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High Mowing Organic Seeds
High Mowing Organic Seeds High Mowing Organic Seeds

The Seed Bin- January 2009

Winter Gathering 2009

Notes from Tom Stearns
Tom Stearns
A new year makes me think both about what we have achieved and what we still have to do. In the organic and healthy food system movement there is a lot in both categories. In 2008, we saw many more people realize that supporting local and organic farms was the way to go for many different reasons. Some people came to this awareness because of food safety scares, some because of food prices. For others it was the long term negative environmental effect of industrial production and long distance transportation. And finally, for many, in light of the economic collapse, it just makes more sense to invest in your neighbors and each other, rather than some distant corporation. I believe that all of these trends will only continue in 2009. For those of us who farm and supply the seeds, compost, supplies and everything else that is needed for healthy food systems, we are being called upon in a bigger way than ever before. We must realize our role as educators because there are millions more who have just become students. We must bring our heart, heads and hands to this task and not forget that all three matter. Our leadership on local levels will inspire leadership on national levels, and together we will accomplish much.  As the winter surrounds us up here at High Mowing, we are warmed by the thoughts of all of you, busily looking through your seed catalogs, dreaming of what 2009 will be like for you.

Dream big and happy new year!
Tom Stearns

CSS Update
Our community supported seeds program was a huge success - thanks to all who participated! The nearly one hundred "shares" (credits to be applied towards seed purchases in 2009) provided crucial financing to get us through the lean months before seed orders start coming in full force. In return, we gave our customers - our seed shareholders - collectively almost $5,000 off of seed for 2009 (each shareholder received 10% off the value of the share) - a worthwhile savings. CSS share amounts ranged from $5,500 to $50.  Again, thanks to all who helped make this kick-off year such a success.  If you're interested in the community supported seeds program (based on the community supported agriculture model adopted by many of our customers), feel free to contact us, or stay tuned for more information in October 2009.

Meet the Sales Staff

We believe the most valuable people to help our customers are those who are growers and gardeners just like you. Below is a listing of our 2009 representatives you may
speak with on the phone, at conferences, workshops, and markets.

Paul Betz
Commercial Grower Sales and Customer Service

Paul BetzMy wife Kate and I farm two and a half acres with 3,000 square feet of greenhouses. We have been at the Montpelier farmer’s market since 2000 but also diversify with a CSA and some wholesaling. I currently sit on the review board for Vermont’s organic certifying agency, VOF. This is my second year in the call center at High Mowing, and I have been a dedicated customer for many years and have even grown a few seed crops in the past. I first met Tom 12 years ago when he was so excited about seeds he couldn’t sit down when he would talk about them. His enthusiasm has been contagious. In my free time I DJ a classic country and Grateful Dead show on WGDR, 91.1 fm, or you can stream it at wgdr.org. I especially enjoy growing potatoes and winter squash:  Potatoes for the thrill of being the first person to lay eyes on them, and of course because I love to eat them. Winter squash because they are beautiful and the harvest is so satisfying. I look forward to helping our customers have a successful season!

Gwenael Engelskirchen
Retail Sales Manager

Gwenael E.New to Vermont, though not a flatlander – having grown up in Mt. Shasta, CA under the shadow of a 14,162 ft peak!  Before moving to Vermont I lived in New Paltz, NY, where I spent two and a half years managing a 6-acre vegetable CSA and educational farm. Over the past several years I have worked on farms of varying scales and specialties on both the east and west coasts – from a 3-acre seed-saving garden to a 2-acre non-profit urban farm to a 200-acre veggie, fruit and nut farm. Although my agricultural roots are in veggie production, I also love working with livestock.  I have raised laying hens, sheep and hope to have a milking cow one day. I love working at High Mowing Organic Seeds for the connection it provides to the thriving Vermont agriculture community. My favorite vegetables to grow are Japanese turnips, because they are fun to pluck from the soil and delicious to eat!  

