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



  In this issue:


Notes From Tom 

It is ironic that the winter months tend to be the time of year when we growers have the opportunity to gather and spend time with each other. Ideally, we would be visiting each others fields when there were crops growing. But of course, we are much too busy and the wintertime tradeshows, conferences and meetings are a great way to catch up when we have the time to spare. I always find it refreshing and a bit easier to talk crops when there are none to actually take care of. This year High Mowing was able to get to more tradeshows than ever before. Check out our Current Events section to hear about each individual event and our take on them.

Aside from the trade shows and conferences I was invited to participate in a few gatherings that were not your run of the mill winter events. In January, I joined a group of socially responsible investors in Utah to discuss new approaches of investing in agriculturally-based businesses. The group included innovative business owners and leading thinkers in socially responsible investing. The basic idea is that start-up and quickly growing companies need cash when growing their business and they often turn to lenders and investors. Traditional investors want to get in early and then make it big when the company sells in 3-5 years.  An alternative answer is partnering with sustainable investors who are interested in seeing independently owned an operated companies succeed and thrive on their own. This new type of investing is coined “patient capital” or “slow money”.  It was a very stimulating few days with a small group of savvy independent thinkers.  I feel fortunate to have been chosen to represent organic agriculture of Vermont.

The following week I headed to New Orleans to spend a day with Poppy Tucker, the head of Slow Food Louisiana. We spent time with both farmers and chefs as I presented to them various models of how both parties can work more directly with each other.  I shared models that are working here in Vermont such as CSRs (community supported restaurants) modeled after CSA programs and direct marketing relationships. We discussed challenges from both sides such as delivery, storage, and seasonal availability.  During my visit I was many times challenged to eat foods such as frog legs, duck tongue, turtle and other creatures I had not thought about putting in my mouth before.

As each of the events of the past months shape my enthusiasm I feel fortunate to be part of such an inspirational time in agriculture. It seems that many pieces of the puzzle are fitting and public perception of food, family, health and community are being tied into one idea…sustainability.  With this in mind, I would like to thank all of our new and dedicated customers for your support.



Warehouse Spotlight  Heaher Jerrett HMS Warehouse, Wolcott, VT, Sales and Marketing

As the snow continues to fall and the late season winter sun comes and goes I try to spend as much time outdoors, taking a few mornings each week to go skiing or snowshoeing.  When I come to work after these breathtaking mornings I often find myself feeling…well guilty.  I enter through the side door sneaking past the seed packers, past Sam our inventory manager’s desk and out of sight of the loading dock to my office chair.  When I leave to go home, the warehouse crew is usually still working and it seems as though they have never left the building at all.

For those of you unfamiliar with the seasonality of the seed business we have two busy seasons; the summer when we are out in the fields and the winter when we are taking and shipping orders.  Many folks are surprised to hear our winters are so busy but when I explain to them that we actually make most of our money in the winter that carries us through our growing season one can realize how intense our winter sales season must to be.

Fran Formin and Sam Huff in Packing AreaThe warehouse season begins in November when the first lots of seed come through the door.  All lots need to be received, weighed for accuracy and sampled for our Seed Lab.  After a lot is approved by our lab it can be packed up.  We still, for the most part, pack seeds the old fashioned way…by hand.  We do have one packing machine called The Ballard.  It is an older machine that has a spirit of its own and requires a gentle hand to be operated.  It usually takes a special someone to befriend The Ballard.  But when in full steam The Ballard saves us a lot of time.  The Ballard is only used for large runs of A-size packets.  All other sizes are packed by hand using scoops and scales.  We have perfected the process and have special mathematical formulas to ensure accuracy.  Our busy packing months are November through March.  Because our business is growing and slightly unpredictable we may pack the same size packets more than once per season.  Packing manages to keeps folks busy into the spring.  It is a fun time of year, the warehouse is filled with music and chatter and there is a buzz in the air that reminds me of Santa’s workshop.  A good portion of our summer staff can transition to the warehouse creating a year round job.

