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


This is a personal invitation to High Mowing Organic Seeds'......                            



2007 September Field Days

Wed., September 12th,



at our trial grounds on Marsh Rd. in Wolcott, VT 

(off Rt 15 between Hardwick and Wolcott)



Main Event - 5:30-7:30pm

Walk our 2+ acre variety trials, where we showcase hundreds of varieties.  You will see not only the varieties HMS offers but market standards and new and upcoming varieties trialed side by side.  Tom Stearns, Founder of High Mowing Organic Seeds, will lead a comprehensive tour, while Heather Jerrett, Trials Coordinator and Jodi Lew-Smith, Director of Research and Production will be available for questions along the tour.  Jodi Lew-Smith will also be talking about our breeding program and the exciting new varieties we are creating.  This is a chance for you to see what we are up to, but also a great chance for us to get feedback from you!  We also welcome you to participate in taste tests, enjoy an evening corn roast with food and refreshments provided from our farm and from American Flatbread, Liz Lovely Vegan Cookies, Pop Soda, Red Hen Bakery, Rock Art Brewery, Vermont Milk Company & Vermont Soy. For more info contact Heather Jerrett at 802-472-6174.



Hope to see you there!


Other events happening on this day:


2:00-5:00pm - Gleaning Workshop  

NOFA Summer Workshop featuring Salvation Farms will be hosting "Hands On, How To Glean”. This interactive session with Theresa Snow, Director and Founder of SF, will focus on how to set up your own gleaning project in your community.  Hand outs will be available to take home.  In 2006 SF gleaned over 7,000 lbs of marketable produce from our trial fields.  All produce is donated to various non-profit organizations that support local hunger relief efforts, the Food Shelf being the largest donation site.  High Mowing Organic Seeds was presented with the 2007 Sustainable Business of the Year Award from the Small Business Development Center of Central Vermont, in response to our donation efforts with Salvation Farms and our packet donation program to various garden projects in our backyard and throughout the country. Contact Teresa Snow for more details at 802-888-5055 or check out their website at Salvationfarms.org 


4:30-5:30pm - Composting Workshop

Terry Solomon from the Vermont Compost Company will host a workshop on composting.  Learn the benefit of composting and how to do it more effectively.  Vermont Compost Company offers an extensive product line of high quality compost and professional potting soils.  Learn from the experts how produce high quality soil amendments at home and on the farm...


6:30-6:45ish - Soybean Trial Discussion

2007 Soybean Trial with UVM and Vermont Soy of Hardwick, VT.  Heather Darby, UVM Extension, and Andrew Meyer from VT Soy will be available to discuss the main objectives of this trial, UVM's interest, and the VT Soy's interest in finding local growers to produce soybeans to use in thier locally processed soy products.  They will also bring plenty of soy milk samples for everyone to try!



Follow Rt. 15 (west from Hardwick or east from Wolcott). Head north on Marsh Rd. (a right turn from Hardwick or a left turn from Wolcott). Go up the hill and follow the road as it curves left. You’ll see the hoophouses and tent on the left hand side. Park on the road. If you have questions, call us at 802-472-6174 .


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Tom Stearns leading the tour at our July 31 Field Days.


Jodi Lew-Smith talking to growers about our zucchini
breeding projcect.


Heather Jerrett talking to local growers about Onions at our
July 31 Field Days.


View of the Trials Garden.

Notes From Tom


September...the month that means summer is coming to a close.  I hope that this newsletter reaches you as you are harvesting the bounty of your gardens and farms. I was struck a while back when a good friend and commercial grower customer of ours, gave me a cantaloupe as a gift.  Our melons are not yet ready up in the Northeast Kingdom, but he farms in Burlington which is much warmer even though it is only an hour or so away.  I loved eating it but it felt a bit like cheating.  I have been looking forward to our fresh melons for weeks; watching them grow and checking them when I knew they were still not ready.  When all of a sudden someone hands me a ripe one out of nowhere!  It is a great challenge to get a crop earlier with extending the season and nurturing it along, but isn't it also great to get it at just the right time.  This September I am trying to enjoy everything that is right here before me because we all know that regardless if it is “early” or “late” it is gift.  A gift of long days and hard work but a gift nonetheless.  I hope you enjoy the gifts of your remaining summer days…  

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Tom Stearns, President

View From the Fields

Katie Traube, Field Crew Manager

Heather Jerrett, Trials Manager


Is it fall yet?  We are sure feeling some cool temps here in northern VT. We had night time temps in 30s a few weeks ago, and heard it reached 20s in Maine. It seems to be slightly warming up but August did not give us the consistent hot summer days of the past, and July was loaded with rainy storms.  In any case, not much we can do but keep our fingers crossed that the melon, pumpkin and squash seed crops reach full maturity in time.



