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Demystifying a Seed Company

Sustainable Seed Co

Demystifying a Seed Company

Just what is it that we do here at Sustainable Seed Company? More photos

Sustainable Seed Co is anxious to have an organic farm again.  Soon (sooner, with your help), we hope to purchase new land and get our hands dirty!  When we do, our farming practices will be much the same as they were on our old farm:


  • We are an Organic Seed Farm  Most seed companies these days are just seed resellers and don't grow any seed at all!  Not us!  We grow seed!  We have over 1700 varieties and over 1/3 of those we grew on ourpigs at sustainable seed company organic seed farm.  We hope to bring that number to 60% in the next few years as we continue to grow more heirloom varieties on our certified organic seed farm.  Our farm is also home to rare heirloom fruit trees, grapes, berries, nut trees, and antique roses.  The farm is located in Mendocino county, the first county in the U.S. to outlaw the production of Genetically Engineered crops.
  • We are a Working Farm with Animals  Not only do we grow seed, but this is a working sustainable farm, complete with all sorts of animals.  We have heritage chickens and turkeys that roam the fields in our portable chicken house.  They glean greens and bugs from the fields while depositing valuable fertilizer.   Employees enjoy the eggs that come from happy hens.   Our heritage Blue Butt pigs help turn over the soil and compost cardboard boxes by turning them back into compost.  The rabbits provide manure for the earthworms who in turn feed our Tilapia in the aquaculture system in the greenhouse.  The fish waste is fed to the plants where the cycle begins all over again.  There are the working farm dogs that keep the bears, raccoons and mountain lions from eating our feathered and furry friends.  Four cats do their part in the barn to keep those pesky mice in check. And we hope to have a milk cow in the future.
  • Variety Trials  How would we know what tastes good or grows well if we didn't try it ourselves?  And try it  we do!  We plant hundreds of varieties every year.  We are looking for colors, shapes, disease resistance, drought tolerance, flavor, pest resistance, and more.  Many things are grown just for the amazing photos you see here on our site.  Each year we have a tomato tasting where our local winery supplies the libations and we supply the heirloom tomatoes.  And of course employees enjoy the fruits of their labor by taking home armloads of organic produce.
  • Farmers Market  Not every heirloom vegetable makes the cut for saving seed.  These extra vegetables make their way to our local farmers market every Friday where the locals get a chance to be the first to taste some of the rarest heirloom fruits and vegetables.  Of course we also love visiting with our neighbors and partaking in the other gheirloom tomatoesoodies to be had there, as well as live music and BBQ.
  • Community Outreach   As we stated above, we are very selective about what we save seed from.  We want only the best, but that doesn't mean those fruits and vegetables are not still delectable to eat.  We like to share our bounty with the Round Valley Indian Reservation Senior Center, the local school is invited out to share in the harvest, and many of our neighbors collect the crushed tomatoes to can after the seeds have been removed.  Anything that is left over goes to feed the farm animals here.  Sustainable Seed Company is a proud sponsor of our local radio station KYBU.  Being a small community, we attend many local events and support our town in anyway we can!  We love attending seed swaps or any local gardening event as well.
  • Our Commitment to the Environment   We take our commitment to leave the world a cleaner place very seriously.  Our Green Initiative is like no other in the seed industry.  We are the first seed company to be solar and wind powered!   Our farm is set up on drip irrigation to conserve as much water as possible.  Our fields are designed to prevent damaging runoff to the salmon stream that runs through our farm. 
  • Seed Bank & History  We literally have thousands of rare seeds in our climate-controlled seed bank.  Every year people send us rare heirloom seeds from around the world to save.  We grow out these seeds to trial them, but also to multiply their numbers.  Many we offer to the public for sale.  Others get kept for further breeding work later.  Many of these seeds represent cultures and peoples that are now long gone.  We do our best to keep the stories alive with each of these seed varieties.  For each seed truly does have a story!
  • Seed Donation Program   We have donated thousands of seeds over the years to non-profits such as community gardens, churches, school gardens, food banks and homeless shelters.  We believe seeds not only give people the ability to feed themselves, but come together as a group to learn and share with one another.  GEli with bee comb sustainable seedardens bring a sense of pride and community that touch people at a very deep level. Everyone should have the right to grow healthy and nutritious food if they so choose.
  • Bees and Native Pollinators  We keep honey bees here on the farm as they are an important part of pollinating our fruits and vegetables.  Just as important is planting crops that encourage and feed our native pollinators.  These pollinators need our help, as more and more land is developed and they loose their native forage.  These insects are important, not only for pollination, but many are predators of the pests that would harm our heirloom plants.  We plant crops specifically for these insects so that we may not only help them, but encourage them to make their homes in our fields, helping us.  It is a win win for bugs and humans alike!
  • Heirloom Grains  We grow hundreds of varieties of heirloom grains.  No other seed company does this.  Why is this so important?  Just like heirloom vegetables, heirloom grains have flavors and health benefits that far exceed modern varieties.  We believe it is important that someone save these grains for posterity and offer them to the public for sale.
  • Farm to Farm    Our friends at Live Power are just down the road.  Their farm is bustling with interns in the fields and horses plowing their biodynamic farm.  We love sharing stories, work and meals with them. It is good to have farmers as neighbors!

Comments on Demystifying a Seed Company

kenneth fallon 10-28-2016 06:53 AM
I am fascinated by Arikara squash...what do you mean by "We have dry farmed these squash with great success" Did you give any water at all?
I grow in a bottomless 8" terra cotta pot and add water to brim every 2 or 3 days...will this work? Does this squash like shade?

Cannot use "contact us" page.... the "type in characters" does not work like on this page.
Barbara Kausen 12-04-2015 01:29 PM
You sent me a free sample of Dutchman Tomato seeds with my recent order of other tomato seeds. This sounds like a very good tomato, but I live in the Southwest US (Sonoran Desert) and we have very high temperatures that activate the fusarium wilt organisms that lurk in our soil.

I choose all my seeds according to whether they have wilt resistance and are heat tolerant. Is there any indication that the Dutchman tomato is wilt resistant or can be grown in the Southwest U.S.?

Thank you.
Mary Jo Woodmansee 09-11-2013 08:41 PM
This is a great informational page! I am so impressed with everything here. Great to see that sustainable, environmentally conscious companies can make it. I live & work in the central valley, but plan on making a new beginning in Mendocino county once I am 60 years "young" and can retire from my job in the grocery business. Hope to come and see your operation soon. Good luck in all your future endeavors!

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