Steve Hart Packing SeedWe take orders all year long but it is December that brings the onslaught of orders with January and February being the months that most orders are taken in.  It is our mission to get orders out the door as soon as possible.  For the most part orders get shipped within 24-36 hours but there are exceptions.  Tony Risitano our Shipping Manager prints invoices throughout the day while the shipping crew picks, packs and sends.  We have a shipping crew of four people at any one time working round the clock.  Our incredible team also keeps the shelves stocked and cycle counts inventory on a regular basis keeping track of hundreds of seed lots.  We have about 400 varieties and books and accessories.  Each variety can have 1-3 lots that need to be tracked and managed for inventory and quality control issues.  Can you imagine the detail of our inventory management?

Sam Huff is new on our crew this season and is handling all inventory management.  In the past few years we have had one person managing both inventory and shipping.  With the increase in business we found we needed more hands on deck to oversee the process.  So while Tony manages everything coming in and out the door, Sam manages all bulk ordering and seed packing to ensure we have available packets on the shelf and bulk seed ready to be packed. Shipping Crew: John Morse, Tony Risitano, Kate Bowen, Caleb Fisher

I have been giving a number of seed workshops this winter and one point I try to make is that SEEDS ARE ALIVE.  One can think of how difficult as it is to manage produce; seeds tend to pose similar challenges of shelf-life.  All of our seed is tested in our own Seed Lab throughout the year to ensure quality throughout the life of each lot of every variety.  Jeremy Weiss is our Seed Lab technician and works mostly at night performing germination, purity and vigor tests.  Jodi Lew-Smith oversees the program with a keen insight to seed quality and disease issues.

I would like to take this chance to acknowledge our dedicated warehouse crew who are our winter workhorses.  In most businesses they are often overlooked as necessary elements, but as many folks know, in the seed business quick and accurate delivery is an essential part of our operation.  We always try to provide exceptional service at all levels of our business.



Greenhouse Tune-Up  Paul Betz, Commercial  Grower Sales

On my own farm in East Calais, Vermont it is time to get to work! After the first early seeds are started in our house, the next task is to make sure the greenhouses are ready for our first big plantings. Our greenhouses work very hard for us producing all our seedlings for the farm, as well as six packs for market, and provide an excellent environment to get a good jump on the tomato season. The greenhouse has always been a solid profit source, but the rising cost of fuel has taken a fair amount of that return away. I still remember paying 85 cents a gallon for propane. Those days are long gone. As farmers, we generally strive to be as efficient as we can in all aspects of our business and the greenhouse is a great place to tighten up.

Drafts are an obvious place to start looking for improvements. Seal any cracks around doors, windows, and floorboards. A crack only 1/16” around a door can equal as much air infiltration as a hole 3 ½” square. At High Ledge Farm we use high temperature caulking to seal the space where our exhaust stack leaves the end-wall. We have also made nighttime covers that go over the shutters and exhaust fans. We made these out of Reflectix, which is foil faced bubble wrap insulation. We simply take the covers off each morning before the fans are engaged

Everyone knows that heat rises and most heat is lost at the top of house where the only barrier to the outdoors is plastic. In a greenhouse setting though, that’s only part of the equation. Heat will be drawn away anywhere it is colder. Good spots to be aware of is the ground below the benches and the end-walls. We install Reflectix (the reflective bubble wrap mentioned above) below the benches, and fully insulate our northern end wall with it. The ground is a big heat sink, and installing this insulation below benches can save between 5-10% in heating costs. In the near future I am hoping to dig a trench and insulate 16” below the ground level in all my greenhouses too.

Another way to prevent heat loss is to only use as little space as necessary in the greenhouse. I hang a sheet of plastic or a tarp from the bows which allows me to open the greenhouse in eight foot sections, which is the length of my benches. In the early spring, when the temp outside is the coldest, I am only using a small percentage of my greenhouse, and my heating costs are considerably lower. I try to fill the space as soon as I move into another section, so I have as little empty space as possible.

Most growers in the Northeastern part of the country are using double poly for their covering. We inflate ours with a simple system showed to me by Richard Wiswall of Cate Farm. A small piece of wood slides in between the two layers of plastic and a small squirrel cage blower hangs on the inside. It is important to take the air from outside the greenhouse as the humidity from inside will lead to condensation and algae growth, both cutting down on light transmittance.

