Welcome to the February edition of the Seed Bin - High Mowing Seeds Online Newsletter!
At long last, a full-blown edition of the Seed Bin is off the presses! It has been a whirlwind of a winter here at High Mowing Seeds. This autumn's move to our new facilities brought with it months of work reconfiguring our systems and setting up operating infrastrucutre. This happened at the same time that we were putting together our 2006 catalog, our biggest, brightest, best catalog ever, featuring many new varieties, and for the first time, hybrid varieties
, as well as a full selection of tools and supplies
for growers and gardeners alike. Our website went through a transition of comparable scale, as, under the guidance of Gregg Banse of 7th Pixel
, we made the switch to a much more powerful, in-house e-commerce platform. Of course, it took considerably more time to put everything in place to get the catalog on the web and in your hands; now that we have all that behind us, you can look forward to a regular schedule of feature-length monthly Seed Bin newsletters.
In addition to all of these changes, we have switched to a new mailing service for our newsletter to improve the accuracy and speed with which the newsletters are sent. If you have trouble receiving this newsletter, it may be because you have a spam filter set up on your email account. If this is the case, please see your filtering software or email host's directions on modifying your filter, or contact us
, and we can help you sort it out.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy your winter!
In This Issue:
- Sustainable Agriculture Resources on the Web
- Pathology Report from HMS Plant Pathologist Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith
- Recipe of the month, and more!
Sustainable Agriculture Resources on the Web
Chances are that if you are reading this, you are already aware of the benefits of sustainable agriculture, and are probably an agriculturalist yourself. But whether you are a backyard gardener or a commercial grower, gaining support and information in what is a challenging and rapidly-developing field is always welcome, and if you are facing problems with your endeavors, tapping into the right resource can be the difference between success and failure. Since, for many of us, winter is the off-season, what better time to catch up on research and read up on the answers to our burning questions than now, before the busy growing season hits? With this in mind, we have listed five of the best sustainable and organic agriculture resources on the web; whether you are a grower or a consumer, a researcher or an educator, there is a source on this list that can help you personally and professionally.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program (http://www.sare.org/)
- Part of USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, SARE program is managed in partnership with regional land grant hosts, and funds projects and conducts outreach designed to improve agricultural systems.
The SARE website gives grant application information, provides access to all published grant reports, gives program highlights and farm success stories, offers a calendar of sustainable agriculture events, and provides a comprehensive list of publications on a variety of topics in a variety of formats. The website is also organized to provide information on grants, publications, and other resources for Consumers, Farmers and Ranchers, Researchers, and Educators.
Both online and in real-world practice, SARE is a tremendous resource for the entire sustainable agricultural community, on-farm and off. Grants from the SARE program are administered nationally for scientists, producers, Cooperative Extension Service staff and other agriculture professionals, farmers and ranchers, graduate students, community development practitioners, and agriculture educators conducting on-farm research.
Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (http://www.attra.org/)
was created and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and is funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. It provides information and other technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, Extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States.
ATTRA's website is a wealth of information across the sustainable agricultural spectrum. An information and resource clearinghouse, among the items to be found on their site are a large collection of online technical publications, regional and topical resource guides, a calendar of events, funding opportunity notices, news updates, and other resource links. While it is primarily a resource for agricultural professionals, ATTRA's online publications are also a terrific resource for home gardeners.
Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) (http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/)
specializes in identifying and accessing information related to alternative agricultural enterprises and crops as well as alternative cropping systems. Their website offers extensive access to a wide variety of online publications, including USDA research bulletins and publications, on a wide variety of topics, including IPM techniques, aquaculture, organic production, livestock management, alternative energy, small farms, and much more. Also featured is a terrific resource section that provides links to virtually ever sector of the sustainable agriculture community, organized by both topic ("sustainable agriculture", "alternative marketing") and type ("research organizations" "educational organizations"). If you can't find what you're looking for on this site, you can find a link to a place that does.
