High Mowing Organic Seeds started with a vision that we still hold today: It is our goal to leverage the power of seed to transform our world.
High Mowing Organic Seeds began in 1996 with just 28 varieties, many of which originated in founder Tom Stearns’ backyard. Since then, our company has grown exponentially, and what started as a one-man operation is now a thriving business making available to home gardeners and commercial growers over 600 heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrid varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seed. True to our roots, High Mowing Organic Seeds continues to source many of the varieties we sell directly from independent, passionate organic seed farmers, including from the 40 acre working farm owned and operated by Tom Stearns here in northern Vermont.
At High Mowing Organic Seeds, we believe in re-imagining what our world can be like. We believe in a deeper understanding of how re-built food systems can support health on all levels – healthy environments, healthy economies, healthy communities and healthy bodies. We believe in a hopeful and inspired view of the future based on better stewardship for our planet. Every day that we are in business, we are growing; working to provide an essential component in the re-building of our healthy food systems: the seeds.
As we've grown, we have continually worked to produce, develop and sell only the best quality organic seeds for varieties selected for their exceptional performance in organic conditions. We have expanded the selection and availability of organic seeds, we've reached out to other farmers, locally and across the country, to produce seed for us, and we've established partnerships with wholesale seed companies that have made commitments to develop and produce organic seed. In our own operation, we’ve implemented the highest quality standards for seed testing and invested our on-site lab and Quality Control department, we have purchased state-of-the art seed cleaning and sorting equipment, we have built a knowledgeable customer service team – many of whom are or were farmers – to answer customer questions, and we have created a trials and breeding program to assess and develop varieties that thrive in organic conditions.
The Story Behind Our Name
When the early European settlers came to New England, they brought with them their livestock-based agriculture. The practice of mowing hayfields and storing winter feed was well-established, and became even more important when they encountered the long winters in northern New England. But instead of calling such a field a “hayfield” like we do today, they called it a “mowing”. These fields, or mowings, were usually further identified by a descriptor referring to location: the “back mowing” was behind the farm, the “low mowing” was in the valley, and the “high mowing” was up on the hilltop. In northern Vermont, where small rivers wind their way through mountainous and hilly terrain, nearly all mowings are “high mowings”. A hundred years ago, farms on these hillsides had names like “High Mowing Farm” or “High Mowing Acres”. When our seed company first started, we not only liked the sound of “high mowing”, but it was an old, regionally specific, agricultural term that fit the kind of seed company we are: farm-based and rooted in a place.