Kerri Hansen
Office Manager / Customer Service Representative

Kerri hansenI was born in Long Island and have spent time in both Maryland and California until I moved to beautiful Vermont about 15 years ago. I feel so fortunate to be living in such a beautiful state, in a sweet, partially solar powered home and now working for a company doing such good and important work. I returned to college after raising my beautiful daughter, Sarah, who now lives in Florida. I have an Associates degree in Landscape Design and Horticultural Sciences from VT Technical College which gave me a critical eye when thinking about the way outdoor spaces are used and combining art and plants! I then went on to complete my Bachelors degree in Wellness & Alternative Medicine at Johnson State College. For literally decades I have been interested in organic agriculture, alternative energy sources and alternative ways of healing. I have had many gardens throughout my life and love most of all the eggplant for its beautiful colors and the tasty recipes it is used in. I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE flowers of all kinds. But my real passion is medicinal plants. It is the combination of artistic design of herbal knot gardens and healing qualities of the plants that my green thumb is especially in tuned with. When I am not at High Mowing, I enjoy cooking yummy meals, fooling around with watercolors, singing, and listening to music (“live” especially).

Heather Jerrett
R&D Trials Coordinator, Sales and Marketing Associate

Heather JerretI have been with High Mowing for the past six years. I started out pulling weeds, saving seeds and packing orders. We have come a long way and now I organize and manage our trial and display gardens as well as work with growers, extension, and breeders to help bring new and exciting varieties to the pages of our catalog. As an undergraduate at UNH, Durham I spent time working on one of the research farms and in the greenhouses, and now work alongside a number of my former mentors who were then baffled at my interest in organic agriculture.  I have spent a number of summers on small organic and biodynamic farms in VT, and have had my own gardening business in Burlington, VT.  My favorite crops to grow are onions and potatoes. I am a strong supporter of local food, love cooking and taking walks with Ella, my 14 year old black lab. Have a comment or suggestion, feel free to give me a call!

Katie Lavin
Wholesale Sales Manager

Katie LavinI grew up in Central New York, went to college in Vermont, and lived in Arcata, California for a few years. In 2003, I decided that I wanted to learn how to grow food, and planted myself back in New York, where I grew vegetables for 5 years at Peacework Farm, a 300-member CSA outside of Rochester, NY. I moved back to Vermont last January, and I feel lucky to have landed at High Mowing Organic Seeds. Although I love growing and eating most vegetables, I have a profound appreciation for beets. Beets appear quickly in the spring, are great roasted, pureed, and steamed, keep well all winter without a lot of fuss, and with those tender tops, are a two-for-one vegetable. Best of all, beets are humble but not shy, and they share their vibrant hue with all they come in contact with. When I am not exalting the virtue of the beet or managing the High Mowing Seed Rack and Donation Program, I might be found making soup, playing the mandolin, knitting ugly hats, skiing, daydreaming about spring, and learning some new tricks. Check out my Localvore section in our E-Newsletter for some of my newest favorite recipes.

Sara Schlosser
Commercial Grower Sales and Customer Service

Sara SchlosserFrom managing an herb, spice and vegetable farm in Jamaica West Indies to running a farm crew in Northern CA. I have been growing for markets over 25 years and hold a BS from Antioch College with a concentration in Agriculture.  Along with my husband and two children, we have built a successful market farm in Wolcott, VT.  We produce,
grow and market vegetables, flowers and maple syrup selling to local chefs and at the Stowe Farmer’s Market. Our farm stand was featured on the 2008 High Mowing catalog cover. I have known Tom and his family for many years and have seen High Mowing grow since its infancy and have worked at High Mowing for the past four winters, helping customers over the phone and meeting you at trade shows. My work at High Mowing parallels my mission and goals for securing a safe global food supply, starting at the seed level. My favorite item to grow is my signature salad mix. In my free time I enjoy watching and playing ice hockey!