Overall the Farm looks great!   We have managed to keep the weeds at bay successfully and all necessary areas were cover cropped on time.  We are just turning in our peas, oats and vetch for next years production areas. We spent much of July and August pollinating our hybrid seed crops Sugar Dumpling F1 and Sunkist F1 tomato.  Every morning plants need to be hand pollinated and then closed with twist ties for the following days pollinations to keep the bees out. Mid-July through early August also gave us some much needed heat to get the melons, pumpkins and winter squashes covering the ground. 



We have a good amount of fruit set on our Red Kuri crop and Burgess Buttercup crop, two of our largest seed crops this season. Tom Thumb popcorn is drying nicely in the field.  Katie and her crew are doing the first tomato and pepper harvests of the year as well as bringing in Wild Arugula to the greenhouse to dry. They will be planting next year’s Chive and Evergreen Hardy bunching onion crop this week. Now it is just waiting for full harvest season to kick in……”We can’t wait!”



The trial gardens also look great! Megen and her crew have been keeping up with the weeds, getting cover crop planted as well as all fall plantings.  Pollinations took up most of July and early August focusing on Pumpkin, Zucchini, Acorn, and Butternut squash breeding projects. The trials crew also helped out with the Sunkist F1 tomato pollinations (because it is such a neat thing to do). 



This summer Salvation Farms (a non-profit affiliate who gleans our trial grounds and donates to the food bank) brought a number of kids’ groups to our fields.  HMS intern Sam Tischler had the chance to work with them twice a week, harvesting, weeding and planting cover crop.  This was a great success, and the kids had a blast.  Hope to see you all again next year!



Our July field days were event was the best one yet!  We had about 40 attendees breaking up into small groups to tour the 2 acre field of mixed vegetable crops and breeding projects.  We had a mixed crowd of home gardeners and market growers.  The cucumber taste test gave us some good feed back on flavor and texture, and just the chance to hang out with our customers is always a treat.  If you have any suggestions for field day events please send them to questions@highmowingseeds.com with the subject line reading Field Days (this is the only way I can sort them out of junk mail).  Thanks again, and hope to see you all at the next Field Days on September 12…5:30-7:30.  We will also be having a hot pepper taste test later in September.  We will keep you posted for dates as we are watching the peppers closely for maturity.


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One of our July storms
One of our July storms.
Bob Schlosser turning in cover crop
First 2007 Harvest, Wild Arugula
Spreading Wild Arugula out to dry on tarp
2007 Red Kuri Crop
Lamoille Valley Farmily Center Kids Group
Cucumber taste tests

Research at HMS
Jodi Lew-Smith, PhD, Director of Research


This is an exciting year for research at High Mowing Seeds.  In May of this year we received an $80,000 research grant from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program of the USDA for a project entitled “Hybrid Seed Production Techniques for Cucurbita pepo in Organic Agricultural Systems.” The project proposes to assess the feasibility of developing a commercially-viable means to produce organic hybrid squash seed.


As most of you know, a ‘hybrid’ refers to the particular offspring of two genetically-different parent plants.  In certain crop types, hybrids are more uniform, more vigorous, earlier, and more disease-resistant than either of the parent plants. These effects are due to several factors. In some cases it is possible to combine different genes for disease resistance in a hybrid that could not be easily combined in either of the parent plants. In other cases, the hybrid offspring exhibits excessive vigor over either parent due to a phenomenon called ‘heterosis,’ better known as hybrid vigor. No one knows exactly what caused hybrid vigor, but just about everyone agrees that it is a powerful phenomenon. Amongst vegetable crops, hybrid vigor is most notable in corn, but is of importance in squashes, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, onions, leeks, and carrots.


To make a hybrid, the two parent plants must be grown in close proximity and it must be assured that all of the seed harvested from the female parent plants has been fertilized by the pollen of the male parent plants, and not by the pollen produced by the female parent, who, in squash, will make both male and female flowers. Thus, the female parent must be “emasculated” in one manner or another. The most labor-intensive means is to actually pull off all the male flowers from the female plants, which can take many many hours in a commercial-scale field.


To reduce these labor costs, conventional hybrid squash seed producers enlist the aid of a synthetic substance called ethephon. Ethephon, which is known to stimulate the plant hormone ethylene, is sprayed on young squash plants and chemically emasculates the plants by inhibiting male flower formation and/or stimulating female flower formation.  As ethephon is a synthetic chemical, however, it is not permissible, nor compatible with, organic agricultural systems. 


However the natural plant hormone ethylene, which takes the form of a gas, is allowable in organic systems for certain uses, such as citrus de-greening, banana ripening, and floral induction in pineapple. As these uses are in alignment with floral induction in squash, and thus might become allowable in the future, we decided to see whether ethylene gas itself might play a role in making hybrid squash seed production more viable. We thus proposed to test the effects of several ethylene treatments on squash plants in different stages of growth to determine whether female flowers could be stimulated and male flowers suppressed.


