The Story of a Seed: from Pollination to your Plate

Honeynut Butternut Squash

 

Have you ever wondered how the seeds in our packets got there? Some varieties, like Honeynut butternut squash, have particularly unique stories. We couldn’t resist sharing the remarkable journey of this little squash and the vital farms and faces that have shaped it along the way.

 

 

1. The Market

New market opportunities from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmer’s markets in the late 1990s created demand for new and novel vegetables, such as smaller-sized varieties that are more manageable for small families. Disease resistance is also very important to commercial organic growers, who depend on it to ensure their plants survive to ripen fruit and store well.

 


Michael Mazourek and grad student Lindsey Wyatt

2. The Breeder

This sweet, robust open-pollinated variety was bred from a cross between butternut and buttercup squashes made long ago at Cornell University. Dr. Michael Mazourek, plant breeder at Cornell, developed the variety with the funding of USDA and the support of Jack Algiere and High Mowing Organic Seeds.

 

3. The Seed Grower


Katie T. rinsing Honeynut seeds

Katie Traub is the Farm Manager at High Mowing and she and her team grow and harvest the Honeynut seeds in our packets. She selected it for three years to get the quality up to our standards after we first received the stock seed. Katie loves the sweetness of these little squash and makes sure all of our staff knows it. She ensures none of the high-quality flesh goes to waste after seed harvest by partnering with producer Pete’s Greens to process it for soup and pie base.

 


Pete Johnson cutting up Honeynut for processing

4. The Processor

The sweet, high-quality Honeynut flesh from our seed crop goes to good use at Pete’s Greens, a neighboring farm in Craftsbury, Vermont. After removing the seeds, the squash are dumped into their kettle and pulping machine. The raw squash is cooked and pureed into a high-quality frozen product sold through winter CSA shares and to local institutions.

 

 

5. The Seed Company


The Staff at High Mowing, September 2013

High Mowing began in 1996 with 28 varieties and the goal of leveraging organic seed to make our world a better place. To this day, we remain true to our roots and continue to grow many of the varieties we sell, including Honeynut, on our 40-acre organic farm. The rest of our seeds are produced by organic seed breeders and organic farmers. The seeds are extensively tested for quality, then packed and sent to farmers and gardeners across North America. We believe that connecting the dots in our food system by listening and encouraging collaboration can bring new varieties to market that achieve multiple aims for consumers, farmers and retailers. And we love discovering and supporting high quality open-pollinated breeding! We are proud to contribute a percentage of each Honeynut seed sale to Cornell to support their future organic breeding work.


Melanie collecting seed for testing

6. The Third Party Certifiers

Our seeds have always been Certified Organic and now they’re also Non-GMO Project Verified. We work with the Non-GMO Project to put our seed through additional rigorous testing and inspections to ensure that our seeds have not been contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Even in crops that do not have GMO counterparts yet (like butternut), this process, along with other preventative measures we take, ensures that we are always improving our seed supply chain and identifying all the risks in advance. At right, our Quality Control Manager Melanie Hernandez extracts a seed sample for testing. Learn more about our Non-GMO Project Verification.

7. The Farmer


Jack Algiere teaching at Stone Barns Center

Jack Algiere oversees vegetable production and seed saving at Stone Barns Center, an educational farm in Pocantico Hills, NY. In 2006 Cornell’s breeding program offered Jack seed for the unnamed butternut variety that, after years of trials, would become the Honeynut. Jack has been growing it each year, turning to chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns for his expertise in evaluating its flavor.

 


Moxie enjoying her first Honeynut

8. The Consumer

As the sustainable food movement grows, people are becoming concerned about where their food comes from. For more and more people this interest extends to seed—because good food starts with good seed. It is important to know the farms and faces you are supporting, because behind every bite of organic food is a story. But it doesn’t end here! Your feedback is what shapes the future of seed, helping us select varieties that yield well in the field and taste great in the kitchen.

Did you enjoy this story? Download our Story of a Seed Infographic! (And here’s a high resolution printable 11×17 poster version


Our “Story of a Seed” Infographic – Click to download!

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Breeding / Research Program, Commercial Growing, Trials, Variety Highlights | 1 Comment

Increasing Production with a Whole Foods’ Local Producer Loan


Pumpkin seeds drying on screens in our hoophouse

Here at High Mowing we are always on the lookout for new ways to produce more high-quality organic seed. The exciting news is – this year we found three! With the support of Whole Foods’ Local Producer Loan Program, we’re making great strides in increasing seed production on our farm.

