Soooo muuuuuch food is grown from the tiny little nuggets called seeds. As the farm is springing and summer-ing into life, we are awestruck and grateful to the mighty seed. They are the essential, powerful little bits that feed us all. Here is a bit about how we choose our seeds and how we grow them into delicious, organic food.
First off, we don’t grow any of our own seed, there is a vast difference between seed saving as a gardener, which is very cool, and providing the quality and quantity needed for the scale Chi’s Farm is at. There are various compexities to seed growing, such as vegetable varietals cross-pollinating if they grow within a mile of each other, remember how many varieties of raddiccio we are planting? Then there is the gathering and cleaning of the tiny things, to name a few. It just isn’t workable for the diversity of each crop we love to grow.
For some of our crops like our salad mix, we have an extremely high seeding rate, for the baby greens that go in with the lettuces, we put in a lot of seeds to get out the abundance that we need. Let’s just say globally on the farm, we use a LOT of seeds. We pour those little cuties into the furrows and grow densely for salad mix and then there is a quick turnover. Then don’t forget the microgreens, lots of seeds!
Since we don’t grow seeds, we buy them from a handful of seed companies. It is a top priority to use companies that select their seeds with maximum flavor as a guiding principle, and we look for optimal variteties for a fresh market grower. Within that parameter, we also prioritize buying from companies that have organic options. Not all varieties are available in organically grown seeds.
So let’s be clear, it is a huge part of our commitment is to use organic seeds whenever available. This does effects what seeds are purchased. Scott will, and does at times, pay more for a organic seed, rather than buy it’s cheaper option in conventional seeds and also in some cases there are seeds that only come conventional and aren’t available organic, so that can happen. This is all about finding the best quality of seed plus best quality of produce.
What we can say resolutely is that all the seeds are untreated, all the seeds are non-GMO, none of them are treated with fungicides.
Are we organic? YES! Are we certified organic? NO! Although the farm is not certified, all the decisions, our seed purchases, our production, our processes, all follow the principles and rules of being certified organic. We feel certain if at any point there was a need to certify, it would be easy to achieve because that is how the farm has always operated.
The role of the certification is a level of insurance for the consumer, and when the produce has to change hands multiple times to get to the consumer, the eater, that certification provides a traceable way that ensures that the food was produced organically. With direct marketing, through the farmstand or the CSA, we have the opportunity to describe directly to the eaters, they can look and see, without the need for the process of the certification. In this way the farm avoids paperwork and costs that are not needed.
That said, Scott highly values the certification process and the bodies that provide that process because it has radically changed farming, albeit still a small percentage of the food system, and does drive farming in a more sustainable direction. Because of all the years Scott worked being responsible for ensuring the certification of a large farm, he is comfortable and confident he is operating in a certifiable way at all times.
For example, for any materials coming onto the farm, Scott refers to the lists that the certifiers have when it comes to things like potting soils or fertilizers, the materials are approved by the organic certification bodies, so those guidelines are continually being used as a resource.
Happy summer once again and three cheers for the organic seeds, the folks that grow them, and we are thrilled to be growing those seeds into delicious organic food for our community.
Grab an extra bag of salad mix next time you are in the farmstand as a gift to a friend, spread the wealth we have at our finger tips! We welcome new customers and you are the best way to help us spread the word!