Greetings from Tom
Meet the Sales Staff!
Notes from The Fields
- Low Tunnels and the de-hybridization of hybrid root stock
Farmer Paul's Row
- Is a Winter Market For You?
Greetings From Tom
Happy New Year everyone! With a challenging growing season behind us, I for one am looking forward to the spring of 2010 with a lot of excitement about it being the best year ever. One can always hope. The continued interest in locally grown and organic food has continued to grow quite a bit in Vermont and in most other places that I have heard about this last year, despite the tough economic times felt by many. For those of you that were new to gardening or farming in 2009, do not lose hope if you had a rough year. Your family and community stills needs you to grow food for them, in both good years or bad. So, enjoy your High Mowing catalog as you dream and plan for another spring.
President & Founder
Meet the Sales Staff!
Commercial Grower Sales and Customer Service
My wife Kate and I farm two and a half acres with 2,000 square feet of greenhouses. We have been at the Montpelier farmer’s market since 2000, but also have a small CSA and some wholesale accounts. I currently sit on the review board for Vermont’s organic certifying agency, VOF. This is my third 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 14 years ago when he was so excited about seeds he couldn’t sit down when he would talk about them. His enthusiasm is contagious, and I have been enjoying learning more about seed production and breeding. On my farm we produce a broad range of crops, but I have a special place for potatoes; the plants are so beautiful and the treasure hunt is a blast. I also love growing plants for people’s gardens. Growing food is a powerful thing, and it’s a great thing to share with folks.
Customer Service Representative
I have a 150 acre homestead we call Rooster Ridge Farm just up the road from High Mowing Seeds that supports my family, neighbors and other nearby farmers. An agricultural easement with the Vermont Land Trust insures that the farmland will be available in perpetuity for agricultural purposes. High Mowing Seeds uses most of the fields to grow crops for seed production and vegetable trials while hay is cut and bailed for cows on a neighbor’s farm. I met Tom Stearns eleven years ago when he personally delivered several pounds of Roy’s Calais Flint Corn to the farm that we grew for winter chicken feed. Our farm also supports our family with wonderful food all year round - we make about seven gallons of maple syrup each spring and plant a variety of annual vegetables in two greenhouses and our gardens. We enjoy blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and elderberries every summer and the abundance of wild apple trees satisfy our fall apple needs with cider and applesauce. Chickens and turkeys supply us with fresh eggs and meat. We grow our own Thanksgiving dinner! I have been involved with farmers markets for 15 years, helping to start the Wolcott Homestead Market and the Hardwick Farmers’ Market where I once sold a variety of vegetables, plants and my famous Root Beer Floats made from homemade ice cream and root beer. I now manage both the Stowe and Waitsfield Farmers’ Market, which are just two of Vermont’s premier markets. My favorite thing to grow is basil, I love the anise flavor in summer salads and pesto.
Retail Sales Manager
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!
Office Manager / Customer Service Representative
I 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).
R&D Trials Coordinator / Sales and Marketing Associate
I 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 at The Woodman Research Farm 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 15 year old black lab. Have a comment or suggestion; feel free to give me a call!
Wholesale Sales Manager
I have been living in Vermont for the past two years but it definitely feels like home. I grew up in Syracuse, New York, and later attended Castleton State College in Vermont. After college I moved to Arcata, California for a few years and traveled around the West Coast by foot, bicycle, and other people’s cars. 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 five years at Peacework Farm, a 300-member CSA outside of Rochester, NY. I moved back to Vermont in January 2008, and I feel lucky to have landed at High Mowing Organic Seeds where I hold the position as Wholesale Sales Manager, act as our Donation Coordinator, and contribute to The Seed Bin. This past season I was delighted to have produced several types of dry beans in my garden for the first time. I love looking at them in their jars, all those neat little nuggets of protein. When I am not gazing adoringly at my dry beans or working at High Mowing, I might be found making soup, knitting ugly leg warmers, skiing, and learning some new tricks. Check out the Katie’s Kitchen section in our E-Newsletter for some of my newest favorite recipes.