Lindsey Scott
Customer Service Representative

Lindsey ScottI am a native Vermonter that loves to travel. I have worked both full and part time with High Mowing Seeds over the last three years juggling other agriculture jobs like Riverside Organic Farm, waiting tables at Claire’s, where we offer locally grown produce, and escaping to warm and tropical destinations like Tanzania where I have attempted to introduce sustainable ag practices. I love being barefoot in the gardens and feel grateful for the skills I have learned from saving seeds to planting them and harvesting buxom organic veggies. I love transplanting onions, harvesting spears of asparagus and wielding my knife to collect broccoli, drying fresh cut herbs and being part of feeding my community. Pulling carrots and digging potatoes is like unburying hidden treasure and I get a kick out of finding twisted together carrots and potatoes with funny knobs and noses.I live in a twelve sided round house in the middle of nowhere where I enjoy crafting jewelry, hiking to the nearby waterfalls, reading, writing about my adventures, shoveling the constant dumping of snow out of my yard, fermenting food from the gardens and practicing my West African Dance moves. My dog Bran is my constant companion and she loves coming to the office with me. High Mowing has taught me so much and I am thankful for all that we do here!

Megen Toaldo
Assistant Manager of Trials, Sales and Customer Service

Megen ToaldoNative to the New Jersey shore, I have resided in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont since 1999. I have been employed by several organic farms over the years, including three years at Riverside Farm in East Hardwick, VT and now take on the day to day operations of the trials at High Mowing...and I couldn't have found a better niche!  My
favorite veggies to grow are Broccoli and Kale, and they can often be found on my dinner plate as well. I am an artist at heart. I also enjoy snowboarding, back country skiing and learning to play my guitar. I look forward to hearing from you.

Field Notes from Heather
While our farm is put to rest for the winter, we are still very busy making plans and gathering information to prepare for next season. During the winter months we field hundreds of calls about varieties, cultural methods, pest and disease, use and storage. In the winter months Paul will offer a grower’s perspective of particular crops that are in season with your winter seeding schedule. He will give his account of his favorite varieties, cultural methods, and more. While there are many sources out there we feel our customers are the best resource we have, and we would like to invite you to share your tips. Tips will be posted on our website as a resource.

Onion Tips for Growers and Gardeners
Most everyone loves onions. They are a big crop for me, and I spend a fair amount of time and energy producing plants for sale and for the farm. My favorite yellow storage varieties are Cortland F1, Mustang F1, Prince F1 and Copra F1, in this order. Only Cortland F1 and Mustang F1 are available as organic seed. I also grow red onions and have always grown Mars F1 which remains one of my standards, being sweet and early. This past year I also grew organic Red Wing F1 and had good success. It was a bit longer to mature
, but had really strong tops and could be used as a bunching onion too when bulbs were in mid-growth. For sweet onions I choose Alisa Craig and Walla Walla.

Growing OnionsWe begin our planting in the greenhouse in late march, and transplant in mid to late May. Onions will germinate at temperatures as low as 50º F, but the warmer it is the faster they will pop. Their optimal range is 75º F to 85º F. I try to barely cover the seeds with soil, so any sun we get will warm the top of the soil. Lots of growers plant the seeds in a 1020 flat filled with soil, and then transplant out the onions individually in the spring. The advantage of doing it this way is not much room is used to produce a lot of plants. It costs a fair amount to heat a greenhouse where we are in March, and it can be painful to watch empty flats for the time it takes for the seedlings to emerge. 

I plant all my storage onions in a 96 cell flat. I put two or three seeds in each cell, and then when I transplant them I put them out together. If I am spacing two plants at 8”, it is the same as 1 plant every 4”. They grow away from each other, and make good sized onions. While it does cost me more money to produce them this way, it saves me a lot of labor in the spring when time can be really tight. I used to battle onion maggot, and I would spray a predatory nematode on my onions in the field as a control. When I went to the plug system, I could water in the nematodes right in the plugs in the greenhouse, and then plant them out in the field, which was a lot easier.