An annual inspection of your heating system is also an important way to increase efficiency. Clean all soot from the pilot, heat exchanger and stack. Check the exchanger for cracks, and have the flame adjusted. The flame should be blue, not tall and yellow. It is also important to maintain adequate fresh air for combustion. Consider running a fresh air duct to come out near the bottom of your furnace. A properly tuned furnace not only saves money and fuel by running properly, but it can also save you the pain of learning what epinasty means.

Ethylene is a gas produced by combustion. It can enter the greenhouse through cracks in the heat exchanger, flue, or as a result of poor combustion. Tomatoes are very susceptible to injury by this gas. They express injury by having leaves that curl and point downward…. this is epinasty. Once the gas is eliminated, the plants recover within a few weeks, but only after they drop the affected leaves and any blossoms that have developed. It is a tough lesson to learn, and I hope that you can learn this one on me.

So…now your greenhouse is leak-free and the furnace is running great. One last step is to check your horizontal airflow fans (HAF). For a 48’ greenhouse there should be a minimum of two fans, one on either side pointing in opposite directions down the length of the house. Add more fans as the length of the house increases. They will keep the heat and humidity consistent, which will promote better plant growth, and happy farmers!

Transplants You May Have Not Considered Paul Betz, Commercial Grower Sales

Spring in the field is often called the “running season” at my farm. The greenhouses are full, there are fields to prep, and there is a lot of transplanting to do. Our time is stretched already, so why would anyone want to add more crops into their transplanting schedule?

Many farmers are aware of the benefits of transplanting sweet corn; an even stand, avoiding crows and seed corn maggot damage to name a few advantages. When I tell people we transplant green beans, a lot of eyes roll back, and people think that I am crazy. Although beans are a little extra work, and they take up valuable room in an already cramped greenhouse, I can’t imagine not planting them every year. Anyone who is selling at a farmer’s market can appreciate the value of having the “new thing” as early as possible. By bringing beans to the market really early, we get more stops at our stand and a better price for them.

Bean seedlings are started about two weeks before they are direct seeded in the field. We use Provider, putting two seeds to the cell in a 50 cell flat. They are planted out after the first true leaves are full. Seedlings tend to be very tender, and should be adequately hardened off. We plant 5” in the row, and we use three rows in a 48” bed and then hoop and cover seedlings with AG-19 row cover. We space seedlings at a larger spacing than we seed because the transplanted bean plants get so much larger. We transplant three times total, one week apart, and direct seeding at the same time. This gives us a continuous supply, first from the transplanted beans, then from the seeded ones.

Beets and spinach can also be transplanted for an early presence at the market. Spinach varieties that work well are Tyee and Samish. For beets we use Early Wonder Tall Top or Red Ace, but other standard varieties perform well too. These crop types are planted in 128 cell flats, putting two seeds per cell. Seedlings are started about three weeks before our typical direct seeding date. It works out that we are transplanting the same day we are doing our first seeding in the field. Transplants are planted 4” in the row, with four rows to a 48” bed and are both covered with AG-19 row cover, although we don’t generally hoop them. It’s important, however, to make sure the cover is loose enough for the plants to push up when they are growing. For us, another benefit of the row cover is hiding the crop from the deer; they are always on the prowl for some early season greens.

We have found that our customers want more choices earlier at the markets. Including these plantings in your farm will enable you to have earlier produce for a better price, without the expense of a high tunnel. You will also be rewarded with happy customers who are excited to be eating healthy local foods after a long winter.

The Rolling Dibbler  Paul Betz, Commercial Grower Sales Keirin Betz next to the dibbler


At High Ledge Farm we are growing for a large market and a 25 member CSA. To get the consistency we want week after week, we are transplanting all the time. Having worked on farms that were using water wheels or mechanical transplanters, the benefits of consistently spaced plants are apparent: easier cultivation, improved airflow around the plants, reduced disease pressure, and knowing an accurate number of plants you will use to fill a row. The problem we have at High Ledge Farm is a tractor mounted transplanter is not only too big for our farm, it also requires more people than are available most of the time. Enter….the rolling dibbler, a hand held plant and row marker.

