Siskiyou Seeds was conceived here at our family farm, Seven Seeds Farm arrived after 15 years of growing certified organic seed for many national scale mail order seed companies, which we continue to do. In addition to commercial seed production, Seven Seeds Farm produces fruits and vegetables that we distribute through a cooperative Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program called the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative (www.siskiyoucoop.com) in the Rogue Valley. We also raise ducks, chickens, turkeys and sheep. Seven Seeds hosts numerous on-farm classes and workshops in a variety of sustainable agriculture related topics. To see a current listing of workshops at Seven Seeds and classes that Don Tipping will be teaching in southern Oregon please see the EVENTS menu or check the farm blog @ http://www.sevenseedsfarm.com/
Siskiyou refers to the East-West mountain chain that our farm is nestled in. .The name Siskiyou is a word from the Chinook Native trading jargon that translates to “bob-tailed horse”. However, more likely the mountians here reveived their name during the early 1830’s when Russian fur trappers called them “сиськи” or “Sis’ki” the word for breasts. (much like their French counterparts did in Wyoming with le Gran Tetons). Seems as apprapoe for a seed company as seeds are nourishment from the plant kingdom!
According to the World Wildlife Fund they have designated the greater Klamath Siskiyou bioregion as one of 25 critical eco-regions that must be preserved in order to safeguard planetary biodiversity. The Klamath Siskiyou region stretches from the Umpqua river south of Roseburg, OR to the California Wine country in the south and from the Cascade volcanoes to the Pacific Ocean
We love the healthy, wild ancient forests of the Siskiyous and firmly believe that they play a crucial role in generating clean water and a refugia from industrial, monocrop agriculture.
Siskiyou Seeds is named after our mountain home to hopefully bring awareness to the imperiled nature of so many ecological gems on this planet. While fortunately some lands in the Klamath Siskiyous are protected as wilderness, most are not and these lands are home to endangered or threatened species such as Pacific Fischer, Wolverine, Gray Wolf, Siskiyou Salamander, Lynx, Northern Spotted Owl, Red Tree Voles, Marbled Murelets and others. This region also boasts the second highest plant biodiversity in North America and the highest diversity of conifers on the planet. If you would like to learn more and support this critical conservation and restoration work please check out
the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center: www.kswild.org
After SOW Organic Seeds (founded in 1978 in Williams, OR) closed shop in 2007 after the untimely death of pioneering seedsman, Alan Vanet we recognized that our bioregion was left lacking a cohesive seed bank. Although we are blessed with abundant summer sun here in the “banana belt of southern Oregon”, the Siskiyous can be a challenging place to garden with our winter rainforest, summer desert climate of harsh extremes. Uniquely situated to serve our local community we recognized an opportunity to try and fill this important niche and will be offering our seeds nationally through our web site, and a print catalog (which you may request or download as a PDF file from the link on our homepage).
There is tremendous opportunity for the renaissance of the bioregional seedsman/woman to select and breed varieties for organic agriculture. I am committed to the notion that well-selected, open-pollinated seeds can outperform commercially available hybrids. Through focusing on this crucial work, we can cooperate with gardeners and farmers to address the agronomic challenges that we will all face as climate change shifts microclimates in North America. Population breeding with special attention to horizontal resistance will hopefully alleviate the hardships growers experience with plant diseases, pests and climatic stress.
Careful attention to plant selection for seed saving can contribute to the improvement of important traits such as disease resistance, pest tolerance, climate adaptation, flavor and nutrition. Domestication is not an endpoint. Rather it is a relationship that is ongoing and can go in different directions. We are much more concerned with breeding plants that will foster healthy food for people, rather than traits such as ship-ability and shelf life. When we consider the concept of “food security” I find it logical that “seed security” should receive equal attention especially considering the threats of genetic engineering and the corporate consolidation of the seed industry. Much of the seed currently available from the traditional seed houses is increasingly coming from overseas and every year hundreds of valuable varieties are dropped from production. Consider that in the last 13 years over 200 regional seed companies have disappeared in our country. Bioregional seed banks and distribution networks will emerge as one of the more important stores of wealth in the future. Anyone want to buy futures in seeds? Let’s get planting!
Are your Organic Farmer Bred Varieties Better?
Well, of course they do because we rock! I feel very proud to know so many other farmers who are selecting and breeding the heirlooms of tomorrow in their fields, watching how they perform (or don’t) despite bugs, disease, intense weather and stress. Us organic farmers get to see how these varieties do in the real world where we don’t have the time and resources to baby them. Without getting into too much technical detail, these varieites are the result of farmers going the extra mile to only save seeds from the most superior varieites. Through buying, planting and eating these varieites you are directly supporting open source, public domain, open pollinated plant breeding. I see this as one of the most relevant responses to climate change that humanity has right now. To put simply we are breeding for adaptation to variable environments.