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

The Seed Bin - January 2011

What's Happening at High Mowing?

New Blog - The Seed Hopper!
Organic Seed Racks - Need One?

Wood Boilers for Heating Greenhouses
Seed Starting Workstations - Build Your Own!

Katie's Kitchen - Soup's On!

Upcoming Food and Farm Events

What's Happening at High Mowing?

Hello growers and gardeners!
Organic Aton BasilOutside the snow is raging, and many of our neighbors are hunkering down, but at High Mowing we're ramping up! Growers from around the country are placing their orders, and we've added extra staff and extra hours (now open Sat., 9-5pm). Our sales team is headed out across the country to various conferences and tradeshows, including the Eco-Farm Conference in CA, where High Mowing president Tom Stearns is giving the keynote address on the question of whether or not a "town can be a local foodshed", using Hardwick, VT as his example. The national media has been busy as well, recommending our catalog and our products - most recently Organic Gardening Magazine listed 4 of our varieties (Midnight Zucchini, Strawberry Calendula, Aton Basil, and Finale Fennel) in their Top 20 varieties grown in their Trials Gardens last year! We're excited about the upcoming season, and look forward to meeting and having conversations with our customers! 

We’re all hopped up about our new blog: The Seed Hopper!

We are excited to introduce our new blog, The Seed Hopper! The Seed Hopper provides us a platform to share the vast knowledge of our staff  on organic gardening issues. We'll highlight new varieties, provide growing tips, tricks and resources, and post updates on the status of our current lawsuit against the use of genetically modified sugar beets.

Also, don't forget that we can be found on Facebook and Twitter !

Organic Seed Racks - Need One?

Would you like to sell organic seeds at your farm stand, natural foods store or garden center? 

High Mowing Organic Seeds offers display racks of 100% organic seed in a variety of sizes and collections from our countertop collection which holds 8 varieties, to our three panel metal spinner rack which holds 144 varieties.  Colorful photo packets with easy planting instructions on the back to promote successful gardening!

For more information about our Seed Rack program, visit our website www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-seed-rack-program or call
(802) 472-6174 x126.

Wood Boilers for Greenhouse Heating - Paul Betz, High Mowing Organic Seeds Sales Associate and owner of High Ledge Farm, VT

Greenhouses play a big role on our farm. Spring plant sales account for 20% of our gross sales, and our tomato house provides beautiful tomatoes from early July till October. Once the plant production push is over, benches come out and more tomatoes go in, onions and winter squash cure and are stored there in the fall. We had been heating from start-up till the end of May, and then turned the heat back on in mid-October. All told, our propane use was around 800 gallons annually; small for some farms but a lot for us, even with a pre-buy contract. We had been looking into a fuel switch in the winter of 2008, but the cost of reinvesting in a new heating system when we had one that worked fine seemed like a lot for us. Then, in early April 2009, we lost our house, greenhouse, barns and much farm infrastructure in a fire.

We have been rebuilding our farm for a few years now. When we looked at our heating options, we knew we didn’t want propane, and being tied to a fossil fuel and the whim of the market was becoming harder for us on a lot of different levels. We had looked at corn or pellet stoves, but the access to fuel seemed to have potential problems. We have no room to grow the corn we would need, and I have yet to find a wood pellet anywhere on the farm, but we do have lots of woods around us, so it seemed to make sense to use our on-site resources.

Outdoor wood boilers have come a long way. While some older models are heavy polluters with their particulate emissions, the new models are gassifiers, and burn clean. When the unit is at operating temperature, the only indication that it is running is some ripples of heat at the top of the stack. They are also able to capture more of the potential energy in each piece of wood. My boiler requires dry hardwood to operate, so fuel management is definitely a consideration, and should be a part of any decision to pursue this kind of a system.

The boiler heats 440 gallons of water to 185 degrees, which is then pumped underground through insulated piping. Last season, there was also a 275 gallon insulated tank in the greenhouse, which was constantly circulating in a loop with the boiler. When I initially designed the system, I wanted to have extra storage, mainly for use at night when I anticipated the greatest demand on the boiler. It turns out that the heat exchangers and boiler are pretty well matched, and I plan on taking the extra tank out this spring. From the plant house, the water is pumped into two zones, with each greenhouse representing a zone with its own thermostat.The time that the greenhouses were heating, from April 1st to May 31st, I used 8 cords of wood.  This is a lot of fuel, and it was a sight to watch my wood pile shrink that quickly, but in previous years I was using close to 800 gallons of propane.