Rolling DibblerI first learned about this tool from the Healthy Farmer, Healthy Profits program from the University Of Wisconsin. You can do a search and find them online. Although the design is good, theirs uses PVC, and is pretty expensive to build. I made ours in about 30 minutes using $15 in materials. It paid for itself almost immediately. I used rot resistant white cedar, because it often gets left outside. I have different drums that give me various spacing options.

My Allium drum is based on an 8” row spacing, but the one I use most often is calibrated to give me a 16” row spacing. The drums are 12 sided, and the slats are approximately 2” wide. The plant markers are made with a piece of 2x4 that I milled down to be 1½” square and 2” long. The handle and axle are Rolling Dibblermade out of a piece of ½” conduit. I used a pipe bender for this most recent project, but in the past I just bent it free hand. The bends on the top of the handle help with pulling the roller down the row. At this point, the axle connects with an elbow, but I am working on a better system. My plan is to flatten the end of the handle and drill a hole to slip the axle through. Then I can use lynch pins to secure it. This will allow a quicker, no tool change between drums, and a much more reliable connection.

I can’t imagine farming without this tool. It has given me a precision I couldn’t get with guessing at spacing, and allowed me to increase the efficiency of planning and planting all of my transplanted crops.

Pathology Report:  Hot Water Treatment  Jodi Lew-Smith, Director of Research and Production  

The Relationship Between Hot Water Treatment and Seed Longevity

Hello seed friends. News from the lab at High Mowing is that this past October we took the final set of data on a two-year experiment in which we examined the relationship between hot water treatment and seed longevity. The reasoning behind this experiment is that hot water treatment is the number one means of avoiding seed-borne disease in certain crop types –both for organic and conventional seed. Hot water, by means of efficient heat transmission into the center of the seed, effectively kills both the pathogens that live on the exterior and the interior of a seed. Hot water treatment is thus more effective for certain pathogens than any kind of external seed treatment, such as fungicide powders or dips. And though most of the larger seed types – such as peas, beans, and corn – are not amenable to this kind of treatment, most all of the smaller seed types can be effectively treated with hot water. Tomatoes, pepper, spinach, and Brassica seeds are some of the more common to be treated this way.
The one danger of hot water treatment is that you risk killing the seed along with the pathogen if you allow the water to get to hot, or the treatment time to get too long. And common wisdom has held, in fact, that even recommended treatment conditions for hot water might be subtly damaging to seeds, such that seeds will die more quickly and should thus be planted very soon after performing hot water treatment. In the experiment I’m going to describe to you, we set out to determine whether this danger of killing seed would prove truth or canard.
Prior to this experiment, I had already done a series of smaller experiments in which I asked whether the standard recommended hot water treatment temperature of 50°C could be reduced by several degrees without reducing effectiveness at disease control. I determined that for the pathogens I was able to look at, the temperature could be dropped to 47°C with little effect, and that at 45°C I saw something of an intermediate effect. I thus designed the two-year experiment to be a very practical look at the effect of hot water by setting the highest temperature at 48°C - with two different treatment times – and then looked at the same two treatment times at the intermediate temperature of 45°C, and compared both to the control of wetting the seed in water that had not been heated past room temperature.
And then, for each combination of heat and time, we applied that treatment to six different types of seed, two from each of three crop types. Within each crop type, we attempted to choose a low-quality seed lot and a high-quality seed lot so we could assess whether hot water might be more damaging to one type than the other.

Materials and Methods:


1. Brassica Varieties
French breakfast radish Lot # HMS11-07 (8 oz, ~82% germ)
Mizuna Lot # HMS11-02 (2 oz sample)
[NOTE: both lots have a certain percentage of disease, but are saleable lots]

2. Tomato Varieties
Gilbertie paste Lot # HMS11-09 (2 oz, 94% germ)
Mountain Princess Lot # HMS11-13 (2 oz, 55% germ)
[NOTE: Gilbertie is a high-quality lot for testing ideal longevity, whereas M.P. is a low-quality, non-saleable lot for testing disease control by hot water]