Our Tools

Many of the tools we depend on in our harvest and curing processes are simple ones we built ourselves, like basic drying racks made of wire mesh stretched over wood-framed tables. Some of the tools we use are beautiful antiques that work just as well as when they were new, like our 19th century corn sheller. Many have been custom-built for us, like the machine that packs seed into our full color photo packets. And occasionally, when we are very lucky, we are able to purchase squeaky clean equipment that is brand new.


Charles operating the corn sheller, Photo: Justine Hand

Because we rely so heavily on our hand-made and customized equipment for seed cleaning, it’s very exciting when we get something truly new. Working with older or custom equipment means that when it’s working properly, everything goes smoothly. But when it fails or breaks down, it can mean many hours of additional hand-labor, which is both expensive and presents logistical challenges when you have a short season like ours. In order to keep up with the growing demand for certified organic seeds, it’s important to keep upgrading our tools so that we can produce larger quantities of higher-quality seeds.

WFM’s Local Producer Loan Program


Our current wet seed extractor is used to harvest squash and cucumber seeds

To address this need, we applied to the Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loan Program – and we got the loan! The Local Producer Loan Program has pledged to grant up to $25 million in low-interest loans to local producers, and has already supported over 200 local vendors with more than $14 million in funding. The fixed, low-interest rate loans help producers pay for capital expenditures that increase their production capacity. The Local Producer Loan Program has awarded us a $75,000 loan to pay for three great technologies that will increase our production of organic seeds and enhance their quality.

The Wet Seed Extractor and Dryer

If you’ve been keeping up with us for the last few years (we know it’s not easy!) you’ve probably seen pictures of us harvesting wet-seeded crops like squash and cucumbers into a huge contraption with a turning drum. This is the wet seed extractor we currently use, and it works pretty well – the crew tosses mature fruits into the hopper at the top, a grinder mashes them into small pieces, and everything ends up in the perforated drum, where the seeds and juice fall through the holes and are collected.


Our new wet seed extractor (left) and dryer (right) about to be delivered!

The only problem is that our current extractor doesn’t get the seeds very clean, meaning that they need to soak in water for a while afterwards to separate them from the fruit pulp. With the new extractor that we’ve been able to buy through the Local Producer Loan, there is more flexibility. We can run the machine at different speeds, allowing us to adjust it and clean the seed much better on the first pass. The new machine can also accommodate different seed sizes better than the old one, allowing us to produce more seeds with greater efficiency and less waste.

Finally, and perhaps best of all, the new extractor comes with a seed dryer! This is the first time we’ve ever had a tool to replace spreading the seeds out on screens to dry. Now clean, wet seed can go straight into the dryer, where it is gently air-tumbled to quickly and uniformly dry the seed. This technology will enable us to dry more seed much more quickly, and with fewer losses to the mold that can grow on seeds when they’re drying over a long period on screens.

The Greenhouse


Our new Harnois greenhouse under construction

We were also able to purchase a new greenhouse with the Local Producer Loan! The new greenhouse was manufactured by Harnois in Canada, and will provide a robust environment for cold-season production and overwintering seed crops. It will serve to significantly extend the season, allowing us to grow varieties that we currently must purchase from other producers because they will not survive the severe winters here in northern Vermont. The greenhouse has another added benefit, which is that it allows us to refine our techniques for preventing cross-pollination, an essential component of producing quality seeds.

Advancing the State of Organic Seed

We are very grateful to have the support of Whole Foods in developing our capacity to produce high quality organic seeds. These investments will allow us to increase on-farm production of our seeds in step with the increase in demand for them, and in turn advance the availability of organic seeds nationwide. We believe that organic seeds are the most powerful vehicles for developing the healthy food system of the future, and we thank Whole Foods for helping us get the tools we need to improve quality and productivity as the movement grows.

According to Whole Foods, “We are happy to be able to provide this loan to High Mowing Organic Seeds to help enable them to advance the important work they are doing with organic, non-GMO seeds. They have an outstanding product that our customers really love.” – Kimberley Rose, Vice President of Purchasing for Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region.

Read the press release: http://www.highmowingseeds.com/whole_foods_market_local_producer_loan_announcement.html

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Greenhouses, Winter Growing | Leave a comment

Winter’s White Gold: Forcing Belgian Endives

It’s time to start forcing Belgian endives! If you missed it, check out our post from this spring, Winter’s White Gold: Planning Ahead for Belgian Endive Harvest. This previous post outlines the first part of the Belgian endive production cycle, specifically cultivation of the roots. Now we’ll talk about the second part of the production cycle, known as forcing, which produces the delicious chicons we eat as Belgian endives.