I still plant my sweet onions as singles because they grow to such a large size and need the full 8” spacing per bulb, and I also start them in cells. I use a 128 tray, with one seed per cell. That size allows enough soil to grow a healthy seedling, and they are pretty big when it comes to transplanting time. With the help of my rolling dibbler, doing everything by hand, three of us can plant 6,000 onions in four hours. Onions do not compete with weeds very well, so I keep them as clean as I can. The spacing that I use allows me to hoe out pretty close to the plants and keeps hand weeding to a minimum.

In late summer, after the onions have finished bulbing, the tops will start to die back and fall over. Sometimes I have to walk the patch and help them by bending the tops over with my foot. This encourages them to finish up so I can get them out of the filed and into the greenhouse where I do my final curing. I spread them out on my benches so they can dry down, then I top them and put them into bins. I store them in bins in my cooler at 38°F, ideally you want temperatures slightly above 32°F with low humidity for best storage.

Share your tips with other High Mowing growers and gardeners!

If you have any great tips to share about onions email us and we will list them on our website for others to read and learn from.

Tips to include in your email:

·    Farm Name, City, State
·    Favorite onion varieties
·    Onion growers tip
·    Pest and disease tip for onions
·    Retail marketing tips for onions
·    Cooking or serving tip, favorite recipes highlighting onions
·    Storage tips

Send e-mails to: questions "at" highmowingseeds.com

Notes from Farmer Paul
Paul Betz
Sharpening My Pencil:  Record Keeping Start Up

I have written articles in the past about selling at farmers market. Presentation and attitude go a long way to helping attract new customers and keeping regular ones. Being able to sell what you grow is a big piece of a successful farm. The next step in maintaining profitability is to know what your costs are.

I have a confession to make.

I should be keeping better records. I feel like I say this to myself with some regularity, and I am probably right. I operate from the intuition based side of farming. I have always kept notes that satisfy the requirements of my organic certification, but not a whole lot else. It works, and I lead a generally satisfied life, but it is time for a change.

There are two big questions to ask yourself before you start collecting data. Why do I care, and what is the point. It is important to ask these questions, because it serves no one to be writing down the wrong things. It is really important to look at very specific aspects of what you want to track.

My crop planning is based largely on how much I remembered selling from last year, and while I have a good sense of what I can reasonably sell, I have not really looked hard at it for while. About five years ago I took my first stab at looking at the profit side by writing down three numbers around my marketing. I wrote down how much of any crop went to market, how much came back, and what price I got. It was pretty simple, and it was a good start at figuring out what the demand was for a crop, and if it really sold as much as I thought. That worked for a while, and was the extent of my data collection. So what now?

Paul working on his spreadsheetsI am becoming more and more interested in how much net profit each crop brings to the farm. I have always viewed my set up at the market as a palette, and each crop is a color. Because we are so diversified, I know it all balances out, but I do not really know how. Vegetable plants are a good example. They account for about 20% of my gross, and I love growing them. The cash they provide comes at a good time, and the bulk of the labor happens when there is not that much opportunity to be on my fields anyway. But a big piece of my off farm inputs go towards producing them. The expense of potting soil, seeds, flats, propane and labor are in every plant I sell. If I max out the greenhouses I have, how long will it take to pay off another one? Will it require more labor? Going to another market? If the net is not really high, is it worth all the extra expense and stress? I have always felt like they are a money maker, but I really have no real proof.

This year I want to look at the profitability of a few main crops. I am going to pick 5 to start.  My cost of production comes first. I will be recording the cost of seed, time required to prep the bed, seed, weed, harvest and prep for market. My hope is that getting these numbers will be as easy as having a pad of paper and a watch in the truck. Once I have the totals for harvest and sales over a few weeks, I can get a better idea about where a crop stands in my palette. When these numbers are crunched, I will average it all out to yield and cost by the row foot so I can have a standard way comparing crops.

