Frequently Asked Questions
Were you not certified organic ?
We were, went through the process just to realize how time was lacking to fill out and send all our farm paperwork to the certifier on time in midsummer (the roguing/breeding/selection/planting most-intensive time of year of our small seed business) so as a result we decided (sadly) to drop (temporarily we hope) the certification instead of dropping crop diversity and development projects. We started to wonder how we could make them all and make them all well - under certification. (If you are reading this and work for an organic certifier, please let us know if you have a clue!) Our priorities still are to produce our many crops under the most natural setting, without the use of pesticides, GMOs or synthetic stuff. We think our view is pretty compatible with organic principles and concepts -but not the actual form of paperwork or structure (and cost) which seems more adapted to large-scale agriculture or already well-established businesses with employees. We shall get back at it when things evolve!
Online and no mailed catalog! Are you kidding ?
We have had many requests for a mailed catalog. We wouldd be happy to offer the option to print and send one, but here is why we simply can't! Online precise inventories allow us to put online some varieties we only have in limited quantities (anywhere from 30-50 packets). In the case we'd have to send a paper catalog, we would keep sending replacements (like the only seeds we have in normal quantities) which is not an idea I would enjoy as a customer. The other reason is cost. Unless we charge a fee for sending out a catalog (and our customers receive all replacements, which is no fun) it does not make sense for I am trying to make a living out of farming and unlike big businesses being able to sell below their production costs in order to affect competitors, we have to, again, work in precision. Just like biointensive market vegetable farming! We are locally-based, seasonal and precise! We do not buy or sell in bulk. Our largest packets are 1/4 oz. It’s the way we decided to go; other seed sellers have their way too, it’s just a question of personal choice.
What do you mean when you say your initial seeds come from Italy, the UK, China etc.? Don’t you grow and harvest them here?
Even though their 'cultural' belonging was initially in another land, these varieties adapted well here and kept most of their characteristics. All seeds we sell are grown here for repeated seasons before we market them to make sure they are well adapted to our climate.
We like to bring more diversity about our gardens! Because we think resilience comes from diversity - genetic diversity - insect diversity - culinary diversity, etc.!
Can we visit your farm ?
I would love to, but we are, as you have read in the other topic above, short on time. I love to share photos and speak about our farm, but the best time to do so does not necessarily come in spring, summer or fall. We are only two working here. The other reason why we are not so much of an open farm, is called Biosecurity. Yes, it does not only apply to Livestock farms. For seed quality. There is plenty of insects, nematodes, viruses, etc affecting plants and even though on a diversified land like ours these rarely become a problem, we simply do not want to have too many of them hanging around. Some seed farms have installed signs saying Seed Production Area-No Trespassing-Biosecurity; we do not because we think people can prove themselves responsible and not enter other cultivated land without asking us if they can first! Plus we think our Photos section encompasses much more than what can be seen on a single visit.
Where can we find more about how to grow the plants ?
While I still give advice for some crops under the tabs in each variety's page, I personally do not believe one can learn to successfully plant and care for a garden by relying only on a seed seller site, be it very informative. Why? It all depends on your soil, your climate, and how you start your seedlings and (I think) one cannot account for every single aspect of gardening on a web page (yet?). But there are different ways to learn and get experience.
To me gardening is sort of a learning curve, hands-on work blending with theory. Days to maturity is a good example. It is dependant on what we call Degree-Days, a mixture of time and favorable temperature for plant growth. It may give an idea on the relative earliness of a crop but sometimes can be misleading in certain cases because there are other factors affecting plant growth such as daylength. This is only one example.
There are excellent courses and books out there.
Among all good books on vegetable gardening, one of my favorites is (may they translate it!) La culture écologique des plantes légumières by Yves Gagnon. I also enjoyed, for his personal view and his farm-environment approach on gardening for food, Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening. A huge work (in French) on permaculture-inspired market gardening is Vivre avec la terre by Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer who built their extremely productive micro-farm on a previously poor shallow soil. It is both inspirational and a detailed reference and it is not limited to vegetables. A nice proof that - with knowledge and adaptation - one can almost turn any piece of land into a great garden!
I may add some more titles when I get back to typing but these are my favorite practical ones on growing food.
Here’s my advice: Don’t be afraid - Experiment!