Harvesting Belgian endive roots at High Mowing

If you started Belgian endives this past spring, you should have ended up with a big bag of roots in your cooler. The roots are ideally around 1.5” in diameter, trimmed to 8” or so long, with the leaves trimmed to about 1” above the crown. Inside the cooler or refrigerator, your roots have been going through vernalization– you’ve been convincing them it’s winter. So when you take them out of the cooler, they will of course think that it’s spring. This is called forcing, when the change in temperature causes them to sprout chicons.

 

 


Planted endive roots ready for forcing, Photo: growingwithplants.com

When you’re ready to start forcing, anytime between a week and several months after storing (but ideally no later than January), take your endive roots out of the cooler and plant them (you can also store them in the cooler pre-planted). The roots can be tightly packed into deep containers – “long tom” terra cotta pots, sap buckets, or 5 gallon buckets work well.

Next, simply fill in around the roots with sand, light potting soil, or peat. Do your best to fill in all the gaps, leaving just the trimmed tops sticking out above the sand or soil. Then cover your buckets and place in a warm, completely dark place, ideally around 68⁰F. You can cover your pots with black plastic garbage bags or simply put them in the cellar or a closet. Just remember – any light that gets in will cause the creamy white chicons to turn green (and tougher). If you use a plastic bag, cover loosely and check your pots every few days for mold. Water lightly so that the soil is kept moist to the touch (but not sopping wet).

 

 


Ready-to-eat endives, Photo: growingwithplants.com

Within 2-3 weeks, your chicons will be ready to harvest! And don’t throw out your roots after the first harvest – if you keep conditions right, you may get a second flush of smaller chicons a few weeks later.

Excited to try Belgian endives, or have some advice for other growers? Let us know what you think, and check out our Totem F1 Belgian Endive seeds.

Not sure how to eat them? Try using the raw leaves as tiny serving dishes  filled with fruit, nuts, and cheese for an attractive appetizer, in an Endive, Apple, and Walnut Salad, or like the French do, as an Autumn Vegetable tarte tatin.

 


Autumn Vegetable Tarte Tatin, Photo: mimithorisson.com

Posted in Ask The Expert, Beginner Gardeners' Guide, Growing Tips, Winter Growing | Leave a comment

Support a Healthy Community, Fund Your Project with High Mowing Seeds


A student fundraiser from LaMotte School in Montana

Does your school or organization need to raise money? Want to help your school or non-profit and encourage gardening in your community at the same time? No problem! Fundraising with High Mowing Organic Seeds is a win-win for everyone, supporting fundraising efforts at your school while encouraging your community to garden and eat healthy, fresh local produce. Now you can raise money while reducing, rather than increasing the environmental footprint of your community (as is common with gift wrap and magazine-based fundraisers.) Want more reasons to fundraise with High Mowing?

No Deadlines and No Minimum Order

With our fundraiser program, there’s no minimum to meet – so you don’t have to worry about making a cut off to participate.  If your kids are excited about fundraising, sign ‘em up! With flexible dates and no minimum order, your organization can only benefit from participating in our simple and straightforward program.

Many Options to Choose From

Are the people in your community already gung-ho about gardening? Or are folks just starting to experiment? Regardless of how popular gardening is in your town, we have just what you need. Choose individual packets from among 25 of our best-selling varieties, or attractive themed gift box collections, or both! There’s something for everyone and every budget in our Fundraiser program.

Meet Your Goals with a Great Profit Margin

Choose our individual packets and keep 60% of your profits, or choose our boxed gift collections to take home a 50% profit margin. Either way, at least half of what you collect goes straight toward your fundraising goals. Your students can easily and quickly calculate the impact they’ve made, keeping the momentum behind your fundraiser going.

Great Resources Make Selling Easy

We want your fundraiser to succeed! So to make life easier, we provide a Seed Fundraiser Kit with great tools to help you spread the word. In your kit you will receive:

-          an attractive “High Mowing Seeds Sold Here” poster to advertise your fundraiser

-          colorful, easy-to-use order forms for individual packets and/or gift collections

-          a Master order form to compile orders (and an optional electronic version that does all the math for you!)

Your school or organization can also purchase one of our display racks, with the option to fill it with our beautiful full-color photo packets. These are the same displays you see in retail stores where our seeds are re-sold, they come in a variety of sizes and designs, and are filled with the same high quality seeds our farmer and gardener customers depend on. Like individual packet sales, seed racks and collections offer a great 60% profit margin.

