Two NEW! Seed Collaborations for 2023

As we work toward building more sustainable and cooperative models for getting seeds into people’s hands, we have partnered with two like-minded enterprises: one from right down the road in Maine and one from out West. Both are excited to share their seed harvests with you.

Carol Deppe: Breeding Seeds for Resilience

This year we bring you six stellar varieties bred by Oregon independent plant-breeder and author Carol Deppe.

A molecular geneticist who started her academic career—bolstered by the Equal Opportunity Act—as a rare woman in the field, Carol found herself reading organic farming and gardening magazines in a windowless room and saw an opportunity for change. She left academia and for 40 years has been dedicated to breeding plants for organic systems. Trying to think 1,000 years ahead, Carol’s genius is in breeding for resilience to catastrophic weather disaster, and yet her varieties are as delicious as they are rugged! We are excited to partner with Carol to get her seeds into circulation. We plan to introduce more of her varieties in future catalogs. Stay tuned!

We are also offering Carol’s three books, which can be found in our Organic Gardener's Supply Division.

Click the item links below to visit the individual item pages for more information and to purchase these seeds. Image: an art nouveau style line drawing of a woman running while holding a pod full of bean seeds
  • Fast Lady Northern Southern Cowpea- ECO (65 days shell, 90 days dry) Vigna unguiculata Open-pollinated. Carol bred this small white cowpea to be both Northern- and Southern-adapted, to mature quickly in cool summers, and to tolerate cold night temps. Pick these fast ladies early for shellies, or let them fully mature. As dry beans they have a creamy texture and delicate skins, and cook up quickly without soaking.
  • Gaucho Bean - Organic (88 days) Open-pollinated. Carol has maintained this Argentine heirloom since the 1980s. Her favorite heirloom bean, it is a parent of all the Phaseolus vulgaris varieties she’s bred. High yield potential and dries down unusually fast. Resembles many other gold beans, but its full-bodied rich flavor sets it apart from lookalikes.
  • White Candle Gaucho Bean - Organic (88 days) Open-pollinated. A sister line to heirloom Gaucho—the same bean size and shape, but white with a candle pattern on the hilum. Mild flavor and the same high yield and agronomic characteristics as Gaucho. As sister lines, the two beans can be grown close together without any worry of crossing if you want to save and replant your own seed. A perfect example of how breeder Carol Deppe is building ease of seed-saving right into the varieties’ genetics!
  • Brown Resilient Bean - Organic (100 days) Open-pollinated. An early productive dry bean with a rich meaty flavor. Bred by Carol for high yields under difficult growing conditions. Can produce well in areas with cold spring seasons and summer nights that drop into the 50s. The variety is a mix of bushes and short-vine types. Seeds are 80–90% brown; the rest are gold or black. Carol discovered that with these variations came higher yields and better drought tolerance, so she let go of uniformity as a goal: “If I were intending to get a PVP or patent on my varieties I would have to make a uniform bush version with all brown beans that was wimpier and lower yielding than Brown Resilient. But I’m not and I don’t.” Right on!
  • Ruby-Gold Flint Corn - Organic (85 days) Open-pollinated. By crossing Abenaki Calais and Byron, Carol bred this very early and productive flint corn with big seeds on medium-narrow cobs that dry down quickly. Ears are solid-colored in a mix of stunning hues: red, red-brown, dark red, orange-gold, maple-gold, gold or yellow! Interior kernel color is gold. Superb for cornbread, johnny cakes and polenta. Carol’s recipes can be found in her book The Resilient Gardener. Does well even in downright cold summers, with good husk coverage to protect against pests.
  • Goldini II Zucchini - Organic (55 days) Open-pollinated. In the Pacific Northwest where Carol lives, this shiny gold ridged zucchini of hers matures at 35 days from direct seeding, “which makes it possibly the fastest germinating and growing and most productive summer squash on the planet, including hybrids,” she declares. Reaches peak culinary perfection at a big 1-lb size—more food, less labor! Great eaten raw or cooked, and Carol recommends slicing and drying the biggies for winter soups. Fruits are relatively uniform, but leaves are diverse in shape and color. This is intentional; the heterogeneity adds to the variety’s vigor.

Troy Howard Middle School: Students Growing Seeds

We are delighted to offer two varieties of seed grown by students at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, Maine!

Twenty years ago, a few students and teachers at Troy Howard dreamed of creating a garden. They took their picks and spades to the hard marine clay next to the school parking lot and an improbable pumpkin patch was born. In the years since, thousands of students have put their hands into that soil, hauling seaweed and leaves from town, making compost from their cafeteria scraps, and gradually expanding the garden to a third of an acre. The students now grow thousands of pounds of food each year, which they deliver to their own cafeteria.

An essential part of the curriculum at Troy Howard is the growing, saving and sharing of seed. Students begin in the fall by fermenting tomato and cucumber seeds, shelling heirloom beans, and threshing, screening and winnowing. After the garlic is planted and snow covers the garden, students clean and germination-test their seeds, make artwork for the packets, and pack seeds to offer for sale at the Belfast Community Co-op. In addition to preserving old heirlooms, students are also making crosses, practicing selection and watching new varieties emerge. As they pass on these seeds to the kids coming up behind them, they glimpse their place in a chain of seed keepers stretching back thousands of years. We are grateful to have seeds as teachers because they show us that true education is found in the deepening of relationships.

We are pleased to be part of the web of relationships and offer these seeds grown by the students of Troy Howard. We will split the proceeds 50/50. The seeds will arrive in student art packs.

Image: A group of school children being taught by a thin person with short dark hair look at an image of seed packets on the classroom wall

Click the item links below to visit the individual item pages for more information and to purchase these seeds.

  • PB&J Nebula Gene Pool: Phaseolus vulgaris (60 days) Open-pollinated. The students rogue out any bean crosses as they shell heirloom varieties each fall. As plant breeders, they can’t resist growing out those crosses to see what happens! Dubbed “weirdo beans,” these glorious mutts spin out a ragtag rainbow of patterns, habits and ancestral forms. Like middle schoolers, they are colorful, unpredictable and, well, kinda weird. From the ranks of these hybrid misfits, Troy Howard proudly presents the PB&J Nebula Gene Pool! Lightly selected for vigor, yield, disease resistance and bush habit, but maintaining a high degree of diversity, these beans outyield almost all the other beans in the school’s collection. Parentage includes a bean called Tarahumara (presumably from the Rarámuri of Mexico, though the lineage is not certain), Bumblebee, and unknown others. The predominant forms are a range of peanut-butter browns and a constellation of jelly-colored nebular swirls with unexpected variations here and there. Great potential for selecting out new varieties—just keep them free under the OSSI pledge! F5 generation.
  • Moldavian Dragonhead Dracocephalum moldavica (80 days) Open-pollinated. Annual. The students at Troy Howard fell in love right away with this tea and medicine plant from Eurasia. 18" plants send up purple-blue flower spikes that bumblebees love. Dry the tops (leaves and flowers) for a bright lemony tea. Unlike lemon balm, it keeps its aroma well when dried. Cutting encourages re-blooms: students get two or three harvests each summer. Remember to let a few plants go to seed in August so you can collect seeds to share! Surface sow in pots and set out after danger of frost; or direct sow 2 weeks before last frost. Needs light to germinate.