The experiment is in progress as I write this, and we all await the results!  I’ll keep you posted. Until then, be well, do good work, and grow more vegetables.


In other Research News....


Cornell Vegetable Breeders Institute – Ithaca, NY


At this time of year we always have a lot going on at the farm, but there is also a lot going on at other farms and research centers.  Annually we attend the Cornell Vegetable Breeders Institute (VBI), in Ithaca, NY.  The VBI is collaboration with the university and independent companies that fund a portion of the applied plant breeding projects at Cornell.  In return, companies have access to breeding material as well as finished varieties (Success PM summer squash, Marketmore 76 cucumber, and REBA bush acorn winter squash to name a few we offer in the HMS catalog).  This is a great chance for High Mowing to learn about breeding techniques, available material, and interact with a research community.  We are also able to visit with colleagues from around the world, rejuvenating established relationships and starting new ones.  Jodi Lew-Smith and Heather Jerrett represented High Mowing Seeds as our Research and Development team.  They came back with many stories and fresh ideas that you may see in the near future. 


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Research Assistant Craig Slaughter pollinating
hybrid Sugar Dumpling F1 winter squash.



Female parents in field.


Incubation chamber.

What We've Been Up to This Summer...


Visit by Vermont 's Govenor Jim Douglas!

We have been extremely busy working in our production fields and when we are not on the farm we are working with organizations to support local food production.  At one such event, I met Vermont Governor, Jim Douglas.  His interest in our efforts as a small, family owned Vermont company warranted a visit and he stopped by for an afternoon tour of the farm and warehouse. 

Govenor Jim Douglas and Tom
Stearns at our Trials Gardens
August 1-  Localvore Kickoff Event- Montpelier , VT

A Localvore is someone who eats locally grown or raised food.  This summer we sponsored the Localvore Challenge Kickoff by participating in the Central Valley Localvore local food Kickoff-Cook-Off.  Several Montpelier restaurants (Restaurant Phoebe, Black Door RestaurantPositive Pie II, Ariel's Restaurant, Kismet, Farmhouse Cafe, Butterfly Bakery, VT FoodBank & New England Culinary Institute) participated with delicious meals all featuring completely local ingredients.  Although it was a great opportunity to talk with community members about supporting local growers and producers the food was the highlight.  High Mowing initiated a Leadership Challenge asking other local companies and leaders in the Vermont community to participate by eating only local food for a week with co-workers and employees.  Being a seed company with abundant produce growing in our trial fields it was not hard for us to do!  Governor Douglas and other government officials also participated in the challenge!

August 4-  Capital City Farmers Market-Montpelier, VT(The only capital city in the United States without a fast food restaurant!)

With over 40 local vendors this market is bustling!  From local produce to dyed wool there is something for everyone.  We had a fun filled morning sponsoring the market with seed art!  Give a child seeds, paper, glue and glitter and the results are amazing!  By mid morning it seemed like every child (and grandmother!) in town was at our table creating a masterpiece!

August 5- 12th Annual Vermont Fresh Forum & 1st National RAFT Picnic- Shelburne, VT

20 of Vermont’s finest chefs presented an astounding array of local food to celebrate Vermont’s vibrant agricultural community and rich culinary heritage.  This event launched the first “Eat It To Save It” RAFT (Renewing American Food Traditions) picnic.  Gary Paul Nabhan, Ph.D, founder of RAFT, shared his experiences as the country’s first eco-gastronomic conservationist.  We partnered with Pete’s Greens of Craftsbury, Vermont (www.petesgreens.com) and Jeff Egan of the Cliff House of Stowe, Vermont (5781 Mountain Rd. 802-253-3000).  The evening was a success with over 350 people in attendance, all receiving a High Mowing Organic seed packet and delicious local food on the shore of Lake Champlain at Shelburne Farms.  Ahhh summer!

August 9-12 American Community Gardening Association 28th Annual Conference- Boston, MA

The ACGA Annual Conference brings together hundreds of individuals from across the United States, Canada, and abroad, who are engaged in all aspects of gardening and greening.  This 3 day event is non-stop with workshops, speakers, films and visits to community gardens and parks throughout the area.  One of our missions at High Mowing Organic Seeds is to help educate and support communities that want to grow their own organic food.  This year one of the field trips was to United Teen Equality Center a community garden which we have donated seeds and dial seeders.  Tony, our Shipping Manager, attended the event and had a great time meeting active members of the community garden movement.

