Adaptive Seeds Works to Reclaim Our Seed Heritage, Part 1

| 2/11/2015 10:02:00 AM

Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement spotlights 18 Oregon farms and farm supporters who are committed to a return to ecologically sound agricultural practices. This group reflects the diversity of people, both young and old, who are reshaping our state’s food system and reclaiming our right to eat well. In their stories you will hear how they came to be where they are, learn something about the challenges they face, and share their happiness at the successes they’ve enjoyed thus far. The following profile has been excerpted from Planting A Future.

Sarah Kleeger and Andrew Still of Adaptive Seeds

When first meeting Andrew Still and Sarah Kleeger, it’s hard to imagine that these two young farmers spent their early years in Southern California… one in Ventura’s suburbs, the other in apartments near Anaheim. Because these days they’re pretty well countrified.

That’s not so much a reflection of how they look, although Andrew’s beard, Sarah’s braided hair, and the pair’s simple, well-worn clothing fit the image one might have of young organic farmers. It’s more an acknowledgment of their comfort; their ease as they walk through rows of last year’s vegetables in late winter… stopping to share cucumber-flavored sprigs of salad burnet, a plant they readily admit saved their ass a few times when they were running a winter CSA.

The burnet is the lone green perennial in a small plot just south of their aging farm house, which doubles as their seed warehouse. These slumbering rows of last year’s garden sit beside the seedling house and adjacent to the equipment shed – home to a small tractor and bargain-priced combine which Sarah claims that Andrew loves to wrench on.

Walking east through the larger fields, they both laugh in a roll-your-eyes sort of way as they point out two completely different types of winter cabbage that were supposed to be the same variety. One of them is producing pale green savoy heads, but the other is a disintegrated mess. The seeds were purchased from different vendors, and one of them didn’t get it right. All seed people make mistakes, they say, and this was clearly one of them. There’s no sense that they hold any kind of grudge or feel short-changed. They simply find the mix-up interesting.

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