Commercial Grower Sales and Customer Service
From managing an herb, spice and vegetable farm in Jamaica West Indies to working on numerous farms in Northern CA and VT., I’ve 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 now grown 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 daughter, now a chef caters with our farm's produce as well as other farm's bounty, and we offer services for special events from our farm in Wolcott. Our farm stand was featured on the 2008 High Mowing catalog cover. I have worked at High Mowing for the past five winters, helping customers over the phone and meeting you at trade shows. My work at High Mowing parallels my mission and goals for a secure, safe, global, food supply, starting at the seed level. Some of my favorite items to grow are my signature salad mix which changes weekly and garlic which I have been growing for 28 years! In my free time in the winter I enjoy playing ice hockey, cross county skiing and snow shoeing.
Customer Service Representative
I grew up in the Northeast Kingdom, in Lyndonville, VT where my family had a garden that fed us year round and we often raised our own beef. I became really interested in farming and the local food movement in 2006, while living in New Mexico, after being informed that it would take less than a week for Santa Fe to run out of food because such a large percentage of food was shipped in from out of state. I returned to Vermont shortly after this and I just finished my third season working at Foote Brook Farm in Johnson, VT where I manage a busy farmstand as well as put some time in working in the fields and greenhouses. I love cooking and have become very aggressive about learning to preserve food. Last winter, I apprenticed at Three Stone Hearth, a “community supported kitchen,” in Berkeley, CA, where I learned about the Weston A. Price diet and how to make prepared foods in large quantities, focusing in fermented foods. My recent favorite vegetables are spinach (which my partner is growing in a cold frame winter tunnel) and broccoli, though I am a sucker for cabbage sautéed with garlic in a cast iron pan with cultured butter.
Customer Service Representative
Growing up in VT, I knew this was the place I wanted to raise my kids. I left for a little while to work for Food Not Bombs in Boston. This started my twenty or so years of commitment to food and social justice issues. This is the foundation for my passion about plants. I have worked identifying & wildcrafting and growing medicinal plants , creating an herbal product line, teaching community classes on herbalism and as a Doula. I have worked for Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center and the Sage Mtn Free Herbal Clinic. I also currently work for Food Works at Two Rivers Center, facilitating a Kids Herb Camp (in our 8th year!) during our warmer months. One thing I know about living in this beautiful place is one must wear many hats for survival. I am really excited to add High Mowing to that list, as I believe local farming is the future of our society. I enjoy my gardening business because the flowers I tend are always so generous in their quiet and gorgeous way. I do look forward to expanding my scope and learning from the brilliant folks that make up High Mowing. I grow a great bounty of blueberries, garlic and kale at my cold mountain hollow home.
Notes From The Fields
- Heather Jerrett, Research & Development Trials Manager
I recently attended the
New England Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Manchester, NH. This conference is put together by extension agents from New England and New York. I feel like this is one of the more technical and professional conferences out there. It usually has a very conventional feel to it but this year I would say organic production was a huge component to this year’s conference and many of our customers were in attendance. There were many mini-seminars as well as farmer to farmer discussions.
One aspect that I found to be the highlight of the conference was
winter crop production in high tunnels and the use of low tunnels. As winter markets become more and more popular in the Northeast and as seasons are becoming warmer folks are using this as a way to extend their sales season and also coming up with new and innovative ways to extend their growing season.
High tunnels have been around for a while and folks like Pete Johnson and Seth Jacobs have been perfecting the winter greens production with these in mind.
Low tunnels or quick hoops are now beginning to become a norm for overwintering in cool climates. These are not your typical low tunnels using 9 gage wire to support row cover or plastic but actually mini hoop houses that cover your beds at the end of the season. You can use, pvc electrical conduit if you do not have a snow load or are using for insect protection in summer, but you will need a heavier electrical metal conduit for a snow load so that the hoops do not bend. Half inch EMT conduit has been noted to be sufficient for this use and can easily be inserted into the soil securely. You can cover the metal hoops with plastic while putting row cover on top of your crops below the tunnel for ultimate winter protection. For more information on low tunnel use, read this article from Mother Earth News.
Another interesting point taken at the conference was in one of the farmer to farmer talks. The discussion covered many aspects of varieties and seed saving but there was a bit of discussion about
organic tomato root stock and de-hybridizing hybrids like Maxifort. We have been very interested in offering an organic tomato root stock but have had little success. Even the major hybrids available like Maxifort and Beaufort have only recently become available in the US. Both of these have been developed by De’Ruiter Seed Company based in Holland. The limited demand the US offers for this type of seed held them back from releasing in the US for some time. They can now be found in the US but are still not wide spread and there is little to no interest in producing an organic root stock by any of our top breeders due to the very small demand.
