About Our Seeds

Quality Control

“‘Tom [Stearns, founder of High Mowing Organic Seeds] understands how important seed quality is,’ says Matthew Dillon, executive director of the Washington-based nonprofit Organic Seed Alliance, which works with farmers, university researchers and seed companies to increase genetic diversity and adaptability of seed varieties, ‘He works hard to make sure his seeds are disease-free and have good germination, as well as good genetics. He really makes an investment in these areas.’”
Burlington Free Press | February 7, 2007 – by Melissa Pasanen

Seed quality has always played a central role at High Mowing, from the days when the company was a one-man operation to the present quality department composed of three full-time and two part-time staff. As our definition of quality has expanded, we have tested our seeds with greater frequency, raised germination standards, and enhanced preventative screening for pathogens. All of these initiatives are designed to ensure that your purchase of seed from High Mowing is free of surprises and provides the best possible growing experience.

On site at our warehouse in Wolcott, VT, we have an in-house lab where we perform regular germination and purity tests and evaluate seedling vigor on all seed lots to ensure they pass our standards, which exceed federal germination standards. On our production farm, we test varietal purity by growing out seed from a given lot. We routinely grow out several hundred plants of certain varieties to ensure a minimal percentage of off-types in the strain. We also monitor for seed-borne disease and screen for disease in our production fields.

Achieving superior quality through all of these processes requires an experienced and committed staff. Jamie Emmerson serves as our Quality Control Specialist, and has spent the last nine years involved in the seed industry. Her wealth of experience, organizational skills, and eye for detail in seed cleaning is critical to delivering seed that is pure and vigorous.

Meeting the challenge of our ever-expanding number of seed varieties is Heather Hassett, who serves as our Quality Control Lab Specialist. Heather’s background in quality, environmental science, and product development in the coffee industry is a key ingredient for enhancing the consistency and timeliness of our germination testing.

Rounding out the quality team is the Quality Control Manager, Patrick Lawrence. Patrick holds a PhD in Agroecology from Montana State University and provides the scientific and systems analysis perspective to drive our quality initiatives. Together with Jamie, Heather, and our two part-time employees, Monique Gerbex (germination testing) and Katie Weller (seed cleaning), the quality team at High Mowing provides the depth and breadth of experience to navigate the uncertainties inherent to handling living, breathing organisms otherwise known as seeds.