High Mowing Organic Seeds – Giving Back

Every year, High Mowing donates a huge quantity of seeds and produce. The donations end up in the hands of recipients ranging in distance from just across the driveway to places as far-flung as Haiti. These donations are an integral part of what we do and help us achieve our goal of being good stewards to our local and not-so-local communities.

Seeds

Seeds, not surprisingly, make up a large portion of our donations. This year we donated over 54,000 packets of seeds to schools, communities, and farmer training programs. Of that total, 11,000 packets went to FoodCorps, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching kids about healthy food by building school gardens and sourcing quality local food for school cafeterias. FoodCorps has been instrumental in channeling our seeds into the hands of the food system leaders of tomorrow – next season these tiny learning tools will grow in over 300 school gardens in 15 states.

Produce

As a farm-based seed company, we grow a tremendous amount of organic produce each year. We have fields for trialing new varieties, fields for breeding new varieties, fields for growing our seed crops, and fields for showcasing the existing varieties we carry – amounting to about 40 acres all together. And even though we offer an unlimited CSA to all of our staff (and the staff of several nearby businesses), we grow far more produce than we can consume. So we do our best to make sure that as little produce is wasted as possible, and donate whenever possible. We do this in three ways:

  • We harvest our produce, then donate whatever isn’t taken home by staff
  • We work with two organization that glean produce from our fields, Salvation Farms and the Vermont Foodbank, to harvest what we can’t
  • We partner with organizations to use the fruit of seed crops after the seed is extracted

Through these means, we donated over 21,000 pounds of produce during the 2013 season. Of this total, 13,492 lbs of that produce was gathered by the Vermont Foodbank through twice-weekly volunteer gleanings from July to November, as well as from post-harvest pickups. The produce was then distributed to food shelves and pantries serving the nutritionally-insecure in the surrounding communities.

The other portion was gleaned from our fields by Salvation Farms, a local non-profit working to build food resiliency in Vermont by diverting unsalable, but still nutritious produce from the waste stream to those who need it most. Salvation Farms has started (and is working on expanding) the Vermont Commodity Project, which processes large quantities of gleaned local produce to sell at affordable prices to institutions like schools and hospitals. The produce is currently processed in an empty building at the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Southern Vermont, and Salvation Farms utilizes inmate labor from the Vermont Offender Work Program to help process the produce. The Work Program came to High Mowing this year, and during two days in the fall harvested over 8047 pounds of winter squash and 460 pounds of peppers. Phew, that’s a lot of food!

Pies and Pumpkins

Our fantastic Social Mission and Education Coordinator, Koi Boynton, who manages our Seed Donation Program, also works to make sure that excess produce goes to the right place. This year she made sure that 400 pumpkins went home with 400 local schoolchildren. She also helped organize a great annual collaboration called Pies for People. For this project fruit from our pumpkin seed crop is processed by Pete’s Greens, then taken up to Sterling College where student volunteers turn it into pie filling and make crust using donated King Arthur Flour and Cabot Creamery butter. This year the resulting 180 pies were distributed to hungry Vermonters through the Center for the Agricultural Economy and Greater Hardwick Foodbank. We are so happy to continue this collaboration each year and look forward to supporting our community in even more ways in the future!

If you are involved in a organization that is interested in receiving seed donations, please contact us using our online donation form.

This entry was posted in About High Mowing Organic Seeds, Farm Ethics, Kids and Gardening. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to High Mowing Organic Seeds – Giving Back

  1. Dan Rubin says:

    Hello. I recently ordered seeds from you folks, and have been aware of you for some time, through stories about rural renewal in Vermont. I live in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, just north of St. John’s where I have started a small seed operation, Perfectly Perennial, which is currently expanding, with funding from the Bauta Family Seed Initiative to become a major seed site for Atlantic Canada. Even though our climate is a lot colder than Vermont, we have had some luck with crops like globe artichokes, corn and peaches by creating micro environments. We are located in a windy, waterfront location on the open Atlantic. With three neighbouring properties we are setting up a non-profit group to manage our shared garden space, and looking for new true breeding varieties of food plants to add to our collection, which will then be shared through the seed we produce, with other growers in our area. We would be interested in being in touch with you and seeking your help and experience in selecting plants to raise. We are particularly interested in finding varieties of cucurbits (especially winter squashes), brassicas, sweet potatoes, grains and varieties of garlic and onion. We can exchange with you as well. We have had great luck here with a type of flat leaved Russian kale, a local heirloom variety of Egyptian onions and Newfoundland has some unique strains of potatoes (blue, red and white) to share. Please contact us by email or by telephone (709-335-2340), and check out our infant website, which is still under development. – Dan

  2. I am doing a Seed Swap at my farm Feb 15th 4pm hosting with Texas Young Farmers Coalition do you have and free seed to donate? 737 Opal Lane Kyle tx Certified Organic for 25 years.

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