This is the time of year when the gardeners in our community order vegetable seeds for the coming year – I am actually not one of the participants but I love observing it and being part of the larger discussion.
It starts around xmas time when this year’s seed catalogs begin arriving; most of the catalogs can now be viewed on line as well, but many of us prefer to peruse the offerings on paper in front of us. It’s so much fun! Looking at photos of colorful, tantalizing – even voluptuous vegetables and then the descriptions – positively poetic!
Discussion continues for several weeks: reviewing what last year’s favorite brocolli, peppers, lettuce, tomato, etc. were. Some varieties are not available every year – panic – what to do? “Remember that small yellow tomato we liked so much last year? It’s not listed this year!” A lot of research follows – comparing catalogs from the different companies. And then there is the organic factor: if at all possible, we like to and, in fact, have to purchase organic seeds – our entire farm is certified organic. But then there is cabbage – virtually no organic seeds continue to be available.
We order most of our seeds from Fedco, Southern Exposure, High Mowing, and Seeds of Change. When possible, we support local (Missouri) companies such as Baker Creek and Morgan County.
After considerable discussion, they get down to the nitty gritty: Gigi, Kathe, & Michael have divided up all the vegetable crops and each of them then select which seeds they will order from each company. And then we hope that all the seeds ordered will still be in supply – one of the reasons we like to order early.
A new thing we are doing this year is launching a school seed store – a program offered by Fedco. Modeled after the Girl Scout cookie sale, student take home a list of the most popular vegetable seeds offered for sale (determined by Fedco), orders are added up and then a bulk purchase is made. The company splits the profits of the sale with the school group. We hope it will actually make some money, stimulate student interest, and in general, foster discussion of the importance of local and good quality food.