The topic of
de-hybridization of hybrid root stock was also discussed. The process of de-hybridizing a hybrid tomato usually takes 8 generations. In a cool climate like the Northeast that means 8 years. The process involves saving seed of the hybrid variety in the first year - you would want to pick your best plants. The seed from this is considered your F2 generation. The second growing season you would grow out this seed. This population, in theory segregates into 16 phenotypes or expressed combinations of genes. Two sets of four from each parent. With this in mind you will want to make sure you grow enough plants to ensure you get what you need in the F2 generation of plants. Based on simple probability, out of 16 plants there is a 6% chance you will get the one combination you want. From this you can decide on how many plants you are willing to grow to ensure the desired outcome. From this F2 generation you will want to save seed from the plant that most closely resembles your desired outcome, whether it be identical in looks, flavor, yield or disease resistance etc. Save this seed and grow it out again for your F3 generation and so on. Sounds pretty easy, huh? If you're interested in learning more, here's a great article about
Tomato Gene Segregation After a Cross.
The one aspect that is most difficult is the selection process. It is easy to select for flavor or size, even yield can be done relatively easy on the farm. But when selecting for more than one attribute or an ‘invisible’ quality like disease resistance when disease is not present can become more difficult. Traditional breeding companies still select in the field but also use gene markers which show which plants have crossed the desired way and then are able to select from this population of plants knowing the ‘invisible’ quality will still be present.
In the case of
de-hybridizing root stock, the process is more involved than a typical tomato. Root stock in general is very vigorous. If you have ever grown out a Maxifort or Beaufort alone one would have noticed it is a very vigorous vine that does not set fruit easily. It can easily be called monstrous. You would need to have a long growing season in order to set and ripen fruit. With our short growing seasons in the Northeast you would have to do this in a heated greenhouse or possibly a tunnel adding extreme costs to your project. Also many of the desired attributes of root stock would be hard to select and measure. You would need to devise a way to study root growth, nutrient uptake, tolerance to salts, disease resistance and overall acceptability of the graft.
If anyone out there has comments, questions or input about low tunnels, the de-hybridization process or root stock, feel free to e-mail me.
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Farmer Paul's Row
- Paul Betz, High Mowing Seeds' Sales Associate
Is A Winter Market For You?
Winter markets are flourishing, and the offerings are a lot more diverse than just root crops. Fermented vegetables, farm processed frozen and prepared foods, and winter greens from a greenhouse are all common. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of growers to have the variety that people are looking for in the off season. The chance to spread the income gained from growing vegetables across the year has a definite appeal, and the potential for strong earnings are high as well. There’s a reduced amount of producers, and customers are excited about and embracing the winter markets. The market that I attend in the summer, Montpelier Farmer's Market, meets twice monthly from December to April. The customers are there, as are high quality vendors with an impressive palette of offerings. In our area, lots of growers have increased their plantings of storage crops and have made cooler and cellar space improvements as a way of meeting this demand. For many growers, the opportunity to command a higher price during the winter has allowed them to cut back during the summer and spend more time with family or on other projects. There are also a few growers who primarily market only in the winter, avoiding the summer crush of weekly harvest schedules and market pressure. For them, a winter market fits with their goals and needs, and allows them to farm the way they want to farm.
When we started farming, we knew that if we were to be financially successful, we would have to retail most of what we grew. During the summer, that was easy. We have a great market that we go to where we can sell most of what we bring. But as soon as the season was over, our access to retail markets was over as well. There were some good outlets for wholesale in the area, but they were taken by some of the more senior growers, and not really available to us. We decided our business plan needed to fully depend on summer sales, and over the years we refined our planting schedule to have enough to last through the season and then be sold out. It works for us, and I have always liked the idea of a rest during the winter. We work hard all summer, and really enjoy the time off from going to market every week. Now our market happens twice a month all winter. What’s a farmer to do?
