Following our founding mission, we only offer seeds that are not only rare, open pollinated, and primarily heritage or heirloom varieties, but ones that our supporters (customers) are encouraged to propagate and save seeds from.
In an effort to keep seeds available to growers and breeders, we have begun offering an increasing number of varieties that have been pledged to the Open Source Seed Initiative. We do not offer patented, licensed or PVP protected varieties. As a mission-driven organization, public domain seeds are at the core of our values.
Our seeds meet or exceed industry and regulatory standards and we are licensed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture as a retail seed dealer. We discard or donate seed that does not meet our high standards.
Although we are strong advocates for, and practitioners of the principles of organic and sustainable agriculture, we have not been able to justify the added fees and ongoing expenses associated with the USDA's Organic certification process.
Our primary mission of seed variety preservation focuses our limited resources on placing rare and threatened varieties into as many home gardens and seeds savers hands as possible. Since we do not target sales towards farms or market growers, certification is not critical to our primary supporters.
Additionally, our seeds are untreated and many of the varieties that we offer are not available anywhere else. Certified growers can therefore use our seed as outlined in the standards.
We have gardened and farmed using organic and sustainable practices since it was a grassroots movement in the 70s and 80s. In that vein, we have chosen for our farm to become Certified Naturally Grown.
When the National Organic Program was implemented in 2002, farmers like us that once proudly referred to ourselves as "organic" were no longer allowed to do so unless we became "certified" by a USDA sanctioned agency.
Certification through the National Organic Program (NOP) requires an enormous amount of record keeping. Literally a paper trail of every type of thing you are growing, from seed to sale. This may be feasible for large industrial food corporations and commodity farms that grow a few types of vegetables (monocrop plantings) and market under contract to chain stores or big processing plants, but time is a short commodity to small growers of diverse crops with a few family members available to complete all tasks.
Small farms and CSAs may grow hundreds of varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits every year and sell them directly to consumers in their own communities. But the volumes of paperwork, coupled with the equivalent of an additional tax (fees and assessments) have made organic certification prohibitive for diversified small farms such as ours.
The costs associated with USDA certification - both in terms of money and paperwork requirements - is just too great for many small farmers. They pose an economic barrier.
Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) was created to address the challenges that smaller, diversified organic farms face when considering the USDA's Organic program.
CNG farmers are exempt from the fees and paperwork requirements associated with USDA Certified Organic, yet they are required to adhere to CNG's Certification Standards and inspections that are based on the highest principles and ideals of organic farming.
Certified Naturally Grown is an independent program not accredited by, or in any way affiliated with, the USDA National Organic Program. CNGs Certification Standards include, but are not limited to, the USDA Organic Standards.
CNGs Program Requirements are reasonable and affordable, and many farmers find the inspection process itself a valuable learning experience.
"'Organic' is now dead as a meaningful synonym for the highest quality food. Responsible growers need to identify not only that our food is grown to higher, more considered standards, but also that it is much fresher because it is grown right where it is sold."
A note to gardeners regarding untreated seeds:
Conventional agriculture employs the use of fungicides and other chemical treatments to protect and allow the seed to germinate in wet and cool conditions. All of our seed is untreated. That is, they are not treated with any fungicides or chemicals. We suggest that you plant after soil conditions have become moderate so that a good stand can be established. Attempting to plant too early is gambling with the loss of your seed purchase.
GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) - We pledge that we will not knowingly buy, or offer for sale, any plants or seeds that have been genetically modified through laboratory practices known as Genetic Engineering (GE). We will continue to offer only standard, open-pollinated seed varieties. Call us old-fashioned . . . please! Click here to read The Safe Seed Pledge.
Our Packaging - In designing the packaging for our packet seed line, we wanted to provide a product that people would recognize, appreciate, protect the seeds, and yet not be cost prohibitive.
We use a standard paper envelope, but as gardeners ourselves, wanted a way to reseal and protect the unused quantity of seeds for later use (see seed storage). We chose to accomplish this by the addition of an inner 2 mil reclosable polyethylene bag. Plastics can still breath but it adds an additional barrier to the elements over plain paper.
Resale - In order to maintain the high quality of our seed, we only sell direct to customers. We do not sell through any other outlet or agent - resale of our seeds is not authorized and constitutes trademark infringement through implication of endorsement. If you have purchased seed packets bearing our name and they were not obtained directly from us, no warranty is extended and we would suggest that you return the product to the vendor for a refund.