Hello folks! I have some fun introductions to share this month. First off, I'm happy to introduce Siskiyou Seeds and Flower Farm. Siskiyou brings together organically grown, non-GMO flower and vegetable seeds saved by small farms out west. We're thrilled to be sharing Siskiyou Seeds in our monthly newsletter giveaway raffle (more info. here). Please welcome Stacey Denton to the blog for a special Q & A!
Q: Can you share a little about your background and why you love seeds?
Stacey: So, when I was in my early 20's I dedicated myself to working with plants. I studied Ecology in college and quickly became serious about gardening because of my desire to grow vegetables and herbs for my own sustenance and medicine. Then, the siren song of flowers lured me in.
My partner Don Tipping owns Siskiyou Seeds, but before we were romantically involved I grew cut flowers and selling flower seed to him naturally evolved from my flower excess. I've been growing a large diversity of flowers and foliage, and doing design work, for about 10 years. I'm fascinated by seeds because they are little bit of magic in a tiny, mysterious package. I plant a seed in soil, it miraculously germinates; I protect it; it grows and produces flowers; the flowers become a home for insects or provide pollen and nectar to them; seeds set and ripen; I collect the seeds and protect them, until it's time to plant them again. It sounds simple, but it's a process fraught with risk and peril. Yet it somehow succeeds and every year I have an abundance of beauty, food, and medicine, maybe not exactly in the way that I intended, but always enough to share. I like seeing a plant go through its entire life cycle. I also like knowing that the seed I rely on is organically grown, open pollinated, and open source (not patented or trademarked).
Q: Is there a story behind the name Siskiyou?
Stacey: Siskiyou comes from the Klamath Siskiyous, the name of our bioregion. Here in Williams, OR we sit at the foot of Grayback Mountain, which is part of what's known as the Siskiyou Crest. We are at the edge of a wild and precious landscape, the second most biodiverse region in the United States, and think of our seeds as reflective of this place, hence Siskiyou in the title of our seed company.
Q: What makes the place(s) where you are growing well-suited to serving as a "seed farm"?
Stacey: Well, we have hot, dry summers and moderately cold, wet winters (Zone 7). We are just about 50 miles from the border with California. Our climate allows us to grow a wide diversity of crops free from major fungal problems encountered in more humid regions, and our seed matures well because we usually have dry weather into October.
Q: What makes your seeds special? (organic, open pollinated? -whatever you'd like to share that sets them apart)
Stacey: Our seed is certified organic, open pollinated, and non-gmo. Our home farms, Seven Seeds Farm and Flora Farm, utilize biodynamic farming principles/practices. Several of our varieties have been bred on-farm and those seeds that we don't produce ourselves come from our network of organic farms, mostly in the Pacific Northwest, but entirely within the United States.
Q: Do you have any interesting facts to share about your seeds, the farms involved, your location, etc?
Stacey: We know the farmer (or we are the farmers) who grew every one of our seeds. Seed farming is much like flower farming-- supporting domestic producers ensures higher quality produce, helps maintain genetic diversity, and is key to the survival of family farms. In addition, we offer things that we like to grow and since Don does breeding work, we are in a constant process of varietal improvement, trialing new varieties, and seeking feedback from our customers about what varieties they are looking for. We appreciate having a tight feedback loop with our customers who are looking for specific varietal traits or are wanting to access hard-to-find organic seed.
Q: What kinds of plants are you most excited about for cut flower growers? Is there anything unusual that you suggest people try? ---I'm going to try growing quinoa for arrangements this summer after seeing photos on your website. --That seems pretty different, but maybe I'm wrong ;)
Stacey: We're always excited about multi-purpose plants. Take your quinoa example, for instance. It makes a gorgeous fresh-cut spike, it also dries well and holds it's color, and to top that all off, it makes a high protein, edible seed! Feed it to poultry or wash it for eating at home. Awesome. You can both grow stems for cutting and still be producing food for your family (of course, you just have to reserve some of the stems from cutting).
In this vein, we're also excited about cress, amaranth, dill, atriplex, basil, calendula, sunflowers, zinnia, cosmos, marigolds, barley, wheat, sorghum, millet, daisies, dahlias, and asters. All of these plants are edible (think restaurants, b&b's, and wowing your guests) and many have fascinating forms, texture, and flavor.
Thank you, Stacey for this great introduction. To learn more about Siskiyou and browse their seed collection, please visit www.siskiyouseeds.com. Follow Siskiyou on Instagram at @siskiyouseeds or Stacey at @floraorganicflowers .