While I was just heating the air last season, I will be putting in some under bench heating for the 2011 season. At some point I will swap in better quality piping from the boiler to the greenhouses. I went with a lower cost option, and I lose heat in the time it takes for the water to travel, which translates into more fuel use. I may also resize my heat exchangers. Right now they are adequate, but with a really cold snap I can't always get the temperature in the greenhouses where I want it. Under bench sidewall insulation (also on my pre-spring to-do list) should help the heat I have go farther.

I like the fact that my system is using atmospheric carbon to heat the greenhouses. It does require a lot more work though. Having a truck roll up and deliver millions of BTUs that work with the push of a button sure was convenient. One of the reasons I wanted a boiler is that I can run the heating end of the system pretty accurately with a thermostat, and I don’t have to worry about loading a wood stove in the middle of the night. I do feel like the system adds a few hours a week to my schedule, including getting it lit, loaded and cleaned.  Having a tractor sure helps though.  I have gotten used to the extra time, and it doesn’t bother me.

I did get help, both with engineering and financial assistance, through University of Vermont Extension. Here’s a link to the study online: http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/CaseStudies.html

There are a few other boiler installation studies there as well. I am excited about the choice that we made to install this system. If you have specific questions I would be happy to answer them.

All my best,

Seed Starting Workstation - by Megen Hall, High Mowing Organic Seeds Sales Associate

As you flip through your seed catalog and fantasize about your summer garden, you may want to consider that the time for starting seeds is right around the corner.  While it may be convenient to purchase a ready-made seed starting workstation, you can easily DIY for a fraction of the cost.  Depending on the size of your garden or how many seeds you wish to start, you can tweak the following plan to suit your individual needs. 

Let’s begin with the list of supplies that you will need to get started.  Some of the following items may already be available to you in your home, while others may need to be purchased.   

  • You will definitely need at least one fluorescent light fixture with chains, fluorescent bulbs, and two screw eyes per fixture.
  • If you plan to build the proposed structure to hang your lights from, you will need a couple of 2” x 4” wooden boards (you actually need 12 board feet for the following plan),
  • a saw,
  • some nails and/or screws and
  • a hammer and/or screw gun.
  • Other items that you may need are a power strip, extension cord, timer, and seedling heat mat.
When choosing a place in your home to set up your seed starting station, find a spot where the temperatures stay between 65 and 75 degrees F.  It is also handy to set up near an electrical outlet, but you can use an extension cord with a power strip if this is not possible.  Seedlings need approximately 12 hours of light per day, so setting up a timer for you lights is ideal, but you can also turn them on and off manually if you choose.  A seedling heat mat is also advised for certain crop types, such as tomatoes and peppers, to keep the soil a few degrees warmer for seed germination requirements.

If you do not already have a place to hang your fluorescent light fixture, you can begin by building a simple structure from which you will hang your lights.  Get your tool belt ready for a handyman’s (or woman’s) adventure.  I am inclined to warn you that I am no building pro, but this structure is super easy to build!  Begin by cutting your boards into the following dimensions:
  • two 2’ lengths for your base,
  • two 18” lengths for your upright posts, and
  • one 5’ length for your cross bar. 
Next, screw or nail your upright posts to your base from the bottom, using 2 nails/screws per joint.  Then, screw or nail your cross bar to your posts from the top.  If you wish to build a structure that will hold two light fixtures, you can adapt the plan to include two upright posts on either side with two cross bars.  If you are handier or more adventurous than I am and you would like an even larger unit, you could also build a multi layered shelf system or purchase a shelving kit to set up with. 

After you’ve built your structure (or have chosen a place in your home to hang your lights), screw the eye screws to your cross bars, hang your fluorescent light fixture, and plug in your lights (and optional timer and seed mat) to be sure they are in working order, and voila, you are ready to grow!  Use the chains to adjust the height of the lights so they sit within a couple inches of your flats so that your seedlings get enough light and don't grow leggy.  You can raise the lights as they grow. Finally, check out High Mowing’s very own seed starting video for lots of great tips and advice for starting your own seeds indoors.  Have fun and grow good things!

Katie's Kitchen - Soup's On!! - Katie Lavin, Wholesale Sales Manager

I like to make a big batch of soup to eat on for a few days, especially when I anticipate being too busy to cook.  You can also make a little batch for when you don’t have a lot of time to chop vegetables up.  Soup’s great like that - dependable, versatile, and full of vegetables.  The recipes below produce a meal so much better than something out of a can.  They’re really cheap to make, as well.  They're “anything” soups, as in, anything can go in them!