3. Lettuce Varieties
Plato II Lot # HMS11-28 (1 oz, 55% germ)
Merlot (Galactic) Lot # HMS11-30 (1 oz, 99% germ)
[NOTE: Plato II is a diseased lot whereas Merlot is a high-quality lot] 



Brassica 1 45.36/11.34 48°C (118°F) 15 min. 2° below standard trtmt
  2 45.36/11.34 45°C (113°F) 15 min. Further reduced heat
  3 45.36/11.34 42°C (108°F) 15 min. Further reduced heat
  4 45.36/11.34 45°C (113°F) 10 min. Reduced heat + time
  5 45.36/11.34 RT DW 15 min. Control
Tomato 1 11.34 g 48°C (118°F) 20 min. 2° & 5 min less than std
  2 11.34 g 45°C (113°F) 20 min. Further reduced heat
  3 11.34 g 42°C (108°F) 20 min. Further reduced heat
  4 11.34 g 45°C (113°F) 15 min. Reduced heat + time
  5 11.34 g RT DW 20 min. Control
Lettuce 1 5.67 g 47°C (116°F) 20 min. 10 min less than std trtmt
  2 5.67 g 44°C (111°F) 20 min. Reduced heat + time
  3 5.67 g 42° C (108°F) 20 min. Further reduced heat
  4 5.67 g 44°C (111°F) 15 min. Further reduced time

Germination Assays:

200-seed germination tests performed once every 3 months for 2 years
= 8 total rounds of tests of 1000 seeds per variety
= 30 germination tests per round

Germination test conditions:

100 seeds per rolled half towel, 7 days at 20-30°C, watered with KNO3
50 seeds per rolled half towel, 7 days at 20°C
100 seeds per rolled half towel, 14 days at 20-30°C + light, watered with KNO3
100 seeds per square box, 7 days at 15°C + light


In analyzing our data after the final round of germination tests, we were quite astounded to see the pattern that emerged. In all cases, the pathogens on the seeds had died irrespective of whether the seed had received hot water treatment or not. Thus even for a lettuce lot that had over 40% diseased seeds (Plato II) and was treated only with room temperature water, by 11 months later the seed had only 1 or 2% disease and germinated at over 90%.
But whereas the pathogens had died on the seed, the seed itself remained fully viable, and none of the lots we tested showed a drop in germination over this time period. Thus the conclusion that we are able to make, based on this single experiment, is that hot water treatment, at least at the slightly lower temperatures that we used as compared to standard treatments, does not kill seed and can be used to kill pathogens on seed for the window of time before the pathogens expire on their own.
Now for the caveats. This is a single, unreplicated experiment, and as such should be treated as intriguing but far from conclusive. Also the results do not necessarily apply to other crop types, such as onion, for which hot water had been shown to be more damaging to seed. Similarly, there was a limited set of pathogens on the seed in this experiment, and thus the results cannot be applied to all pathogens, especially as certain high-virulent bacterial pathogens will likely require a hotter temperature – more like 50°C – to assure that no residual disease is allowed to be carried through on seed.

GMO Beet Lawsuit Update Tom Stearns, President

As many of you know, High Mowing is one of four plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the USDA regarding the premature deregulation of genetically engineered sugar beets.  This suit was made on January 22, 2008 and since then there have been several hundred newspaper and online articles about it as well as numerous radio shows.  We have also heard from dozens of customers directly about how glad they are that we have taken the lead among all seed companies in this fight.  In fact, it has reminded many of the leadership role we played eight years ago as the founder of the Safe Seed Pledge.  Back then, High Mowing pulled together a great team of like minded seed companies to draft a pledge against genetic engineering and in favor of a different kind of agricultural progress.  Now more than half of the seed companies in the US have followed our example and signed on to the pledge.  We feel fortunate to be able to be a strong voice within the seed industry standing up for what we believe.  Fortunately, more and more seed companies are joining in this important work.  Check out the links below for more information on the GMO Beet Lawsuit.

The Safe Seed Pledge

"Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms poses great biological risks, as well as economic, political and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities."

