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Here at High Mowing Organic Seeds, located in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the seasons change very quickly. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing in our fall seed harvest and here we are at the tail end of another sales season and back outside planting once again.
We would like to introduce our newly formatted newsletter as a forum where we take some time to let you, our friends, colleagues, and customers, know who we are and what we are up to on the farm, in the news, and within the agricultural community at large. We hope you can find some time to sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy our newsletter.
Thank you all for a terrific sales season, we couldn't do it without you!
Not only were we busy with sales but we had many new members join the High Mowing family. It has been a very busy year indeed - Babies, babies, babies! The future of organic growing!
left to right: group shot with Sage Rowland, Annabelle and Lila; Lila Rose; Annabelle with mom & dad; Heather & Ella;
and Jeremy & Shiloh. Not pictured: Micah Racusin and Mikayla Kopulos
From the Prez
Dear High Mowing customers and friends,
Now that spring is really here I find that it is time for tasks the busy winter did not allow. Deep cleaning the warehouse, starting up the newsletter again as well as evaluating where we are going as a company. It has been another big year for us, filled with successes as well as challenges and just like last year’s growing season, it was filled with unpredictable events. We all try to respond to these events the best way we know how, they test our resiliency and remind us to be prepared for anything. As we all begin another growing season here in Vermont and around the country, we are also preparing to face the unexpected. Weather is of course the big unknown, but also our markets, equipment, labor, pests and diseases. It is my hope that you will find that our organic seed quality is not one of the unknowns for you, but rather it is something that you can count on to be consistently above average. There are already enough unknowns that we will need to respond to, it is my hope for all of us that we are ready and able to do our best. Let us know if we can help.
Sincerely,photo: Tom Stearns, Founder and President
Founder and President
View from the Fields
After a long break in the monthly farm forum, due to winter and just being plain busy, we are back in the fields and your inbox. We have been on the move since the first week of March when two varieties of broccoli were started in our new research greenhouse.
Since then we have planted a smorgasbord of seed crops ranging from peppers, tomatoes, squashes, onions, corns, beans, melons, cucumbers and a bunch of strange greens with even stranger names that the crew can not even pronounce, like Shungiku, and many more. At present we are done with seeding in the greenhouse and just in time since the radio has lost power to play at a high enough volume to hear over the fans. The crew may have cried mutiny!
High Mowing has recently purchased a new waterwheel transplanter, which will allow us to transplant, water, and add a little fish juice right into plastic. This is very exciting knowing that about 5 acres of plants will not need to be planted by hand.
The 2007 High Mowing Organic Seed trial gardens are well underway. Like last year our first few planting weeks have been filled with rain, lightning, and thunder, luckily not as torrential as last season. We have just over 1000 varieties in the 2007 trials. Some main crop types are a Asian greens, leaf lettuce, large romaine, heat tolerant greens, specialty tomatoes, red slicing tomatoes (hybrid and OP), hybrid onions, hybrid peppers, hot peppers, specialty summer squashes, specialty pumpkins, and Asian melons, to name a few. We have two field days scheduled: Wednesday, July 11, and Wednesday, September 12, both will be held at 5:30pm-7:30pm. We will have a garden tour, taste test and plenty of time to chat about varieties and growing techniques.
In 2006 we performed a soybean trial for VT Soy Company located in Hardwick, VT (right next door) to find viable edible soybean varieties that can be grown successfully in Lamoille County, VT. We looked at nine varieties of soybeans that were noted to do well in our climate. In 2007, UVM extension’s Heather Darby will be facilitating a replicated trial hosted at our trial grounds as an extension of last years trial. Again the VT Soy Company has been the main motivator behind the trials, in order to find viable varieties for local farmers to produce an adequate amount of soybeans for their successful soy based food production. Heather Darby will be presenting this trial at the September field days for all that are interested.
Hope to see you at the field days!