  • 2 medium onions, chopped (or use leeks or scallions)
  • 2-6 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 3-4 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth/stock (increase amount of salt and herbs if using water)
  • 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, or 4-5 medium sized frozen tomatoes without skins
  • 2-3 tbs dried herbs: sage, thyme, summer savory, oregano, parsley, basil
  • 2 cups of small-sized macaroni (I like spiral pasta)
  • 2 cups of chopped carrots
  • 1-2 cans of beans, drained, or 3 cups of cooked beans (kidney, chickpeas, or cannellini)
  • 3-4 cups of chopped kale or other cooking greens
  • A few spoonfuls of pesto, added at the end of cooking or to each bowl of soup (optional)
  • Shredded cheese (optional)
Sauté the onion in oil until translucent and soft; add the garlic and herbs and cook a little longer.  Add the liquid and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots, pasta and greens. Cook until the pasta is done; spoon into bowls and add pesto or cheese and serve with bread. Add some more water the next day, as this soup with thicken as it sits.

Beef and Butternut Chili

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (or use leeks or scallions)
  • 2-6 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 3-4 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth/stock (increase amount of salt and herbs if using water)
  • 1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, or 4-5 medium sized frozen tomatoes without skins
  • 2-3 Tbs chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3-4 cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1-2 cups of frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup chopped sweet pepper (optional)
  • Cheese and sour cream (optional)
Brown the beef until all of the pink is gone. Drain the liquid off. In another pan, while the beef is cooking, sauté the onion in oil until translucent and soft; add the garlic and pepper and cook a little longer.  Add spices and stir for a minute while it cooks; then add your liquid and tomatoes. Add the beef, butternut, and carrots and bring to a boil; turn the heat down to let it simmer, stirring occasionally.  The chili is done when the vegetables are tender; add the corn in the last five minutes of cooking. Top with cheese or sour cream and serve with bread or tortilla chips.

Upcoming Food and Farm Events  

Look for us at the following winter events – stop by our booth to chat; let us know how your season went: which varieties performed well for you, which didn’t do so well; share your suggestions for improvements – we’re always happy to meet our customers!

NOFA- Massachusetts: 24th Annual Winter Conference

January 15, 2011 
Worcester Tech High School, Worcester, MA
NOFA/Mass is a community including farmers, gardeners, landscapers and consumers working to educate members and the general public about the benefits of local organic systems based on complete cycles, natural materials, and minimal waste for the health of individual beings, communities and the living planet. 

The winter conference will include: 60 workshops on organic farming, gardening, landscaping and sustainable living; dozens of exhibits; children’s program; NOFA/Mass Annual Meeting; a delicious potluck; and a teacup raffle.

Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group (SAWG): 20th Annual Conference –
Practical Tools & Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms
January 19-22, 2011
Chattanooga Convention Center, Chattanooga, TN

Year after year, attendees at Southern SAWG’s Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference come for the practical information and go home with so much more. With the high-rated practical sessions and pre-conference offerings and the great networking opportunities, this event attracts over 1,200 farmers and advocates every year.  This conference is an absolute must-attend event for those serious about sustainable and organic farming and creating more vibrant community food systems!
The general conference, to be held on Friday and Saturday, offers 56 one and a half hour sessions on a broad range of topics, 13 information exchange sessions, 13 state networking sessions, a trade show, a silent auction, a virtual farm tour extravaganza show, a Taste of Tennessee dinner and more.

NOFA-New York: 29th Annual Winter Conference –
Diggin’ Diversity
Booth #72
January 21-23, 2011
Saratoga Hotel & City Center, Saratoga Springs, NY

NOFA-NY members are a living tribute to the importance of diversity; from gardeners to farmers, from cut flowers to grass-raised beef, our membership includes commercial producers, homesteaders, backyard gardeners, food justice activists, eaters, and countless others. It's as important in our movement as it is in our fields, which is why we've chosen Diggin’ Diversity as the theme for our 2011 Conference. To address this theme, we're fortunate to be joined by keynote speakers Miguel Altieri, Malik Yakini, and Kevin Engelbert.

In addition to our keynote speakers, we've got a full lineup of workshops that also speak to our theme of diversity. In the schedule you'll find a wide range of workshops for young and old, beginning and experienced, and rural and urban.  As usual, there will also be plenty of entertainment.  And of course, we'll have some of the best food you'll eat all year, mostly grown right here in New York State by our members and other generous donors! 

EcoFarm: 31st Annual Ecological Farming Conference –
Animal - Mineral - Vegetable - e-Lectrical!
Booth #C19
January 26 - 29, 2011
Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA

Welcome to the 31st Annual Ecological Farming Conference – Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, e-Lectrical! This conference has been connecting all of the elements of farming and natural foods into a cohesive whole for 31 years. This year we celebrate the fact that a holistic, ecological view of food and farming is driving a national conversation about personal, public and environmental health.