 


Students at LaMotte School washing carrots they grew

What folks say about Fundraising with High Mowing:

“We are extremely excited to complete our 3rd annual High Mowing Seeds sales this year.  Thanks to your seed sales, we have been to help fund our school garden project to include eight beds, a beautiful greenhouse, irrigation supplies for summer watering and an elegant, yet functional, live willow fence.” ~ T. Drake, Montana

Ready to raise some money? Click here to get started!

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New in 2015 Variety Highlights

Here are a few highlights of the NEW varieties in our 2015 catalog that we are really excited about! To see the full list, click here.


Shiraz Beet

Shiraz Beet - Open-Pollinated

The first disease-resistant OP beet developed for organic production. This exceptionally smooth, sweet round 3-4” red beet variety is derived from three different heirlooms. Tall, succulent tops provide high quality greens. Rhizoctonia-resistant variety bred through a collaboration including several farmers, Dr. John Navazio & the Organic Seed Alliance. Tall tops • Excellent for processing (Beta vulgaris)

 


Yankee F1 Onion

Yankee F1 Yellow Onion- HYBRID

Very productive storage variety with medium sized round bulbs. Our first variety with strong resistance to Downy Mildew! Yield and excellent storage qualities similar to Copra. Dark brown skins and bulbs will remain hard and sound until spring. From our partners at Bejo Seeds. Downy Mildew • Long day • Stores well. (Allium cepa)

 


Valencia Onion

Valencia Sweet Onion - Open-Pollinated

Versatile day-neutral sweet Spanish onion for all regions. Mild to sweet flavor. Excellent for bunching when young or for fresh market sales of large bulbs with warm golden-brown skin. Stores moderately well. Day neutral • 4-6” bulbs. (Allium cepa)

 

 


Gemstone Greens Mix

Gemstone Greens Mix – Open-Pollinated
An eye-catching, flavorful mix of deep maroon and emerald green leaves and stems. A mix of mustards with an emphasis on colorful red and purple stems for a mix as pretty on the plate as it is in the field. A tasty, mildly spicy blend for salad conoisseurs. Colorful blend • Colors deepen in late summer.

 

 


Mirage F1 Sweet Corn

Mirage F1 Sweet Corn - HYBRID

Attractive ears with wonderfully tender, sweet kernels that melt in your mouth! Ears start 2.5’ from the ground for easy harvest and are well-wrapped in dark green husks. Plants are 7’ tall and average 2 ears per plant with 16 rows of kernels each. Intermediate resistance to NCLB, rust, and Stewart’s bacterial wilt. WHITE • Synergistic (sy) • 8-9” ears. (Zea maize)

 


German Johnson Tomato

German Johnson Tomato - Open-Pollinated

Deep pink Brandywine-type fruits with excellent flavor on vigorous, high yielding plants. A standout in our trials! Medium-sized fruits with rich tomato flavor and tender, creamy texture. Earlier, more uniform, higher yielding and slightly smaller than Brandywine. Indeterminate • 8-16 oz. fruit. (Lycopersicon esculentum)

 

 


Dwarf Green Curled Kale

Dwarf Green Curled Kale – Open-Pollinated

Compact variety with very frilly, tightly curled leaves and excellent flavor. A frost-tolerant variety from north Germany that can be harvested long into winter. Similar to Ripbor with a slightly smaller frame and light to medium green leaves. High yielding • Robust 18” plants. (B. oleracea.)

 

 


Bangor F1 Carrot

Bangor F1 Carrot - HYBRID

Large, crunchy cylindrical roots ideal for juicing. Very productive variety with good flavor and heavy yields of juicy bright orange roots with blunt tips. The perfect juicing carrot! Excellent commercial grower variety that resists greening and splitting. Weaker tops are not suited to bunching. From our partners at Bejo Seeds. Storage • 6-7” Nantes/Berlicum-type. (Daucus carota)

 


Eleonora Basil

Eleonora Basil - Open-Pollinated

Growers rejoice! The first organically-available basil with Downy Mildew resistance. Innovative European breeding resulting in upright plants with more elongated stems for better airflow and intermediate DM resistance. Large, medium green, lightly serrated leaves with good flavor. Well-suited to field or container production. Not as bolt-tolerant as other basils. 18M seeds/oz Upright habit • Suitable for containers. (Ocimum basilicum subsp)

 