High Mowing Organic Seeds, others sue federal government over GM sugar beets: Times Argus Online

Mark Johnson Show podcast

VPR Regional News: Organic Seed company joins lawsuit against GMO sugar beets

NOFA-VT Partners with The Vermont Land Trust:  two for one membership



Two For One Membership Supports Sustainable Agriculture in Vermont

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and the Vermont Land Trust have joined with High Mowing Organic Seeds to support local agriculture in Vermont, offering High Mowing Seeds customers the opportunity to become members of both organizations for only $40.

Family farms are at the core of Vermont’s rural economy and local food system. The Vermont Land Trust (VLT) and NOFA-VT are nonprofit organizations that share a vision of local farms producing local foods. With your support, VLT and NOFA-VT can continue their work to strengthen agriculture in Vermont.

For a limited time, VLT and NOFA-VT are offering High Mowing Seeds customers the opportunity to become members of both organizations for a total of $40. Your joint membership with NOFA-VT and the Vermont Land Trust supports Vermont’s rural landscape and economy, helping to conserve land and ensure that current and future generations can enjoy local organic food. This gift will be shared by the two organizations and is a savings of $30. Each gift makes a difference in Vermont’s future. Click here to find out more and donate online.

Vermont Land TrustYou can also learn more about NOFA-VT or VLT or give a gift to just one of these organizations by visiting www.vlt.org or www.nofavt.org

Thank you for your support!





Current Events


What We Have Been Up To…

January 16-19
SAWG Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group
17th Annual Practical Tools and Solutions for sustaining Family Farms Conference
Louisville, KY

We attended The Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group (SSAWG) annual conference in Louisville, KY for the first time this year. Close to 1200 people were in attendance, and all the southern states were represented. The response was great, and we handed out around 350 catalogs. The organic and sustainable movement going on in that part of the country is impressive. There is a rich diversity of operations represented such as established organic farmers, those who were new to farming, and others transitioning out of conventional to organic systems. The number of organic farms is growing steadily, and the local markets are responding by providing strong outlets. The passion that folks have for their farms, even after such a hard season, was heartening. I look forward to spending more time in the southern states getting more familiar with the organic growers in this region.

January 19
NOFA-MA Northeast Organic Farming Association of Massachusetts
25th Annual Winter Conference: “Celebrating 25 Years of promoting local, organic agriculture for healthy lives, a healthy planet and a healthy economy!”
Worcester, MA

I have to say one of the most fun parts of this event was the raffle….where me and Megen raked in over four prizes including a Harvest Market bag, hat and T-shirt, a few books and a very special T-shirt I had her eye on all day. The event drew about 300 people, up thirty percent from last year’s enrollment. We gave away about 80 catalogs, which means about ¼ of attendees walked away with a 2008 HMS catalog. We also sold about $400.00 dollars worth of seed paying for our travel expenses and time spent. Overall, very fun event and good opportunity to reach out to some New England gardeners and growers who may not have know about High Mowing. –Heather Jerrett

January 22-25
ASTA American Seed Trade Association
National Conference
Albuquerque, New Mexico

This is a large conference bringing together conventional and organic seed companies from all over the world who specialize in vegetables, herbs and flowers. Most attendees represent wholesale and breeder/producer seed companies (not mail-order or retail companies) who are mostly conventional and GMO. But over the past few years I have attended this meeting the interest in organics is growing and this year there was a significant interest in organics. It was pretty amazing to have conventional seed companies want to meet with me to talk organic seed. Many of them do not really understand the organic or small farm market so they usually have a lot of questions. New Orleans is a great city with more food culture than any place I have ever been. Even the little sub shop wouldn't be caught dead serving non-local shrimp. –Tom Stearns

January 25-27
NOFA NY Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
26th Annual Winter Conference: “Organic Solutions!”
Saratoga Springs, NY 

One of my favorite events to attend! This year’s conference was in downtown Saratoga, which lent itself to a shorter drive and a fun town to walk around and get a breath of fresh air. This year’s trade show was a good size. Sara and I had a great time taking Polaroid photos for our “Faces of Organic Agriculture” poster board. It was an opportunity to connect with some top rate growers and gardeners. We gathered a wealth of feedback from existing customers and handed out catalogs to new customers. Overall, we handed out over 200 catalogs and sold over $1000.00 worth of seed packets! The workshops Sara and I managed to attend were all very well put together and packed full of good information. See you there next year! -Heather Jerrett