NOFA-New Jersey: 21st Annual Winter Conference –
Regenerative & Resilient Food Systems: Sowing New Seeds
January 29 - 30, 2011
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

This year NOFA-NJ is expanding our Winter Conference to accommodate the increasing interest in sustainable food and agriculture in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. Conference features include: key note address by Dr. Michael W. Hamm of Michigan State University, C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture; over 40 workshops for farmers, gardeners, and consumers; evening film screenings and farmer mixer pre-conference Compost Marketing workshop with NERC; Kids' Conference in collaboration with NJ Farm-to-School Network, and great door prizes and giveaways!

Vermont Vegetable & Berry Growers Association: Annual Meeting
January 31, 2011
Capitol Plaza Hotel & Conference Center, Montpelier, VT

The mission of the VV&BGA is to promote the economic, environmental and social sustainability of vegetable and berry farming in Vermont through education, promotion and communication among growers. Membership is open to any individual, business, or organization that is that is interested in the commercial production of vegetables and/or berries.  Current membership consists of large and small scale growers (from organic to conventional, wholesale to retail, and everything in-between), industry representatives (seed companies, compost makers, and agricultural chemical representatives), University of Vermont extension and research specialists, and Vermont Agency of Agriculture personnel.

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA): 20th Annual Farming for the Future Conference –
Strength from Our Roots: Claiming Our Food-System Future
February 2-5, 2011
Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA

Each year our Farming for the Future Conference seems to get bigger and better. In addition to our normal offering of exciting workshops and keynote speakers on Friday and Saturday, our Pre-Conference sessions have become a major part of the overall experience for many participants.  This year’s conference is special in many ways, but none as poignant as the opportunity we have to celebrate our 20th gathering together as a community of common purpose. As such, it is a time to take stock of where we’ve come from and what we’ve achieved together.  Come join us as we explore the great sustainable opportunity now before us, that of claiming our food-system future for our families, our communities and, indeed, the entire world.

Organicology Conference
February 10-12, 2011
Doubletree Hotel, Portland, OR

High Mowing Organic Seeds’ very own Jodi Lew-Smith, Director of Research and Production, will be a speaker in the Seeds Intensive Training at the Organicology Conference!  Take your seed growing to the next level! You may think you know how to grow seed but we will help you to raise your skills up a notch or two. This intensive is designed for farmers with basic seed production experience who want to improve their skills. Topics will include an in depth look at the fundamental techniques of seed production, including seed crop spacing and timing, fertility and irrigation needs, managing selfers versus crossers, organic disease management and hot water seed treatments as well as determining seed maturation, harvest methods, threshing and  cleaning, and handling basics. We’ll have break-out sessions to explore crop specific seed production methods for lettuce, spinach, onions, carrots, beets, and a variety of Brassica crops. Important information on managing isolation distances, avoiding genetic contamination, and selecting seed crops for local adaptation while maintaining healthy, diverse crop varieties will be covered.

The Organicology Conference is a three day event, meant to educate and inspire.  The first day of the conference consists of five different day-long intensive sessions.  Intensives are meant to help attendees gain a deeper understanding of the topic at hand and walk away with tools to share that promise to further our organic trade from seed to plate.  Day two mixes it up with many diverse two hour workshops designed to be in-depth, but brief.  The day of workshops continues our cross-pollination concept, where we are learning about a multitude of topics of organic interest with many different folks.   Saturday, day three, is an organic trade show designed for you to show your wares, share information, stimulate the brains and taste bud and to continue to network, network, network! 

NOFA-Vermont: 29th Annual Winter Conference
February 12-14, 2011
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

The NOFA-VT Winter Conference is the pre-eminent gathering of Vermont's local food community, and the highlight of the season for those who are interested in all things organic, local and sustainable!  Come join over 1500 farmers, homesteaders, gardeners, localvores, educators, and citizens that are re-localizing Vermont's food system and leading the nation!  We’ll also be celebrating NOFA-VT’s 40th birthday – so be prepared for surprise festivities!

We at the Winter Conference headquarters are busy confirming over 60 workshops on a diverse array of topics, a 2-day Children's Conference (so fun!), two great keynotes, a Monday intensive workshop for commercial growers, a diverse exhibitors' fair, Saturday night social, and fabulous meals and networking opportunities.  It’s a weekend not to be missed!

