Seed Company Rises from the Ashes

After a fire destroyed the seed stocks of Abundant Life Seeds, many concerned gardeners, along with Territorial Seed Company, helped revive Abundant Life’s inventory, preserving rare seeds for generations to come.
By Barbara Pleasant
April/May 2007
Add to My MSN

The ‘Silvery Fir Tree’ tomato has unique fernlike ornamental foliage.
Photo courtesy DAVID CAVAGNARO


Content Tools

Related Content

Growing Watermelons — Tips From Experts at Willhite Seed

Get tips on growing watermelons from the expert growers at Willhite Seed company, which offers dozen...

Sun Powers More Than Rice Fields

Lundberg Family Farms announces the opening of a new warehouse that is powered by 100% solar energy....

Testing Seed Viability

Try a simple seed viability test to see if your old seeds are worth planting.

My Top 5 Favorite Seed Companies

Here are five great companies to buy seeds from.

Abundant Life Seed Foundation was one of the pioneering groups that helped spark modern gardeners’ interest in growing heirloom varieties. Founded in 1975, the group began the important work of collecting, preserving and selling seeds of distinctive open-pollinated vegetables, herbs and flowers. But on Aug. 4, 2003, a fire consumed the Abundant Life offices in Port Townsend, Wash., destroying numerous records and all but a few seeds stored in a refrigerator.

Many long-time supporters sent in their own seeds of rare varieties, such as ‘Silvery Fir Tree’ tomato (see photo) and ‘Healthy’ pepper, while Abundant Life’s leaders evaluated what to do with the business. Director Matthew Dillon wanted to move beyond seed preservation to address hands-on matters related to seed stewardship. He opted to concentrate on increasing seed diversity by building regional systems controlled by farmers and gardeners through the Organic Seed Alliance ( www.seedalliance.org ).

Meanwhile, Tom and Julie Johns, owners of Territorial Seed Co. in neighboring Washington, “didn’t want to see all the good work done by so many people over such a long period of time just fall away,” Tom says. In 2004 they acted on their concerns by adopting Abundant Life as Territorial’s sister company, and immediately began increasing stock of rare varieties at their certified organic farm in London, Ore. Reborn under the name Abundant Life Seeds ( www.abundantlifeseeds.com ), the company offered seeds of 240 varieties in 2005. For 2007, that number has increased to 306 varieties, including meaty ‘Miles’ garbanzo beans and the rare ‘Tocan’ tomato, a Peruvian grape tomato that bears trusses of flattened, slightly pleated red fruits.

The Territorial Seed catalog does not have room for hundreds of new additions, so the Johns operate Abundant Life as a specialty company and use several certified organic acres at Territorial’s research farm to grow seed. “A lot of good varieties have a tough time making it into the Territorial catalog,” Tom says. “You can only offer so many varieties of cabbage and corn and still stay in business. This way, we can concentrate on top-performing, open-pollinated varieties.”

In addition to organically grown seeds, Abundant Life’s new catalog includes row covers, reflective mulches and a dozen products approved for use by the Organic Materials Review Institute. You can request a catalog through the Web site, or by calling (541) 767-9606.








Post a comment below.

 

Patrick_3
1/8/2009 2:17:17 PM
Several years ago I used to recieve a seed catalogue that advertised a Mouli Grater. I have had that same grater for thirty years. It had always been on my mind that it would wear out some day. In my attempts to find the same brand grater, I have bought several imitations which have not worked as well or not at all. I finally threw them all out. I was wondering if the original is available anywhere in the civil or not so civilized world. I would truly be grateful for any hints. Thank you for your reading patience.








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.