February 14-15
OSA Organic Seed Alliance
5th Biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference
Salem, OR

Shortly after attending ASTA I went off to Oregon with Jodi (HMS's Director of Research and Production) and Meredith (HMS's General Manager). We attended and also presented a workshop at the Organic Seed Alliance Conference. We were also able to visit with several conventional and organic seed growers in the area around Salem as well as one of the largest onion breeding stations in the world. It was quite an educational adventure. The conference itself was great with several dozen seed companies represented as well as dozens seed growers, breeders, university researchers and others. We got to catch up with many of our seed growers and talk more about how to deepen our work together. –Tom Stearns

February 16 & 17
NOFA VT Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
26th Annual Winter Conference: “Business Not As Usual”
Randolph, VT

A great opportunity to spend time with our neighbors and long-time friends of the Vermont organic movement. Over the course of the weekend High Mowing participated in the trade show and presented four workshops and had 15 employees total in attendance attending workshops. Needless to say we were busy. The conference brought out over 1,000 people. We did not hand out too many catalogs as most folks already had one, but we did sell a good portion of seed and of course a slew of Stella Natura biodynamic calendars. The keynote given by Heather Darby on Sunday was outstanding as she traced her own relationship in agriculture to Vermont's changing relationship to agriculture. The future is looking good for Vermont farms as more and more people realize how important local organic food is and how important it is to support our neighbors. GO VT! -Tom Stearns

February 25
Vermont Vegetable and Berry Annual Meeting
Montpelier, VT

The most local grower-focused event we attend. It was a great chance to see familiar faces and acquire valuable knowledge at the same time. The VVBGA membership is up 50% this year, reaching 150 members. Tom, Sara and I manned an info table and handed out flyers related to our products and our recent law suit with the USDA. This is one of the last events before we get geared up for the season, and it turned out to be such a warm and sunny day that it really felt like it was time to get to work! -Heather Jerrett

Upcoming Events...

March 6-8
ACORN Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network Conference
Memramcook, New Brunswick

Mark your calendars for the ACORN Conference and Trade Show. This “not to be missed” event will be held at the Memramcook Resort (15 minutes past Sackville, NB) on March 6-8th. Starting off will be the Organic Grain and Oilseed Forum, followed by workshops on Friday and Saturday on a wide range of organic topics. Tom Stearns, President of High Mowing Organic Seeds will be the closing keynote speaker! Tom will also be present on a panel discussing organic seed production techniques being used and developed.

March 18th
CSA and Farmer Showcase

Learn about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects – what is a CSA? How can you participate in one? Meet the farmers and food providers from local farms and farmers markets, and find out where to purchase your veggies, eggs, meat, and more. This program will begin with a brief opening talk and feature a good deal of time to visit and meet with our community’s farmers.

Times: 6:30pm
Location: Town Hall Theatre, Akeley Memorial Building, Main Street in Stowe
Admission: Free
More Info: 802-253-6145

Employment and Internship Opportunities at HMS 


High Mowing Organic Seeds is Now Hiring For the Director of Sales & Marketing Position

This position oversees all sales activities, creates the strategic marketing plan for the year and ensures sales targets are set appropriately and met. This position will manage all areas of HMS marketing – for retailers, home gardeners, & commercial growers - and will ensure consistent marketing efforts with appropriate tactics used to reach each market. The applicant should have experience in commercial vegetable growing and familiarity with organic agriculture, as well as experience in marketing, project management, and managing a team of people. Fore more information, email Meredith@highmowingseeds.com .