The other side of record keeping is for production. Once you have good solid figures for your demand and yield, you can use those numbers for planning your plantings and
keeping them all straight. Using your yield per row foot, it becomes easy to plan how much of any crop you will really need.

While I have always been a pen and paper sort of person, the computer does have a role. There are lots of growers who use spread sheets as a way of keeping it all straight. Using Excel allows you to do more with the info you collect than I could go into here. I recently went to a workshop where several growers presented their custom sheets for keeping track of all aspects of their farms, and I was truly inspired. The programs allowed the possibility of customizing for different farms and markets, and generated the results in a form that was easy to understand and use by someone other than the farmer. One of the more comprehensive ones was by Dan Kaplan of Brookfield Farm in Amherst MA. He manages a 530 member CSA with two distribution sites and keeps his members happy for 24 weeks in a row. He makes his system available to farmers for a marginal fee.

I will make a follow-up article at the end of the season and talk about what I learned on my farm. I am really excited about the prospect of sharpening up my pencil and learning more about this piece of my operation. Enjoy the quiet before the storm.

Take good care,

Research Report
Getting Seed Up to Speed!  - Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith Ph.D

Some is prickly, some is smooth, either oval or fully round. Some is papery thin and fragile, some is hard and tough. Some is so small you’d think it dust you just swept up
from under the rug. Some is so dusty it mostly IS the dust you would sweep up from under the rug. Much of it is brown. But some is pure creamy white. Some is glossy jet
black. Some is buff-colored, mustard-yellow, various shades of green, or, if you happen to be a dry bean, nearly any earthy color you can imagine. This is seed, of course.

And if you happen to be one of those odd folks who really just like seed – like the look, the feel, the sounds of it – like the oddity of the shapes and the colors and the many
textures. If you like taking a handful in your palm and studying it – attempting to assess that elusive aspect we call “quality” – a measure of the maturity and the purity of
the seed – this is your season.

Cleaning SeedsAnd believe me it is not for everyone. It may sound like a party, but it is actually a very dusty and very finicky job. A job that takes a whole lot of patience and a whole lot of making expensive judgment calls – because  you never clean out just the bad things, you always take a cut of good stuff at the same time. So you are constantly weighing fractions of seed mixed with not-seed (or weed seed) - deciding how much is too much - trying to get it as clean as you possibly can and simultaneously trying not to throw away more than you possibly need to. And constantly thinking of how much each ounce is worth – and how much you are proposing to throw in the compost. So no, not a job for the squeamish.  But, if you happen to be one of those nut-cases who like it anyhow, you’re in your element right now. Because now is the time when the artistry of it all
starts to come in.

By this time we have cleaned all the easy seed. The “easy” seed typically starts with the larger seed – your corn, beans, peas, squashes, etc. These are so big and heavy that it is usually easy to blow away all the lighter weed seed and chaff. And then you just have to deal with separating out the rocks. Hopefully not too many. And then there are the medium-hard clean-up jobs – the pepper and tomato seeds of the world, the round brassica seeds, the other various mid-size seeds that can usually be cleaned up with a few passes through shakers and blowers and multiple screens. 

And then you get to the artisan seed… the stuff that will make you a nut-case if you did not already start out that way. This is usually the very smallest seed. Much of it more finicky in the first place than larger seed, requiring either time or temperature shifts to let it break dormancy. And then it is usually mixed with other small seed, or chaff, all of which must be separated out, and, as you can imagine, small seeds do not separate cleanly away from one another in simple ways. We do much shaking and blowing. And then we employ our most exquisite tool – the gravity table. “The table” shakes and blows all at once in just such a way that it can separate away seeds that are identical in every way, except for weight – i.e. density – which is a measure of how much life is left in a seed. A heavy seed has new life in it – an embryo and food for that embryo – while a light seed is empty of life - has either metabolized away its stored food or else never acquired it in the first place –i.e. never “matured” on the plant.