Ostergruss Radish

Ostergruss Radish – Open-Pollinated

Unusual carrot-shaped magenta radish with crisp texture and spicy flavor. German variety translated as “Easter Greeting”. Firm bright white interior flesh is enclosed in beautifully contrasting thick pink skin. Dark green foliage ideal for bunching. Beautiful addition to salads and perfect shape for dipping. Very quick to size up and holds quality even when large. Spring/fall crop • 5-6” roots. (Raphanus sativus)

 


Preludio F1 Fennel

Preludio F1 Fennel - HYBRID

Very early, heavy bulbs with superb flavor – a major improvement in hybrid fennel. This variety stood out in our trials with its lightly sweet flavor, uniformity and ability to hold in the field without bolting. Upright plants are easy to harvest. Early variety recommended for spring and summer harvest with good fall performance as well. Bolt-resistant • Large bulbs. (Foeniculum vulgare)

 

 


Indigo Apple Tomato

Indigo Apple Tomato – Open-Pollinated

Beautiful and early variety with fruits that start deep purple-red and turn nearly black in the sun. Sweet, rich flavored fruits resist cracking and sunscald. A larger Indigo tomato with exceptionally high anthocyanin content; firm, meaty fruits are delicious sliced on sandwiches. Bred by Brad Gates using an original cross made by PKS Heirlooms in Copemish, MI. Indeterminate • Resists cracking • 2-4 oz.. (Lycopersicon esculentum)

 


Encino Lettuce

 Encino Green Oakleaf Lettuce – Open-Pollinated

Huge, fine heads of buttery, lightly savoyed leaves. Heads are densely packed with lightly serrated wavy leaves and have paler centers. In our trials it had sweeter and more buttery flavor than Panisse, with larger heads and slightly less lobed leaves than Ocate. Uniform size • Slow to bolt. (Lactuca sativa)

Disease Resistance: Downy Mildew (races 1-26, 28), Aphids, Lettuce Mosaic Virus, MTO-30

Posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Commercial Growing, Variety Highlights | Leave a comment

Participatory Breeding of ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ Sweet Corn


Farmer Martin Diffley in his corn fields

Sweet corn is an essential crop for many organic farmers, and farmer-breeder Martin Diffley is no exception. But Martin couldn’t find an organic variety that worked on his farm. So he collaborated with plant breeders to make one.

Martin had been growing sweet corn on his Minnesota farm for decades, but in that time he’d gotten frustrated with the varieties available. They either rotted in the cold, wet spring soil or, lacking vigor, could not compete with weeds. No one was breeding for the traits that were important to organic farmers.

One day, Dr. John Navazio of the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) visited Martin and mentioned that he knew a breeder selecting for better cool soil emergence—Dr. Bill Tracy of the University of Wisconsin—and a participatory breeding project began.


Dr. Bill Tracy, left, and Dr. John Navazio

Jared Zystro, then Bill’s grad student, planted over a hundred breeding plots on Martin’s farm; Martin selected for the traits he wanted from the plots, and Bill and John ensured the correct pollinations were made to improve the variety. Their ultimate goal was to develop an OP se (open-pollinated sugary enhanced) sweet corn with good cold soil emergence, early vigor, disease resistance, great flavor and large, well-filled ears. These traits had only existed before in hybrid varieties.

Only a few plots had plants with vigor, disease-resistance and good flavor. That winter, seed from the best was sent to a “winter nursery” in Chile, and Bill continued crossing the best individuals and generating new families.


Adrienne Shelton at a “bite test” of ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ in Minnesota

The next year these were planted on Martin’s farm, this time with Bill’s grad student Adrienne Shelton leading the evaluations and selections. After four more years of selecting supported by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), they decided to release “Who Gets Kissed?” in 2014.

The name is based on a game played at corn husking bees across early America. All corn was OP back then, and very diverse. When a person found an ear with red, instead of yellow kernels (a very rare occurrence), they could choose whom to kiss! While you won’t find any red ears, OP variability is a signature of “Who Gets Kissed?” and provided the inspiration for its name.


The finder of the red ear claims his prize!

We were also lucky enough to have Adrienne recently join our team at High Mowing! Thanks to these amazing breeders, we have this variety available to share with you, and we look forward to more participatory breeding projects in the future. As an open-pollinated variety, seeds from ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ can be selected and saved; the breeders hope that growers will adapt the variety to the unique conditions in their own fields. We are proud to contribute 10% of our sales of “Who Get’s Kissed?” back to OSA and Martin Diffley to support future organic breeding efforts.


The breeders of WGK: John, Jared, Adrienne and Bill

We are pleased to offer ‘Who Gets Kissed?’ in our 2015 catalog! Click below to see this collaborative variety on our website.