Heather Jerrettphotos: Prize Choy; Katie in the Greenhouse; Waterwheel Transplanter; Trials Crew: Megen Toaldo, Maria Evans, and Sam Tischler; Sue Kazas not shown; Heather Jerret, Trials Manager
High Mowing Organic Seeds is proud to announce that its USDA-Small Business Innovation Research Phase I Proposal has been approved. The project is entitled “Plant hybrid seed production techniques for Cucubita pepo in organic agricultural systems.” The project was designed and submitted by Dr. Jodi Lew-Smith, Director of Research at High Mowing Organic Seeds, with the goal of furthering knowledge on production of high-quality hybrid seed specifically for organic vegetable growers. For the extended press release click here.photo: Jodi Lew-Smith, Director of Research
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." -Albert Einstein
As a small, family owned company we are always learning new ways to maintain our balance and continue our sustained growth. This is no easy feat! As growers, many of you know, the long winter months are the time to grab a cup of tea, open up your pile of seed catalogs, and make your seed wish list. For us, it is a frenzy of getting seed prepped, packed and ready to send. With record cold temperatures and piggyback snow storms this past winter just getting up the hill to work was tough!
At High Mowing Organic Seeds we believe that the community around us helps strengthen us as individuals, as friends, as family members and as a company. That’s why we believe in supporting our communities as best we can. This includes both the organic growing community and the organizations and people in our backyard.
This past April High Mowing Organic Seeds was honored by the Vermont Small Business Development Center as the Socially Responsible Business of the Year. This award was given due to our significant commitment to not only sustainable agricultural practices but also sustainable business practices. We were thrilled to be recognized for our hard work and the crew from HMS headed to the capital city (Montpelier, VT) for a congratulatory breakfast and handshake with the Governor!
What's Been Keeping Us Busy
photo: Alex Chamberlain, Marketing Manager
We partnered with Vital Communities at Taste of the Valley. Vital Communities works to engage citizens in community life by fostering a long-term balance of cultural, economic, environmental and social well-being in our region. By working with them and donating seed at this all day event we helped educate and highlight the benefits of supporting local farmers, producers, and businesses.
Seed Starting Events
This was our first year to hold seed starting events with some local cooperative markets. We had a great turnout and are looking forward to our fall seed saving events.
Farm & Forest Forum
June 9, 2007
The Farm & Forest Forum was sponsored by the Lamoille County Natural Resources Conservation District & Nature Center (LCNRCD) as part of their Lamoille Valley Farm and Forest Initiative. The initiative is comprised of a series of projects that support the working landscape and advocate for a farm and forest lands-based economy for the Lamoille County Watershed. Tom presented upon the benefits of Growing With Your Market by highlighting the best practices of maintaining a sustainable company from concept to daily execution in an ever changing marketplace.
Local Agricultural Community Exchange (LACE)
June 10, 2007
High Mowing Organic Seeds was proud to partner with Local Agricultural Community Exchange (LACE) for their June 10th grand opening! The festivities kicked off with two sold out Jackson Browne concerts at the Barre Opera House. LACE is a new market located in Barre, VT that offers an extensive selection of Vermont produced foods. From educating customers about the benefits of locally produced foods to creating a distribution infrastructure for local farmers and producers LACE is a welcome addition to the Vermont business landscape!
We have donated over 5,000 packets of vegetable, flower and herb seed to elementary, high school and college/university school gardens, community gardens, organic growing organizations, and hunger relief organizations. It is amazing the experience and education one person gets from a seed. "We were like kids at Christmas when we opened your seeds! These seeds will be planted by some enthusiastic urban youth to feed themselves and their neighborhood. We appreciate your generosity and commitment to providing high quality organic seed to us and the rest of the world!" Diane Picard, Director of Massachusetts Avenue Project. If you are interested in learning more about our donation program, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- High Mowing at Local Farmers Markets (Vermont)
- Vermont Fresh Network, Local Food Forum (Shelburne, VT)
- NOFA Summer Conference (Amherst, MA)
- Common Ground Fair (Unity, ME)
In the Next Issue…
- HMS to take Localvore Company Challenge!
- 2008 Catalog development in full swing!
- HMS first Field Day of the season