And so that is where we are at folks. Trying to work our magic on the lots that have yet eluded us. The lots that required time in the freezer, and then took several cleanings before they passed their germ test. Or the ones that have yet to pass their germ test and we have to make hard decisions about how much more to try to keep cleaning them – or whether to cut losses and stop working on them. There are always the losses. And then the heartbreaks, the seeds that we really really wanted – the ones we have been working on for years – selecting and tasting and trying to grow seed of - but that did not quite mature in the field. Or that remain dormant for mysterious reasons.

And of course, there are the great joys of the season – the nice big crops of nice plump seeds that will continue to make new food for many years to come. We win some and
we lose some. It is seed cleaning season!

  Upcoming Events

T’is the season for harvesting ideas!  There is an abundant crop of farming conferences this winter season.  Look for High Mowing Organic Seeds at the following conferences and tradeshows across the nation – and even into Canada!  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, Canada’s Guelph conference, NOFA-Vermont, and the Georgia Organic conference, on topics including organic seed production, the best vegetable varieties and the inspiring model of the Hardwick food system.  See below for details. 

January 21-24, 2009
ECO FARM  Ecological Farming Association's 29th annual Ecological Farming Conference
Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA

This four day event with over 50 workshops and over 1,300 participations has been a must go to for the sustainable agriculturalists for many years. Additional features of this event are wine tastings, seed swaps, contra dancing, organic banquets and more. Operating since 1980 the ECO Farm Conference has been a tradition for organically minded growers and gardeners.

January 22-25, 2009
GUELPH  28th annual Guelph Organic Conference
O is for Opportunity
University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Canada’s premier and longest-running organic conference and tradeshow!  This 4-day event includes international speakers, seminars and introductory workshops on frontline topics including GMOs, organic production and certification, food in a changing climate, eco-villages, earth buildings, farmland protection and food security. From producer to eater, the workshops offer something for everyone. PLUS an Organic Expo and Tasting Fair with 175+ exhibitors on Saturday and Sunday, free to the public. This is your opportunity to sample and purchase a multitude of organic, fair trade products and meet the makers, movers and shakers.  The marketplace will provide attendees with the opportunity to discover new products, sample delicious food and talk directly to growers, producers and retailers about the benefits of certified organic products as well as ethical products and services.

 High Mowing Organic Seeds’ founder Tom Stearns will be leading a Friday seminar, Growing Quality Certified-Organic Vegetable Seeds, and will participate in a Friday evening panel at the Annual Guelph Public Forum on Genetic Engineering and Our Organic Future.

January 23-24, 2009
SAWG  Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's 18th Annual Conference
Practical Tools & Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms
Chattanooga Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN

Starting Friday morning, the two day general conference will offer eight tracks of conference sessions, state networking sessions, group networking sessions, a trade show, silent auction, video show, keynote by John Ikerd, agricultural economist, Taste of Tennessee dinner and the opportunity to meet and learn from peers from across the region. The conference sessions will provide sustainable production and direct marketing information for horticultural and livestock producers, enterprise management lessons, farm policy education and community food systems development information. Check out website for more info about pre and post-conferences.

January 23-25, 2009
NOFA-NY  Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York's 27th annual Winter Conference
Meals Without Wheels: Revitalizing Our Local, Organic Foodshed
Rochester Riverside Convention Center, Rochester, NY

A weekend event with over 80 workshops, and over 75 exhibitors expected at our Organic Tradeshow and Marketplace. The 2008 conference brought over 1,000 attendees and was a huge success. Additional features of the conference include all organic meals from local New York farms, nightly entertainment, round table discussions and more! Check out above link for updated information on keynote speakers and other highlights.