‘Who Gets Kissed?’ Sweet Corn

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Spoiler Alert! Exciting Changes in the 2015 Catalog

Click here to view a virtual version of the 2015 catalog!

When you open your mailbox a few weeks from now and find our catalog inside, you will immediately notice that it looks very different . . . and better! We are so pleased, we just can’t wait for you to see some of the great new features (and the many new varieties we are offering this year, from kale to tomatoesclick here to see all the new varieties!) Spoiler alert! Read on if you’d like a sneak peek of what’s inside . . .

The Paper

This year we made the transition from the 50% recycled content matte paper we have used in the past to a more environmentally-friendly option: Our 2015 catalog is printed on 100% recycled, 90% post-consumer recycled (PCR) paper and is coated with a very thin layer of clay (NOT corn!) for a glossier finish that makes the photos of our varieties come to life. The colors are brighter, the details sharper, and although the paper “feels” lighter, it’s actually the same durable weight we’ve used in the past. We hope you’ll enjoy the way the new fully recycled and recyclable paper showcases the vibrant colors and rich textures of our catalog. Read all about it here.

The Layout

Our 2015 catalog has been re-designed to be easier to read, with a clean aesthetic and simplified layout. Don’t worry, though – we kept all the great resources, photos, stories and information we know you love. We went through all of our variety descriptions and made them more consistent, adding valuable information like fruit weight, seasonal slots, disease resistances and more. You can find this information conveniently grouped in the new Variety Features Line located between the variety name and the description. This line of information makes it easier to scan a whole section and quickly find the varieties with the features you need.

The Planting Chart

This year we made a really exciting change to the way Cultural Information is presented. In previous years, we have included all Cultural Information (which includes things like which diseases to watch out for and how to treat them, planting instructions and more) at the beginning of each section. This has mostly stayed the same as in past years, with one important difference – handy information like seed spacing, seed specs, when to plant and transplant, and how much to thin are now available for every crop type in one useful, two-sided Planting Chart that you can cut out and take with you to the garden, field, or greenhouse. Now you can have all the information you need to plant with you wherever you go, with no need to read every seed packet or hunt for spacing directions.

The FREE Shipping Policy

Click here to read about our new shipping policy!

This year we made a change to our shipping policy that we know everyone will love – it’s now free! All standard orders to the US and Canada now receive complimentary shipping, with no minimum order. Realized you forgot something important on your order, but don’t want to pay more in shipping? Don’t worry! Whether it was a small packet with 10 seeds or a quarter pound, we’ll put it in the mail for you with no shipping charges. There are a few exceptions – we still need to charge for heavy items like garlic, potatoes, and cover crops when they weigh 25 lbs or more, and we still charge to ship to non-contiguous US states and territories. Learn more about our new Shipping Policy.

The New Sizes

Commercial growers will be happy to hear that we have made many of our popular staple crops like onions, corn, carrots, beets, cabbage and more available in new large sizes. You can now order larger quantities of our Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified seeds with better bulk discounts. We also revisited many of our existing prices, and are pleased to be able to offer competitive pricing for many crop types. We believe that organic seeds have the power to change the world for the better – and our goal is to make them accessible to everyone. Making organic seeds affordable for farmers growing on a large scale is an essential step in rebuilding the healthy food system of the future.

And there’s more! But we want to leave some things a surprise, so keep an eye out for our catalogs arriving in mailboxes over the next few weeks . . .

Click here to request a copy if you haven’t already!

 

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Paper: It’s All in the Details

Catalogs are in the mail and arriving in homes in a few weeks. If you’ve seen our past catalogs, you’ll notice that this year’s catalog “feels different.” Here’s why.

One of biggest challenges in producing a print catalog with hundreds of photos of plants, produce and people is presenting them in a way that’s both clear and environmentally responsible. Interestingly enough, the two are often at odds.

Without getting into the gory details of paper production and all of the chemicals involved in producing even recycled paper, several choices we’ve always made have focused on the recycled content, the post-consumer waste content and the finish of the paper. (Note: We’re exploring alternative ink options as well.)

Inevitably, we always have to compromise on clarity and color in choosing the finish and have always gone with a recycled matte (non-glossy) paper. Before this year, we hadn’t found a coated paper that meets our standards in terms of recycled and post-consumer content. Glossy and satin finishes allow colors, details and contrast to pop, so our compromise (dull finish with less clear photos in order to maximize recycled content) has always been a real hit for us given that our customers need photos to be as representative as possible. After years of searching for alternative solutions, we are pleased to announce that we found a better solution.