2008 Internship and Willing Worker Opportunities

High Mowing Organic Seeds is an independently owned seed company that specializes in 100% certified organic seed.  We grow an average of 30% of our bulk seed right here on our farm in Wolcott, VT.  We also have a three acre Trials garden that includes a showcase garden, breeding projects and variety research.  We are always looking for people who are interested in learning new skills.  We offer a number of internships in various areas.  We do not offer housing but do have on-site camping and have a full kitchen and library that are accessible at all times.  These positions can be used for college internship credits as well but this is not necessary for consideration.  We recommend that these be part time positions, but would consider a full time internship for the right person.  All interns receive a $25-50/week stipend (depending on whether internship is part-time or full-time), access to organic veggies throughout the season, and access to free seeds and reduced cost books and growing supplies.  Contact Heather Jerrett at 802-472-6174 x109 or email at Heather@highmowingseeds.com and we can talk about possible opportunities for you at High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Seed Production Farm Internships

We are always accepting applications for our production farm internships.  This work involves all aspects of production from greenhouse planting, to transplanting, cultivation, seed collection, and seed cleaning.  Most interns like to come in the fall when the majority of seed is being harvested, but we will take interns who want to have a general farm experience throughout the summer.

Trial Garden Internships

  • Data Collection Intern:  We are looking for two or three interns to visit the farm a couple days a week to collect data in our variety research garden.  This will involve recording data for hundreds of varieties including vegetable characteristics, weight, measurements, taste testing etc.  This is a perfect position for someone who can pay attention to details and enjoys getting to know a wide array of vegetable crop types.
  • Pollination Intern:  We are looking for one or two interns who want to learn the basics of plant breeding and manage our six week window of pollinations starting in mid July through August.  This position may need to people as pollinations need to happen every day.  We focus on cucurbits and have a number of projects including summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins, melons and tomatoes.
  • General Trial Gardens Field Intern:  Come and learn how to grow over twenty types of vegetables in one summer, including flowers and herbs.  We have a number of part time intern positions for those who want to get their hands in the dirt.  As an intern you will be an integral part of the farm crew but also participate in field walks and off-site farm visits.  A great way to have fun and learn a lot of info in a short amount of time!

Other Internships

  • Seed Testing Lab:germination, purity, and seed quality testing
  • Seed Cleaning
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Inventory/Warehouse Management



Localvore Recipes


Rainbow Root Salad

You can find this dish served at The Bee’s Knees Café in Morrisville, VT

7c Pete’s Greens Rainbow Roots Chopped
Red Beets
Yellow Beets
Chioggia Beets (candystripe)
Red Carrots
Yellow Carrots
Orange Carrots
Colored Potatoes (do not hold well in salad if keeping in fridge)

7 Whole Garlic Cloves
2c Chopped Kale
1/2c Cashews Chopped


1/4c Rice wine vinegar
1/2c Sesame oil
1/4c Vegetable oil
3/4c Soy sauce
2Tbs Honey
2tsp Dijon mustard
1 Clove garlic minced
1/2” Ginger minced

Chop roots and add whole garlic cloves.  Roast in oven at 425F for a minimum of 45min until a fork easily pokes into roots.  Add chopped kale to warm vegetables.  This slightly cooks the kale for a wilted texture.  Add chopped cashews.Toss dressing in and serve over salad greens or by itself.

Wheat Berry, Black Bean, and Vegetable Stew

This recipe was taken from the http://www.vermontlocalvore.org/ website

1c Wheat berries, uncooked
2c Hot water
4c Water
1tsp Maine Sea Salt
1Tbs Butterworks Farm sunflower oil
1c Onion, chopped
1/2c Carrot, sliced
1Tbs Fresh rosemary, chopped
2c Savoy cabbage, chopped
1lb Whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1lb Black beans, cooked and drained
2Tbs Fresh parsley, chopped

Combine wheat berries and 2 cups hot water in a bowl; let stand 1 hour.  Drain mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid.  Combine wheat berries, 4 cups water, and salt in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Remove from pan.  Add oil to pan; heat over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, celery, carrot, and rosemary; sauté 5 minutes.  Add the reserved soaking liquid and wheat berry mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in cabbage and pepper. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes; simmer mixture for 10 minutes or until the wheat berries are tender, stirring occasionally. Add soy beans; bring to a boil. Cook mixture for 10 minutes or until thick. Stir in chopped parsley.

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Non GMO Project Verified USDA Organics Vermont Organics Copyright 2016 High Mowing Organic Seeds. All Rights Reserved.
76 Quarry Road :: Wolcott, VT 05680 :: toll free: 866-735-4454 :: fax: 802-472-3201
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