February 5-9, 2009
PASA  Pennsylvannia Association of Sustainable Agriculture's 18th Annual Winter Conference
Farming for the Future
Penn State Conference Center, Milheim, PA

The annual Farming for the Future conference is PASA's signature event and our main vehicle for community building. Widely regarded as the best of its kind in the East, this diverse event brings together an audience of over 1,900 farmers, processors, consumers, students, environmentalists, and business and community leaders annually to present over 85 workshops. Additional features include youth & teen programming, a babysitting program, auction, the Sustainable Trade Show and Marketplace, and conference meals featuring sustainably, organically, and regionally raised foods from over forty PASA members throughout our region.

February 14-15, 2009
NOFA-VT Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont’s Annual Winter Conference
Grow it Here! Innovations Toward Local Food Sovereignty
Vermont Technical College, Randolph, VT

This is a two day conference offering more than 60 workshops for organic farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, and consumers. The conference also features a farmers' market, NOFA Vermont's extensive book table, live music, silent auction, and the largest potluck lunches in New England! Saturday keynote will be given by Andrew Meyer, founder of The Center for Agricultural Economy, owner of Vermont Natural Coatings, a whey-based varnish company, and Vermont Soy, an organic soy drink and tofu company. Sunday keynote will be given by Eliot Coleman, farmer and author of The New Organic Grower, Four Season Harvest, and The Winter Harvest Manual. Eliot brings nearly 40 years of experience in all aspects of organic farming, including field vegetables, greenhouse vegetables, rotational grazing, and four-season production and marketing. He will also give a farmer intensive workshop session on Monday, February 16 for advanced commercial growers.

Tom Stearn’s will lead a lunch-time roundtable discussion on vegetable varieties and co-lead a workshop about the Hardwick Agricultural Revolution.

February 21-22, 2009
OEFFA  Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association's 30th Annual Conference
The Changing Climate of Agriculture
Granville, OH

OEFFA expects over 700 attendees to their 2009 conference offering nearly 50 workshops as well as locally sourced organic food, kid’s conference, childcare, trade show and Saturday night entertainment! Keynote speakers include Fred Kirschenmann, organic farmer and Leopold Center Fellow and Melinda Hemmelgarn, food sleuth and dietitian. Guest speakers include Jeff Poppen focusing on biodynamics and Marilou Suszko presenting winter cooking demos.

February 26-28, 2009
MOSES  Mid-West Organic & Sustainable Education Service's 20th annual Organic Farming Conference
La Crosse, WI 
MOSES Conference Link
An extraordinary, farmer-centered event, the Organic Farming Conference is the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. In 2008, more than 2,300 people attended, with participants traveling from 37 states and 1 foreign country. The conference is highly regarded due to its practical workshops designed to help beginning, transitional, and experienced organic farmers with over 60 workshops, food exhibit hall, child care, and entertainment. Keynote speakers include Dr. Vandana Shiva founder of Navdanya an outreach organization helping to protect biodiversity, defend farmers' rights and promote organic farming, and Dr Alan Greene, renowned pediatrician helping to educate consumers on the health benefits of organic foods in cooperation with Horizon Organic.

March 7, 2009
NOFA-NH  Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire’s Winter Conference

Concord, NH

March 20 – 21
Georgia Organics’ 12th Annual Conference
Pollinating the Good Food Movement
Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA

The annual Georgia Organics conference is the largest event dedicated to sustainable food and farms in Georgia. In its 12th 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. This year, we are thrilled to have the Farmers Feast prepared by a team of brilliant Georgia chefs, led by award-winning Anne Quatrano of Star Provisions and Bacchanalia, and Cathy Conway, Georgia Organics’ longtime chef-collaborator. Prepare for an amazing meal followed by the presentation of the Georgia Organics Land Stewardship Award, and the keynote address from Michael Pollan.

High Mowing Organic Seeds’ own Tom Stearns will be leading three workshop sessions at the Georgia Organics conference, including one on the inspiring model of the Hardwick food system.