So back to why this year’s catalog “feels different.”

Changes for this years catalog, and there are many which we outline in this post, include moving from using a 50% recycled Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified matte paper to 100% recycled (and recyclable), with 90% post-consumer waste content, FSC-certified clay-coated paper. The finish on the paper is what gives it a semi-glossy look and feel, helping to showcase the details in our photos. Finally.

This paper, produced by Leipa in Germany, is called ultraLux silk. Leipa is accredited with the EU Ecolabel and is “setting standards for the environmental certification of magazine paper.” (Details on environmental impact of its production can be found here.)

The point of all of this is to say that decisions around how (and with what materials) our catalog is produced are just as important to us as choices we make regarding how our seeds are bred, grown, tested and handled. We put this depth of care and attention into all areas at High Mowing and know that you count on us to do so.

Have comments or ideas for even better choices? We love customer input and welcome feedback. Feel free to email us at marketing at highmowingseeds.com. And thank you for caring about these sort of details.

Interested in helping reduce the impact of printing future catalogs? Then be sure to use our online catalog instead or browse our virtual catalog here or download a pdf version here.

 

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Kids are your Best Customers: Making your Farm Family-Friendly


Kids taking advantage of the Pick-Your-Own area at ICF

At the Intervale Community Farm (ICF, a 550-member CSA in Burlington, VT), we work hard to grow a bounty of high-quality, certified organic produce for our CSA members. Most of the resources, personnel, and energy on our farm go towards this purpose. But at the end of the season, when we survey our members to ask them what they like most about the farm, many of them say that they are ICF members because they simply like coming to the farm each week. The on-farm experience with their families is what compels them to join ICF over the many other high-quality CSA options available in our region. In particular, children love coming to our CSA pick-ups. Therefore, we’ve had to recognize that nurturing an alluring environment for the kids is an important aspect of our business.

An Inviting Atmosphere


Keep it tidy – but not too tidy! Kids love mud puddles at ICF

One challenge of inviting families to visit the farm—whether it’s for CSA pickups, pick-your-own, pizza nights, or other events—is the constant need for physical upkeep of the farm. Most members of the public aren’t compelled by typical farmyards, which, even if “tidy”, still involve sights like abandoned swaths of used row cover, piles of harvest containers, towers of greenhouse trays, unmowed field edges, and torn scraps of black plastic. Inviting the public to the farm means tidy storage and hiding some messes. It also means a regular routine of mowing, trimming, parking lot maintenance (at ICF, we stripe the parking lot to delineate parking spots), and general clean up. Depending on the size of the farm, the costs of maintaining an appealing appearance can add up quickly.

Managing Risk

Another challenge posed by incorporating visiting families into the farm business is the liability risks associated with visitors. Even the most organized farm is still full of hazards for children—implements, tractors, old barbed wire fences, rusty tomato cages, holes dug by groundhogs that could twist an ankle…the dangers are endless once you look carefully around the farm. Making sure that your farm has liability insurance—or an additional rider or policy–for visitors is critical and requires a call to your insurance agent.


Kids helping to plant sweet potato slips at ICF

Enjoy the Ride!

Finally, it’s crucial to make sure that having kids and families on your farm is fun for YOU. It can be easy to underestimate the effort and focus it takes to manage customers on your farm, and it’s worth dedicating staffing effort to create a welcoming, warm atmosphere that focuses on the visitors.

Creating a Kid-Friendly Area

Some simple infrastructure additions dramatically enhance the experience for kids visiting the farm. Investing in a very small (but incredibly well used) sandbox and asking for any unused lawn toys from farm members has vastly improved the experience small children have at ICF pick-ups. Some kids just want to come to the farm to play, and providing them with a joyful space to do so makes the experience parents have gathering their CSA share much more enjoyable.


Entrance to the Kids’ garden at ICF

Bringing kids down to the farm also means charming them into tasting the treats from the field. Planting fun, easily edible things near the visitors’ area helps them take the initiative for trying the food themselves—things like cherry tomatoes, raspberries, husk cherries, beans, and peas are good examples of kid-friendly crops. At the Intervale Community Farm, we also plant a “Kids’ Garden” with all sorts of wacky and wild plants, like giant snake gourds, Mammoth sunflowers, vines running up teepee structures, fuzzy grasses, herbs, and edible flowers.  This is a space where kids are free to pick whatever they want to without any adult oversight.

