coincided better with bees flying once the weather warmed up. For both our watermelon crops we had hefty yields of great quality seed.
The squashes and pumpkins seemed to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, with good to middling seed yields and variable seed quality. The range seemed to directly reflect the genetics of the particular varieties – where some require more heat and could not hack this cool season, and others are fully resilient and make good quantities and quality of seed in a wide range of conditions.
Out west they had a whole different set of patterns! But overall across the country I would characterize this year as one of relatively poor yields but good quality for the seed we did get - which is always, to my way of thinking, greatly preferable to bumper crops of crummy seed!
Look for High Mowing Organic Seeds at the following conferences and tradeshows across the nation! Our booth will be staffed by one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales representatives, so stop by to say hello, ask questions or place an order! It is always pleasure for us to meet our customers face-to-face, and we love to hear your feedback, suggestions and success stories!
High Mowing Organic Seeds’ own Tom Stearns will be speaking and presenting workshops at several conferences this season, including NOFA-New York, NOFA-Vermont, and the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society 31st Annual Winter Conference, on topics including organic seed production, the best vegetable varieties and the inspiring model of the Hardwick food system.
Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society 31st Annual Winter Conference
February 9 – 11, 2010
Watertown Event Center, Watertown, SD
Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds founder and president, will be the keynote speaker at this conference, which features workshops, entertainment and over 50 exhibitors.
NOFA-Vermont 28th Annual Winter Conference - Celebrating the Heart of Organic
February 14-15, 2010
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
The Winter Conference is the pre-eminent gathering of Vermont’s local food community: the farmers, homesteaders, gardeners, localvores, educators, and citizens that are re-localizing Vermont’s food system and leading the nation. Please join us for over 75 workshops, a Children’s Conference, two great keynote speakers, a farmers’ market, and much, much more. LaDonna Redmond, president of the Institute for Community Resources Development in Chicago will keynote on Saturday while Jack Lazor, Vermont organic dairy farmer at Butterworks Farm in Westfield, will keynote on Sunday. We also have a special guest joining us this year - USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
MOSES Mid-West Organic & Sustainable Education Service's 21th annual Organic Farming Conference
February 25-27, 2010
La Crosse, WI
An extraordinary, farmer-centered event, the Organic Farming Conference is the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. In 2009, more than 2,600 people attended. With over 60 informative workshops, 140+ exhibitors, locally-sourced organic food, live entertainment and inspirational keynote speakers, the OFC is celebrated as the foremost educational and networking event in the organic farming community.
NOFA-New Hampshire’s 8th Annual Winter Conference – Place at the Table
March 6, 2010
Rundlett Middle School, Concord, NH
The Winter Conference is the premiere gathering of New Hampshire's organic food and agriculture community: farmers, gardeners, localvores, educators, and consumers joining together. Over 40 workshops, including some led by teens and programs for Youth and Children.
Organic Growers School 17th Annual Spring Conference
March 6 – 7, 2010
University of North Carolina, Asheville, NC
Organic Growers School hosts an intensive day of learning and networking for organic growers of all levels. Through an impressive array of classes (over 120 in 2009), hands-on workshops, a kids program, and both commercial and informational exhibits, the Spring conference reaches a rapidly growing number of participants, from home gardeners to professional farmers. In 2009, over 1,300 people from over 17 different states and Canada attended the conference. Attendees will be able to enjoy the educational offerings at our event, as well as engage in learning opportunities in downtown Asheville and surrounding locations.
Georgia Organics’ 13th Annual Conference - Reclaiming Agriculture
March 19 – 20, 2010
The annual Georgia Organics conference is the largest event dedicated to sustainable food and farms in Georgia. In its 13th year, attendance grows every year, a direct result of the exploding interest in local food systems and organic agriculture. The two-day conference includes educational sessions, farm and food tours, the southeast's largest Trade Show dedicated to sustainable agriculture and culminates with the Farmers Feast on Saturday night. Keynote address from Slow Food’s Carlo Petrini.
Top of Page
- Katie Lavin, Wholesale Sales Manager
Soup for the Winter Blahs
This is one of my favorite soups. I really appreciate its warmth and simplicity when I am tired, stressed, or run down. It comes together quickly, pretty much in the same time it takes to open a can of soup. You can use whatever greens you have on hand, but I especially like collards or kale. Serves 4, but is easily doubled or halved.
Sausage Kale Soup
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, cut up in 1 inch chunks
2 cups or so of chicken broth (add water for a thinner, less salty soup)
1 can white cannellini beans, drained (about 1 ½ cups)
At least one head of garlic (6-10 cloves), chopped coarsely, but you should probably use more
6 or so cups of chopped greens
Grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes to pass at the table
Sauté the sausage in a soup pot (use a little oil if you are using turkey sausage). When it is browned, remove from pot and drain meat on a paper towel. Add your chicken broth and greens to the empty pot. Cover. Bring to a boil and cook the greens until tender, about 5-10 minutes depending on the type of greens used and how tender you like them. Bring the heat down to low, and add your white beans, cooked sausage, and garlic to the pot and continue cooking until everything is warmed through (You may opt to add the garlic after the soup is removed from the heat and cooled a bit if you are feeling that you need garlic’s raw, anti-bacterial properties in your life).
Add cheese and red pepper flakes. Eat with garlic bread. Kiss one of your dining partners who are also eating lots of garlic and laugh a lot. Don’t you feel better?
• Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
• Omit sausage and increase amount of white beans.
• Add leftover vegetables, like chopped boiled potatoes or roasted roots, near the end of cooking when you add the beans.