, developed by the organic pioneers of the Rodale Institute (http://www.rodaleinstitute.org)
is clearly designed with producers in mind; offerings include a terrific wealth of technical information, a training section for growers, online talk forums on a variety of agriculture-related topics, news and reports on organic and sustainable agriculture projects across the world, and an online classifieds section. Perhaps the most powerful features on the site are the directories; the resource directory offers literally hundreds of listings, all organized in a number of categories and fully searchable with defined criteria. The OPX and Grassroots OPX provide the organic community - from farmers to the USDA - with regularly-updated information on wholesale organic pricing across the country. It allows for crop-specific searches in a variety of markets, and allows comparisons of up to four markets in one search. The Farm Locator is another comprehensive and powerful tool for all elements of the organic commerce industry; its database of providers is searchable in four ways: a consumer search shows farms who offer direct sales to consumers; a farmer-to-farmer search shows farms who offer products or services to other farms; a farmer-to-seller search shows farms who sell to commercial retailers such as restaurants, retailers, or wholesalers, and; a businesses-to-buyers search allows B2B connections outside of the farming spectrum for those looking to trade in agricultural products. Finally, a searchable Certifier Directory is a valuable tool for those seeking a certifier for their farm or product.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) (http://www.organicconsumers.org)
is an online and grassroots non-profit public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. The OCA is the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers. The OCA website is a clearinghouse of information in the form of news, publications, links, and other resources, on issues ranging from genetic engineering to food safety, fair trade to national agriculture politics, children's health to globalization. Other features include a large community events listing, agriculture action campaigns, and a listing of directories of eco-friendly products, services, and organizations. While targeted to consumers, the information is relevant to all involved in the organics industry.
Most states have sustainable agriculture centers or resource groups available through their state agricultural extension agencies, and the information found there is often provided by local specialists and is tailored to local economic, environmental, and agricultural conditions.
Do you have a favorite online resource for organic and sustainable agriculture? Is there place you turn for news, views, and information that you'd like to share? Let us know
what you've found, and we'll share your findings in the next edition of the Seed Bin. Keep the information flowing!
Pathology Report for Feburary 2006
by HMS Plant Pathologist Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith
The Dream of a Seed Disease Database
In the depths of winter I finally get back to all the projects I ran out of time for last winter…. This year I'm looking back at the work we did last year on building an online "Seed Disease Database." I gave the database this name because I intended it to be a comprehensive resource for seed growers; however, the database contains all the vegetable disease information that any vegetable grower could hope to find. If you think about it for a moment, you'll realize that, in order to get any plant to live and thrive long enough to make seed, a seed grower must understand and allay the same suite of diseases that vegetable growers contend with every year. Only a seed grower must then contend with a second suite of diseases unique to the seed production stage of plant growth.
The database is intended to be free and available to the public, and to contain images of disease organisms both on plants and in culture, as well as text on key diagnostic features, to assist both farmers and diagnosticians in sorting out one pathogen from another. This kind of information is sorely lacking online, at least in any one comprehensive format. Unfortunately, though, the funding for building an ambitious database such as this one is also sorely lacking. High Mowing has footed the bill for the creation of the skeleton, or infrastructure, for the database, but now it requires an influx of time and energy to populate the database with all the thousands of images that correspond to all the possible combinations of crops and pathogens. The dream remains alive, though, and we will continue to seek grant funding for the project, hoping that some summer in the not-too-distant future, the database will become an old friend with whom you routinely consult for diagnostic assistance in your fields and gardens.
Recipe of the Month
February is a good time for carrots. The better keepers are still crisp in the root cellar and prime for eating before they get too punky, the sweet flavor complements any hearty winter soup, stew, or sautee, and the color is a welcome break from the sometimes colorless monotony of the winter landscape. We celebrate the carrot this month with two great recipies!
Carrot Ginger Soup
1/4 c Butter
2 md Onions; chopped
2 tb Grated peeled fresh gingerroot
1 1/2 lb Carrots; peeled and thinly sliced
6 c Chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1/2 ts Salt
1/2 ts Black pepper
1. In 4 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add gingerroot and cook 2 minutes longer.
2. Add carrots and chicken stock to onions; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook carrots until tender, 15 to 20
3. In blender, blend carrot mixture, in batches, until smooth. Return soup to saucepan and add salt and pepper. [Editor's note: a 1/4 cup of cream mixed in at this point will greatly add to the body of the soup] Heat soup over low heat until hot. Ladle into bowls and serve. Serves 8.
Honey-Glazed Carrots with Brandy
1-2 pounds carrots
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. brandy
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Parboil carrots until tender, 1-4 minutes; drain. In a skillet place carrots and remaining ingredients and heat over medium-low flame. Stir until carrots are glazed and glossy, and serve.
Read a Previous Seed Bin Issue
Looking for an old article or recipe? You can read old issues of the Seed Bin here
. Please note that Sale items listed in these archival issues are no longer valid.
Let's Make it Better
This is your newsletter, not ours - we just write it. Just as your comments, questions, concerns, and field experience have helped to guide our business in every way, from variety selection to customer service, we rely on your feedback to guide the creation of a publication that is informative, inspirational, entertaining, and enjoyable to read. What would you like to see more or less of? Technical advice? Seed saving tips? Tools and techniques? Information about High Mowing Seeds? We want to give you what you want, so please let us hear from you! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
with your comments, critiques, and questions.
Thanks for reading - and responding!
Jacob Racusin - General Editor
Jodi Lew-Smith - Technical, Pathology Editor