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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Southern Oregon Organic Seed Legacy Continues

Happy Spring!

The Hawthorne trees are about to open up their flowers here. Hawthorne is a vasodialator, which means that it helps increase blood flow my nourishing our heart. As I ponder this I think about my heart connection to plants and those who love plants. One way I contribute to this community is through my work with growing seeds. Organic farmers are a small minority these days, organic seed growers are a smaller minority still. All of us in the state of Oregon could easily fit in a small room. Yet, we carry an important piece of enabling local sustainable food systems to thrive.

I recently acquired the seed collection legacy of Al Vanet of SOW Organic seeds in Williams. SOW Organics began back in 1974 as Stone Broke Hippie Seeds in Ruch, moving to Williams as Peace Seeds in 1978. This vegetable, flower and herb seed collection represents the best local repository of locally adapted open-pollinated vegetables in SW Oregon if not the entire state. When you consider that seeds of many of the varieties in this collection have been continually reproduced here for over 30 years, starting a garden with this genetic adaptation to climate, pests, soils and diseases in a huge advantage over using seed produced in a different bioregion. Many noteworthy individuals have been involved with this genesis including Gabriel Howearth, Dr. Alan Kapular, Alan Vanet, Alan Adesse, Chi Scherrer, Frank Morton, and Munk Bergen to name a few. Sow Organic seeds also helped give rise to Seeds of Change, the Southern Oregon Barter Faire, the Williams Watershed Council and the Williams Town Council.

We are in the process of doing thourough germination and vigor testing and reproduction of these seeds and will be offering the work horse varieties through our own seed company, SISKIYOU SEED. We hope to build upon the awesome work of Alan Vanet and preserve the best qualities of these strains and improve upon them where we see opportunity to do so. I am planning on writing an article on the relationship between climate change, organic agriculture and seed saving for an upcoming blog, as I truly believe that this type of work will enable agrarian societies to continue to thrive amidst erratic frost, heat and rain cycles. Domestication is not an endpoint, it is actually an ongoing process of which we are participants.

Our seed rack in Ashland at the Coop has a number of these strains, along with biodynamic seed that we have grown and organic sweet corns from Lupine Knoll Farm. Feel free to email us to get on our mailing list for an upcoming catalog.
Thank you for your support, may your lives be full of abundant vegetation!


  1. What a beautiful picture of Jasper! I enjoy your blog Don. You have so much to share with the farming community and beyond.

  2. Can you tell a little about Al Vanet and how he spent his last years?

  3. I can!