New Mexico Organic Farming Conference –
The Southwest’s Premier Conference for Organic Agriculture
February 18-19, 2011
Marriott Albuquerque Pyramid North, Albuquerque, NM

The 2011 NM Organic Farming Conference includes: a welcome by Dr. John Boren, Director of New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service; keynote by Jane Sooby, Director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation; delicious organic meal and snacks with a focus on locally produced items; and over 30 sessions on crops, livestock, weed and pest management, market gardening, and farm support. Sessions are taught by experienced organic producers and experts in the field.

Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association: 32nd Annual Conference –
Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities
February 19-20, 2011
Granville School, Granville, OH

Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities is OEFFA’s 32nd conference! After all this time, the conference is stronger than ever because of the educational, inspirational, and networking opportunities it offers.  There will be over 75 workshop to choose from, a raffle, book signings by keynote speaker Joan Dye Gussow and Gene Logsdon.  Speakers include Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens with their keynote, Living Upstream: Decision-Making on an Organic Farm, and Dr. Joan Dye Gussow with her keynote, Where have we been? Where are we going?

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service: 22nd Annual Organic Farming Conference
February 24-26, 2011
La Crosse Center, La Crosse, WI
The MOSES Organic Farming Conference is the largest organic farming conference in the U.S.  Organized by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), and held annually in La Crosse, WI, the OFC is an extraordinary, farmer-centered event. With over 70 informative workshops, 150+ 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.  From its humble beginning with 90 attendees twenty years ago, our most recent conference in February attracted over 2,700 farmers, advocates, educators, students, and more!

Harvest New England: Ag Marketing Conference & Trade Show –
The Expanding New England Farm Enterprise: Reaping More from What We Sow
March 1-3, 2011
Sturbridge Host Hotel, Sturbridge, MA

This unique marketing conference targets New England growers interested in learning new marketing ideas or fine-tuning strategies for business success.  This is a detail-oriented conference featuring keynote speaker John Stanley: Merchandizing Your Way to Success, and a general session with Farmer and Author Ben Hewitt: Revitalizing the Local Economy Through Local Farms and Foods.  Break-out session tracks focus on: Growing Your Business, Funding Your Business, Selling Your Product, Marketing Your Product, and Adding Value to Your Product.

Connecticut NOFA: 29th Annual Winter Conference
March 5, 2011
Manchester Community College, Manchester, CT

Join us in celebration of local organic farming, gardening, landscaping and sustainable lifestyles. This event will feature 30 plus workshops, a vendor and exhibit area, keynote speech, delicious potluck lunch, children’s program, and a series of hands-on cooking demonstrations.

Organic Growers’ School: 18th Annual Spring Conference
March 5-6, 2011
University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville, NC

The Organic Growers School Spring Conference is a one-of-a-kind event that brings people of all walks of life together for a weekend of learning and networking near Asheville, North Carolina. Since 1993, the OGS Spring Conference has been the best way to kick-off the season, with over 70 classes and hands on workshops on a variety of topics, from starting your first vegetable garden, baking bread, and saving on home energy costs, to raising your own goat herd. The mission of OGS is to provide down-to-earth, practical advice on growing and sustainable living, while remaining affordable and accessible to anyone wanting to participate.  New Tracks for 2011 include: Fruit Production, Urban Farming, Primitive Skills, and All About Poultry.

California Small Farm Conference –
Small Farms, Bright Futures
March 6-8, 2011
Doubletree Hotel, San Jose, CA

Attracting approximately 500 participants yearly, The California Small Farm Conference is the state’s premier gathering of small farmers, farmers' market managers, university researchers, federal and state agriculture agencies, agriculture students, food policy advocates, consumers and others.  With 25 workshops and five workshop tracks, there is something for everyone.  Keynote speaker is Craig McNamara, president and owner of Sierra Orchards, a diversified farming operation that includes field, processing, and marketing operations, producing primarily organic walnuts. He also serves as the founder and president of the Center for Land-Based Learning. The goal of this innovative program is to assist high school students in becoming lifelong learners, overcoming barriers to change, and building greater social and human capital in their communities.

NOFA New Hampshire Winter Conference –
Localizing Food: Organic Matters
March 19th, 2011
Exeter High School, Exeter, 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.  This year our keynote speakers are Ben Hewitt, author of “The Town that Food Saved”, the story of the economic resurgence of Hardwick, VT, and Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm, Westfield, VT.

Please join us for over 40 workshops, including some led by teens and programs for Youth and Children.  This year herbalists from the NH Herbal Network will be leading several of the sessions.  Plan on strolling through the popular Green Market Fair where vendors and a farmers’ market offer all things green and organic.

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