Allowing kids to sit on parked equipment is probably never very safe, but something that is a favorite activity for our young farm visitors. At the Intervale Community Farm, we generally have the tractors out of sight during CSA pick up times, but some farm members bring their kids down on off hours to carefully look at the tractors.

Ultimately, creating a kid- and family-friendly atmosphere at a farm isn’t hard, but requires a different type of energy than what we are accustomed to directing towards the field. It demands a level of aesthetic maintenance that many of us struggle to prioritize over the pressures of weed control and irrigation. Furthermore, and perhaps more


Musicians at ICF make CSA-pickups fun

importantly, welcoming families to the farm requires a social personality and willingness to slow down, smile a lot, patiently answer questions, and graciously provide a vibrant and compelling farm experience for visitors.

The rewards of having families—especially kids—at the farm are huge, both economically and emotionally. Very little can pull you away from the summer rush better than sweet little hands reaching up to pluck a cherry tomato. Who knows…maybe those little hands will eventually turn into farmer hands!

 

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Grow Your Greens Indoors with Sprouts, Shoots & Microgreens

Last chance to enter our sprouting kit giveaway! Contest ends Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at midnight! Click here to enter.

Fall is a great time to start experimenting with new flavors, taking advantage of the season’s bounty of crisp apples, tart cranberries, sweet squashes and nourishing kale. But in spite of the dropping temperatures and abundance of storage vegetables, many of us still crave regular infusions of fresh greens. Refreshing salads and sandwiches don’t need to be a signature of summer—you can keep growing greens all winter, with no greenhouse or coldframe required. In this article we’ll talk about three of our favorite ways to grow your own greens indoors, all year-round—with sprouts, shoots, and microgreens.

What Are Sprouts, Shoots, and Microgreens?

  • Sprouts are tiny leaves and shoots grown without soil by soaking and rinsing seeds with water. They are exceptionally nutritious and are a popular topping for sandwiches, salads, and in ethnic food. They are very easy to grow using either a wide mouth jar and sprouting lid or a tray sprouter, and can be produced from start to finish in 3-5 days. They are much more affordable to grow yourself than buy store-bought, and they’re fresher too! They can be grown where space and light are very limited, and come in an array of terrific flavors ranging from popular mild classics like Alfalfa and Mung Beans to full-flavored varieties like Ancient Eastern Blend and Spicy Salad Mix. We love: Mung Bean Sprouts on Authentic Pad Thai and Crunchy Bean Mix Hummus
  • Shoots are young plants grown to the cotyledon or first true-leaf stage in trays of potting soil. They are larger than sprouts and require a few more tools—a 1020


    Sunflower, Pea, and Wheatgrass Shoots Growing in a Tray

    plastic tray, drip tray, soil, and a clear germination dome (like the one in our seed starting kit) are all you need to get started. You will also need a very bright sunny (south-facing) window or grow lights to grow shoots successfully. They come in a few signature flavors that will quickly win a place at your table: Pea Shoots with yummy fresh pea flavor are delicious on pasta dishes, Sunflower Shoots with buttery, nutty flavor are delicious as sandwich or salad greens, and Wheatgrass Shoots are great for grinding to make nutritious wheatgrass juice. We love: Pea Shoots on Orechiette with Parmesan, Megen’s New England Winter Slaw, Pea Shoot, Pomegranate and Chevre Salad, and Tempeh Spring Rolls


    Mild Microgreen Mix

  • Microgreens are similar to shoots—they are small, immature plants grown to the cotyledon or true-leaf stage, and they are also grown in trays of potting soil just like shoots. They require a bright sunny (south-facing) window, grow lights, or a greenhouse to succeed. They are smaller than shoots when harvested, and come in a great array of flavors, colors and textures to add excitement to virtually any dish. Try easy-to-grow Red Beet or Red Mustard to start out with, then graduate to delicious Basil and Onion microgreens for a gourmet treat. We love: Homegrown Microgreens Salad and

Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Chevre and Basil Microgreens


Grilling zucchini slices

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/8 tsp salt

Pinch black pepper

6 oz. chevre

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced

½ tsp fresh lemon juice

2 oz. arugula or microgreens

1 cup basil microgreens

Preheat grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush zucchini slices with olive oil on both


Finished zucchini rolls

sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then grill about 4 minutes on each side until tender. Set aside, ideally on cooling racks or paper bags.

In a bowl, combine goat cheese, parsley and lemon juice with a fork until well combined.

Place about ½ tsp of the cheese mixture ½” from the end of a grilled zucchini slice. Top with arugula and microgreens and roll, making sure the seam-side ends up underneath the roll.

Serve!

 

 

 

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