Taking stock of seed in February

by Kathryn Gardow, PCC Farmland Trust Executive Director

This article was originally published in February 2008

Every February, many of us take stock of our seeds from the previous season and begin to plan our summer garden. Farmers do the same thing, considering what sold well last year and what varieties are available this year. But where the seeds come from is very important.

Many farmers still save seeds from their last crop rather than purchase new seed. Nash Huber is one of them. As the owner of Nash’s Organic Produce and operator of the PCC Farmland Trust’s Delta Farm in Sequim, Nash breeds and saves carrot, chard, cilantro, kale, cabbage and cauliflower seed.

Some of you toured Nash’s operation last month and learned how he develops seed crops (including his famous Nash’s Best! carrots), how he and his crew rotate crops to reduce pest infestation, and how they grow such high-quality vegetables.

The Dungeness Valley around Sequim is an ideal microclimate for vegetable seed production, one of only a few in the world suited for brassica (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) seed production. Nash is growing an early green cabbage for the Irish Eyes Seeds label and is working with the Organic Seed Alliance to develop a new fresh spinach variety.

He developed a blue-curly kale that he ships to PCC Natural Markets and currently is working on saving seed from a stunning new romanesco cauliflower that he found in Italy.

Concerns about cross-pollination require many seed crops to be spaced miles apart from one another. Nash keeps in touch with local beet seed producers, for instance, to ensure their crops are far enough away so they don’t cross pollinate his five-acre red chard seed patch.

Nash says, “The organic seed business is in its infancy and will have a transforming effect on organic agriculture, as organic growers begin to understand the potential in seed breeding.”

So as we create our summer gardens, let’s include heirloom varieties and those especially well suited for our climate.

PCC shelf tag
Look for products marked with PCC Farmland Trust shelf tags

You can support the PCC Farmland Trust just by choosing certain products at PCC stores. Look for the PCC Farmland Trust shelf tags identifying participants.

Vendors such as Flora, Natural Factors and Clif Bars are new participants. Long-standing vendors include the Organically Grown Company, Organic Valley, Powers Winery/Badger Mountain Vineyards, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Stiebrs Farms, Stonyfield Farm, Nancy’s Creamery, Choice Organic Teas and Tony’s Coffee.

Visit www.pccfarmlandtrust.org to see a complete list of participating vendors.

Also in this issue

News bites, February 2008

Who do you trust about food?, China bans plastic bags, Beans cut cholesterol, and more