Of special interest

The Strolling of the Heifers

Microloan Fund for New England Farmers

The Microloan Fund for New England Farmers will be accepting applications through February 7, 2009.  Loan applications for amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, for terms up to 5 years, will be accepted. For this initial pilot round of loans, applications will be limited to farms located in Vermont or in Western Massachusetts (Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin Counties) with a primary focus on small loans to small and mid-sized farms that use sustainable or organic methods (or are moving toward them), and that are marketing at least a portion of their products to local markets. Eligibility is limited to farms with 250 acres, or less, in active production, and annual gross revenue of $250,000 or less. Acceptable purposes for the loans are capital investments and other expenses that help improve efficiency or quality, or that expand production and sales; repairs necessary to maintain farm operations; short term operating needs such as inventory, supplies or labor; and emergency funds to deal with business interruptions from fire, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events.

For application information see The Carrot Project, e-mail info@thecarrotproject.org , or call Dorothy Suput at 617-666-9637

Localvore Recipes

The richness of holiday foods and the scarcity of fresh vegetables can leave a cook uninspired for cooking. Find comfort in these easy recipes made with ingredients from
your winter CSA, winter Farmer’s Market, or root cellar. Some of the root vegetables are interchangeable, so mix it up based on your preferences or availability.

Lentil Vegetable Stew

1 ½ cups dried lentils
2-4 cups canned tomatoes
3-4 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium potatoes, diced
1 turnip, diced (optional)
3-4 cups water, vegetable, or chicken stock (use more for thinner soup)
1-2 bay leaves
2-3 teaspoons curry powder, or a mixture of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne
Fresh ginger root, to taste
Tamari, to taste
Yogurt, on top

Sauté onions in a soup pan with butter or oil until soft, adding garlic towards the end of the sauté so it doesn’t burn. Add powdered spices and cook for 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add water or stock and lentils, bring to a boil, cover and lower heat; cook for 20 minutes. Add potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, optional turnip, and bay leaves and cook until vegetables and lentils are tender. Add tamari, ginger and more spices as needed.  Serve with plain yogurt.

Beet Soup

This is probably my most favorite thing that I make. It always tastes slightly different each time I do, probably because I don’t measure anything. I attempt quantification here, for you.

Equal parts beets and potatoes (1to 1 1/2 pounds each)
Two good sized carrots
½ cup of sliced parsley root (or substitute celery, parsley leaf, or 1 tbs. celery seed)
1 cup onions, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, chopped
Butter or oil
1 tbs. dried dill (or 2 tbs. fresh dill if you are so lucky)
4-6 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
Salt and pepper, as needed
Plain yogurt or sour cream, for the top

Boil scrubbed whole beets until tender, all by themselves. Drain and cool, removing skins by rubbing under cold water and cut into pieces. While beets are cooking, sauté onions in a soup pan with butter or oil until soft, adding garlic towards the end of the sauté so it doesn’t burn. Add carrots, celery root or substitution (add parsley leaf last as a garnish if using instead of adding it now), potatoes, and water or stock. Bring to a boil and cook until vegetables are tender. Add beets and add, in batches, the slightly cool mixture to a blender and process until smooth (add extra water if puree is too thick for you). Add back to pot and gently re-heat if necessary.  Serve with a generous serving of yogurt and enjoy the pretty swirl.

Potato Gratin (bake a winter squash alongside the potatoes for great meal!)

Two pounds potatoes (add some turnips if you want to)
1 onion, chopped
1-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch cooked and drained kale, collards, or spinach (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 cup or so of milk
1/2-1 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
For meat eaters: add some cooked diced ham or cooked crumpled bacon in the greens layer

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté onions and garlic in butter until soft, being careful not to burn the garlic. Put aside. Butter a large baking dish. Cut potatoes and (optional turnips) into thin, ¼ inch slices, and place a layer in the dish. Season with a little salt and pepper, add the optional cooked greens and meat, and then add another layer or two of potatoes. Mix the sautéed onions and garlic with the milk and dump over the potatoes.  Bake for at least 30 minutes. When potatoes are tender, add the optional cheese on top and bake 5-10 minutes more. Remove and let sit 10 minutes. Yum! 

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