We have chosen, at least for now, to not attend the winter market. I have to admit, adding a few earning days would help take some of the pressure off the summer season, and some extra folding money is a hard thing to resist. All of our CSA money goes towards operating costs on the farm. We have 27 sale days at market to make our “nut” for the winter, and it gets pretty lean for us in the late winter. But for us, there would be lots of costs to adding on to our retail season.
Getting off our hill in the van would be a challenge; there would be some serious white knuckles getting to a hard road. We also have a three season barn, and the packing and washing would be difficult in our current situation. Even if we could get everything washed in the fall, it’s still cold in the barn for the repacking and inspecting that would have to be done. Add in the fact that Kate and I have jobs in the winter, and suddenly our lives are busy again, even without the farm. I have always valued the time off from the farm as way to clear my head and do some recovering from the previous season. There are greenhouses to clean, tools to repair, and excitement to build for the upcoming march, which gets closer every day. I could get better tires for the van and close in and heat the barn, but I think I really need the break.
I do think that the prospect of local food being available year round is a good thing. It speaks to our concerns about what we are eating and the importance of supporting the businesses that produce that food. I plan on going to some markets this winter, but for now I will be on the other side of the table.
All my best
Current EventsLook 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.
NOFA-Massachusetts 23rd annual winter conference
January 16th, 2010
Worcester Technical High School, Worcester, MA
Over 40 workshops on organic farming, gardening, landscaping, and sustainable living. Lively exhibit area, NOFA/Mass Annual Meeting, great children and teens program, potluck lunch! Joel Salatin to present keynote speech and all day seminar “Introducing Livestock to your Farm”
ECO FARM Ecological Farming Association's 29th annual Ecological Farming Conference
January 20-23, 2010
Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA
For three decades, EcoFarm’s flagship event has brought food system stakeholders together for education, networking and celebration. Over 60 workshops featuring prominent speakers on the latest advances in agricultural techniques, marketing strategies, research and other important food system issues, along with organic meals and lively entertainment.
SSAWG Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's 19th Annual Conference - Practical Tools & Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms
January 20-23, 2010
Chattanooga Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN
The general conference, held on Friday and Saturday, offers eight tracks of highly essential conference sessions covering: organic and sustainable production of vegetables, flowers, seeds, honey, poultry, hogs and beef; direct marketing strategies such as farmer’s markets and CSAs; successful farm stories; community food systems; and new farm programs for sustainable farmers— a broad range of offerings for start-ups and seasoned producers alike. In addition to the sessions and networking opportunities, the conference offers field trips, a trade show, silent auction, video show, Taste of Tennessee dinner and more. Check out website for more info about pre and post-conferences.
NOFA-NY Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York's 28th annual Winter Conference - Circles of Caring
January 22-24, 2010
Saratoga Hilton & Conference Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
A weekend event with over 80 workshops, and over 75 exhibitors expected at our Organic Tradeshow and Marketplace. The 2009 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.
PASA Pennsylvannia Association of Sustainable Agriculture's 19th Annual Winter Conference - Farming for the Future
February 4-6, 2010
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 2,000 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.
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.
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- Katie Lavin, Wholesale Sales Manager
Fresh Winter Salad
I recently found some forgotten kohlrabi and turnips at the back of the refrigerator, still as crisp as the day several months ago that they made it in there. I love that about storage vegetables; they are so forgiving. Here is one of my favorite salads, always different depending on the ingredients I have to work with. If the beets are already cooked, this is a cinch to throw together. This amount serves 6-8 people and can easily be double to feed a crowd. Make a few hours before you eat to let the flavors meld.
3 cups cubed cooked beets, 1 inch pieces
3 cups cubed raw peeled kohlrabi, 1 inch pieces
2 cups chopped apples, 1 inch pieces
Optional: a shredded carrot? ½ cup of matchstick-sliced turnips? Raisins? Sunflower shoots?
Dressing (all of these ingredients are “to taste”, meaning add more yogurt if you want it creamier, more cinnamon for more cinnamon flavor, etc):
¾ cup of plain yogurt (or use part mayonnaise)
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix all of the dressing ingredients together. Add to your beets, kohlrabi, and apples (and any other creative extras besides the sunflower shoots). Watch it turn a delightful shade of fuschia. Adjust your dressing ingredients to make the salad taste the way you want. Sprinkle the top of your finished salad with a generous handful or two of sunflower shoots and admire your creation. Serve and enjoy!