August 10-12 Northeast Organic Farmers Association 33rd Annual Summer Conference (NOFA)

Summer is a great time for us to get out of the office, out of the field and out to meet face to face with many of our customers.  One of our favorite places to do this is at the NOFA summer conference!  We attended the 33rd annual NOFA summer conference at Hampshire College in Amherst and had a relaxing three days of learning, fun, and community. It was a great opportunity to see so many of the faces we talk to on the phone or get orders from through the web and meet people who were learning about High Mowing for the first time.  People were very appreciative of the seed samples we were giving away and one woman took several packets home for a neighbor who was getting into gardening for the first time. It was also a wonderful opportunity to tour some of the farms in the Pioneer Valley and sample produce from roadside stands. We encountered the “Be a Local Hero: Buy Local” bumper stickers all over – from the places you would expect – like the NOFA conference parking lot, to the places you wouldn’t – like an old-time neighborhood corner store, that was featuring local organic produce. The weekend was an invigorating boost in the middle of the busy growing season.

August 30 Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility Networking Get-Together

As members of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (www.vbsr.org) we have attended many networking get-togethers; gleaning knowledge and advice from other emerging and established socially responsible companies in Vermont.  We hosted 40 people at our trial gardens and Tom presented the history of High Mowing Organic Seeds.  He discussed the challenges and the joys of growing a small family-owned seed company, from a hobby with only 10 varieties over 12 years ago, to a resource for commercial growers and home gardeners with over 350 varieties today.


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Tom Stearns addressing the August 30th VBSR meeting.

Upcoming and Ongoing Events

Upcoming Events

  • High Mowing Organic Seeds Field Day with compost workshop from Vermont Compost Wolcott, VT9/12
  • High Mowing Hot Pepper Taste Test - Date to be determined (dependent on pepper maturity). 
  • High Mowing at Local Farmers Markets; VT
  • Common Ground Fair; Find us in the Agriculture Demo tent, and look for presentations by Heather Jerrett ("Breed Your Perfect Tomato") and Tom Stearns ("Cucurbit Breeding Basics"). 9/21-23,Unity, ME


Ongoing Events


  • Seed Starting/Saving - 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.
  • Donations - 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. If you are interested in learning more about our donation program, please send me an email alex@highmowingseeds.com.

HMS in the Media

Burlington Free Press - Sunday, April 1, 2007

With business growing Tom looked to other local companies as a resource to learn how to maintain and manage his business with hands-on advice and creative problem solving.  This outreach proved to be a much needed tool for other businesses and created a cost effective networking forum.


Feature Business Section of the Burlington Free Press - August 6, 2007

High Mowing finds a niche market.  A business profile of High Mowing through the years.


Vermont Public Radio interview - August 23, 2007

Broadcast featuring RAFT (Renewing American Food Traditions) Gary Paul Nabhan, Ph.D., renowned author, lecturer, and conservation scientist shares his experience as the founder of the country's first eco-gastronomic conservation project, Seed Savers Exchange and High Mowing discuss saving regional seed varieties

VT Business Magazine – feature, August 25, 2007

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Sour Apple Ginger Kim Chi

10c thinly sliced or shredded green cabbage, 1 medium head

1c onion, thinly diced or shredded

4 green apples, shredded

1/4c ginger, shredded

1c kohlrabi, shredded (optional)

1c carrots, shredded

1/3 c coarse sea salt

Toss cabbage with salt and let sit for ½ hour.  Pound cabbage with wooden mallet or blunt tree branch, at least 2-3” in diameter (clean branch before using), until juices start coming out.  Add all other ingredients, toss, and let sit for ½ hr.  In increments put kim chi in quart glass jars, or ceramic vessel.  Pound in each increment to stuff jar as tight as possible up to the top, leaving ½” space for juices and air.  Let sit for 5-30 days in 45-50°F, after desired fermentation store in fridge.  Stores well for 3-7 mos, or longer. 


Three Sisters Soup

3 cups black turtle beans

3 delicata squash

2 c corn kernels

2-  13 oz onions

2 heads of garlic

4 T of ghee or butter

1 1/2t cumin

1 1/2 t cayenne

2 T vinegar

1T salt

bay leaf

Soak the beans overnight, discard soaking water and cover with fresh water, bay leaf and 2t salt -cook over medium heat until beans are firm but done (approximately 2 hours but depends on the age of the beans). Slice onions thinly and saute with garlic in ghee/butter for 15 min.  Peel the squash (this takes time), slice into small pieces and add to the onions.  Also add the cumin, cayenne and 1t salt. Cover and cook 15 min or until the squash is soft.  Puree half the beans and the squash /onion mix. Add water to help with the puree process and to get the right consistency.  Add the corn and the rest of the beans and simmer on low for 5 min.  Delicious!  


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76 Quarry Road :: Wolcott, VT 05680 :: toll free: 866-735-4454 :: fax: 802-472-3201
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