Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Support regional seed companies

I've had fun learning about vegetable seeds, heirloom varieties, and their sources over the last 20 or so years that I've been a keen vegetable gardener.  My initial forays into tasty vegetables were supported by specialty catalogs, now morphed into LOTS of catalogs, both mainstream and specialty, some more interesting and useful than others.

I was delighted to discover a locally-based seed company (Sow True) a couple of years ago that distributed a variety of open-pollinated vegetables through local nurseries and markets in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

I've been interested in the history of growing vegetables, heirloom varieties, and the practices of growing vegetables for the home garden for a long time (even before I started growing my one.  My parents were of the generation enamoured of frozen vegetables and 'convenience' foods, marketed to as time-saving and modern, so my family didn't grow vegetables, needless to say.

My mom, growing up with the hardscrabble farm gardens of my grandma in Northern California, was way too familiar with the hard work involved with growing and harvesting for winter-time storage to find it appealing.  But I thought my grandma's gardens and berry patches were magical, and loved to look at the canned vegetables and fruits in the pantry of her final house.

seeds ready for packaging
I was delighted to be able to visit the warehouse and retail office of Sow True this afternoon, and talk with co-owner Peter Waskiewicz and marketing and communications director Cathryn Davis Zommer.

The operation is efficient, and  interesting in that people-time is the key for processing their seed. 

seeds soaking prior to germination testing
Using community seed swap allocations helps them package both locally-grown and regionally-grown seed, along with seed from national OP producers with a minimal investment expense in equipment. And, I was impressed by the seed storage area (kept at 50°F for optimal seed longevity) and the tidy seed packing area. 

But the bottom line is that I've enjoyed growing their seeds (and eating the results) and fully support their commitment to regionally-produced seeds.   And now that I know that they have an easy-to-order website and a retail store in Asheville, I know where to get seeds all year round, not just when they're available on display at local nurseries and groceries. Woo-hoo!  I just wish I'd snagged some spinach and 'Winter Density' lettuce while I was there.  But I now know where to get more....

Why not check if there are regional seed producers nearby?  Many have been bought up in recent decades by the big players (think agribusiness), but there's been a resurgence in 'start-up'  seed companies like Sow True nationwide as well.


  1. We love Sow True! Their tomatoes are great, I grew their garlic variety peak last year, and the greens mixes grow really well in this area. My fav is the Appalachian Greens mix.

  2. Sow True has such a great selection of OP and heirloom seeds for the Southeast.

    I like the Appalachian Greens mix, too!


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