Sunday, January 6, 2013

Seeds and Seed Money

This is the time of year...
...for farmers (and the rest of us) to think about seeds.

"Winter in the garden is the season of speculation, a time when the snow on the ground is an empty canvas that invites the idle planting and replanting of countless hypothetical gardens between now and spring thaw.  A season of speculation in the Wall Street sense too, for now is when large wagers of gardening time and space are made on the basis of mere scraps of information." - Michael Pollan, Second Nature
"The future of the human race will depend on combining the cleverness of science with the wisdom of nature." - Charles Linbergh 
"Seventeen thousand different varieties of wheat have been produced, many of them the result of centuries of cultivation in a specific ecosystem with the best seeds saved each year and planted the next   The variation in plant varieties is related to the variation in cultures from one bioregion to another." Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
The darkest month of the winter is over.  After very cold stretch, but a window of sun starts us thinking about warmer days.  And in many farmhouses right now, people are planning the acquisition of seeds.

One can think about the issues around clothes in much the same way as one thinks about seeds (and food).  We live in a world that now has the unparalleled capacity to produce vast amounts of mediocre products.  Food production has already been that way for the last thirty years or so.

But small farms provide alternative.  Many would rather pay more for real food than pay more for doctors (or restaurants).

Those who write their checks for their summer CSA/Farm Share this time of year understand that they literally are providing seed money.  And when farmers have a bit more resources earlier, they can buy a better selection for the season to come.

Heirloom and Local Seeds Need Less and Give More

Painfully separating the seeds from a flower which is almost impossible to buy in the quantity required for a farm.

27 comments:

janjan said...

Ah, my fabulous CSA at Wier River Farm! I froze veggies this Summer that we are eating now.

Casey said...

I just got my New England seed catalog last week and have an order form for our CSA on my desk.

Anonymous said...

That's one of the nicest shed roofs I've ever seen! Wow.

Michael Rowe said...

Your organic farmer friend is my sartorial Beau Brummell and style icon.

Parnassus said...

As your post suggests, quality food production is closely bound with the idea of heirloom or antique crops. While these locally developed plants perhaps needed some coddling, their variety and degree of quality were the first thing to go when mass agribusiness took over. (Perhaps the second thing to go was the environment, when they started soaking the fields and orchards with pesticides and chemicals.)
--Road to Parnasssus

Janjan said...

Muffy, do you want some Cushaw squash seeds? A neighbor who hails from Kentucky grows them and I have saved the seeds, as well as his grandmother's superb pie recipe.

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful sheep. I love their darling little faces. --Holly in PA

Juli said...

Muffy,your post brought back a lovely memory. My late father wasn't one for new year's resolutions; instead, he started each new year with the January ritual of poring over seed catalogues, then, after choosing the year's crops, meticulously plotting his organic garden. He started this back in the late 1960s, companion planting and composting, which he continued till illness overtook his strength. I'll never forget the year he planted a "new" variety of pea - the sugar snap, which wasn't even available in any grocery store or farmer's market back then. Sweet memories. Thank you.

Susan R said...

Seriously, just thinking about planting my next garden makes me giddy.
You know how some women get in jewelry shops, furniture shops, or the like? That's the way I feel when I see shops brings out the gardening seeds, products and equipment. It means new growth and new possibilities. It means I can look forward to eating fresh from the ground instead of that which I have canned, or frozen from my previously planted garden.
As much as I love to do my own growing and gardening, I would love to participate in a "Farm Share" program, just to have something different.

Kathy said...

I would love to garden more. The deer population has run amuck here. Most mornings we have 8 to15 deer in our garden/ yard.
Do you have a problem with deer eating your garden flowers and veggies?

Muffy Aldrich said...

@Kathy - We do, but we have even more damage done by our chickens!

WRJ said...

On a somewhat related note, I'm curious what you (and your farmer friend(s)) think of the CT Farm Fresh service, if anything. I haven't yet tried it but it seems like a great solution for those who want to eat primarily or all local food but who don't have the time or inclination to drive all over the region.

Muffy Aldrich said...

@WRJ - I had never heard of it before and had to look it up. I do know one farmer on the list that I can email and will inquire and pass on anything relevant.

Patsy said...

Are seeds preppy? If you grow from cuttings, is that preppy?

Which is preppier, fruit seeds or vegetable seeds?

Anonymous said...

@ Patsy-------surely you jest --

Muffy Aldrich said...

I think Patsy has been reading YankeeWhiskyPapa!!

Bitsy said...

I'm with Susan R -- give me a stack of seed catalogs and I'm happy for hours. We are narrowing down our selections of organic heirloom seeds that will be supplemented by produce from our local farmers' market.

JSprouse said...

Great photos...as usual. Spring can't be far away. My brother-in-law has raised sheep for many years. Jacob and Merlinos. March is generally when he has them sheered so the ewes will stay inside with the lambs. It has become an annual family and community event. Everyone helps with the skirting and weighing and enjoy a good meal afterwards. We have been preparing our garden soil with composting and ashes from our wood stove. Can't wait to get some of those fresh veggies.

Laurie said...

I'm with you. I spent this last weekend catching up on season two of Downton Abbey while drawing up new garden plans.The first seed catalogs came before the new year.

Greenfield said...

There is one recent seed-company practice we all need to speak out (stridently!) against. It is when one company holds the "patent" on a variety, refuses to sell the seeds, and instead offers to sell you live plants at prices prohibitive to all but the smallest hobbyist gardeners. This effectively keeps many desirable varieties out of the hands of those who can best make use of them. Don't even get me started on Monsanto . . . !

Thanks for the taste of Spring!

Flo said...

Your post has me excited about the upcoming season, I am so looking forward to visiting several farmers markets in the area now that I have more time! I need to decide what we are planting in our flower boxes this year as well and start thinking about starting them.

Muffy Aldrich said...

@WRJ - I heard one negative review of CT Farm Fresh Service from a farmer whose name is currently on the list but should have been taken off.

Sarah Faragher said...

Lovely post, thank you. Regarding seed companies, I recommend the Fedco co-op here in Maine, for both vegetable and flower seeds, and also onion sets, seed potatoes, fruit trees, bulbs, and gardening supplies. They have a lot of hardy, heirloom, and organic options. Their prices are very low and the annual catalog is terrific reading material. Fedco is fighting the good fight against Monsanto, to boot...

Bitsy said...

I was looking back through the photos on this post and realized there is a chicken riding on the back of one of the sheep! Aren't animals just wonderful?

Tah said...

It's now 6 weeks after your post, and it's a cool but sunny day in Northern Nevada. Yes, wondering whether veggie gardening is worth the work. This year will be my second. But my friends have reminded me how I like the convenience of the food right outside the front and back door of the house, as well as the quality texture and flavor.

But yes, in these more wintery climes, seeds are more of a bother, having to plant them early in pods and keep them inside or put them in a greenhouse, if one is fortunate enough to have one (I don't).

I'm a newcomer to your blog, a southerner, now westerner. I love reading about your region.

Muffy Aldrich said...

Welcome, Tah, and thank you for your comment. Maintaining gardens is a lot of work and I did much more of it before I got chickens! Although they are helpful with the insect control (I never use chemicals) they also see all that compost rich soil as the perfect place to take their dust baths.

Tah said...

Thank you for your warm welcome and reply, Muffy. You writing this blog is such an act of generosity. You are brave to take on chickens.