Midwinter Update 2/1/21

I have always loved this time of year that sits between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, that the ancient Celts called “Imbolc”, later the Christians called “Candlemas”, and more recently “Groundhogs Day”. It’s the time where winter begins to yield to spring as seen in the first violets, daffodils blooming, pussy willows blooming, lambs being born and chickens laying more with the lengthening days. It’s also when we begin to plant seeds in the greenhouse, typically beginning with onions, peas and some Brassicas like broccoli and kale.  If you lived a bit further south of where I am (42 degrees North latitude) you may consider planting root vegetables like carrots, beets, radishes and turnips.

Last year finally is beginning to feel behind us and we can train on eyes upon the horizon and our hopes, dreams and goals for the future. On the farm here I am making repairs, building things, mending fences (literally), planting in the greenhouse, pruning fruit trees, and making crop plans. All of this busy activity is happening while visioning where I want to be personally, spiritually and professionally in the near and more distant future.

I am deeply grateful that I have had the good fortune to have been farming here in Oregon for the past 25 years and stewarding Siskiyou Seeds for the past 11 years. It’s involved a lot of long, hard hours, lots of debt, doubt and worry.  Through it all I have been encouraged forwards by the immense beauty of nature and in the cycles of birth, growth, death and decay.  I live for this. This is life.  I imagine that perhaps you do too?

It seems that more of the world is finally coming around to value health through nutrition and more specifically through growing one’s own food.  Siskiyou Seeds and all other seed companies have seen phenomenal growth in sales, interest and our customer base.  Our 2020 sales grew 335% over 2019. This placed a huge strain on our staff and our seed inventory.  Typically, we grow or contract with our grower network for an amount of seed that we can reasonably forecast that we can sell over the next few years.  Seed, unlike wine, does not improve with age so while we do have a climate controlled seed storage room we try to not over-produce any given seed lot. So, when a huge rush on seeds occurs we (and other seed providers) can quickly sell out of seed.  Many varieties that we offer are biennials and require 2 years to reproduce the seed. Add to this challenge the fact that many species we offer have multiple varieties that would cross pollinate and necessitate being grown in isolation from each other. With this in mind, you can imagine that everyone in the seed space is scrambling to meet the demand and grow for the future.

The spike in sales that we saw in spring of 2020 kept going and increasing as we have seen record sales in both December 2020 and January 2021. We are hiring more seed packers and expanding our team to provide better customer service. We will also soon be offering cover crop seeds, some tools, seed cleaning screens and micro-greens seeds and growing kits.  All the while we are still working towards becoming a bioregional seed research, growing, trialing, processing, storage and distribution hub for the southern Cascadian region. 

Thank you so much for your support as we grow, learn and strive to do better. I have come to running Siskiyou Seeds after decades of farming and I am becoming increasing aware that there is much  I don’t know, so all feedback is welcome. Feel free to reach out to me at <don@siskiyouseeds.com>

Planting Calendar for our Farm