Category Archives: Marketing Seed

Organic Seed Growers Conference Webinars

Below is the official information for 6 webinars broadcast from OSA’s Organic Seed Growers Conference.
I am one of the speakers in Seed Economics: How to Make Growing and Selling Seed More Profitable.
If you’re interested in listening, make sure to register for the webinars!

The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is hosting their 8th biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis Program from February 4 – 6, 2016. While there is a great contingency of BC and Canadian growers attending the 2016 conference not everybody can make the trip.

We are happy to announce that OSA, in partnership with eOrganic, will be offering a number of the conference workshops via webinar!

You can register for the webinars here.

Below is a quick list of the webinar topics and times and you can find a more detailed list here.

  • Seed Economics: How to Make Growing and Selling Seed More Profitable
    • Friday, February 5th, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Pacific
  • Seed Equipment: On-farm Innovations
    • Friday, February 5th, 1:30 – 3:00 PM Pacific
  • Vegetable Breeding Research Updates
    • Friday, February 5th, 3:30 – 5:00 PM Pacific
  • Organic Cover Crop Seed Production
    • Saturday, February 6th, 9:00 – 10:30 AM Pacific
  • Vegetable Seed Production: Scaling up
    • Saturday, February 6th, 1:30 – 3:00 PM Pacific
  • Managing Seed Borne Disease: Brassica Black Leg and Implications for Organic Seed Producers and Industry
    • Saturday, February 6th, 3:30 – 5:00 PM Pacific

Talking Seeds On Permaculture Voices Podcast

In December I was a guest on the Permaculture Voices podcast.

I spoke with Diego Footer about

  • the profitability of growing seeds for sale,
  • differences between growing seed crops and market vegetable crops,
  • and how much space a seed crop actually takes.

You can listen to the podcast here.

This podcast is a lead up to one of the workshops I’ll be giving at Permaculture Voices 3 this spring. At that event I’ll also run a workshop about crop planning for farm profitability.

2014 Tourne-Sol seed catalog

Our new seed catalog is out.

Cover 1final

Actually it’s been out since the end of January but I didn’t take the time to post it here!

This is a new step in Tourne-Sol catalogs. It has a lot more colour (4 pages!) & it is fully bilingual French/English.

We used to print a different version for each language but it was a pain when catalogs in one language ran out. It also meant writing 2 catalogs. Integrating both languages took some extra but should be ahead of the game for next year. (Or so I hope.)

One challenge with a bilingual catalog is how to classify crops. For some we could just classify bilingually and it wouldn’t matter (such as carrots/carottes or beets/betteraves.) However other crops are written very differently in both languages (beans/haricots; squash/courge; eggplant/aubergine) and it means that organizing alphabetically means one language group can’t find what they are looking for.

We chose to confuse everyone. We classified by botanical family, and then by scientific name! We did put an index at the beginning of the catalog, I just hope it’s enough! Next year, it will be more comprehensive.

Enjoy our catalog, feel free to order large amounts of seed, and please tell me what you think of our crop classification!

Planning Seed Crops Webinar – Wed. Feb 19, 2014

You are invited to join us for a webinar on Planning Vegetable Seed Crops. 
The first in our series “Growing for Seed: The Fundamentals” this webinar will feature presentations from Patrick Steiner (Stellar Seeds, BC), Daniel Brisebois (Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm, QC), and Michelle Smith (Northwind Farm, NS). Together they’ll cover a range of topics to get you started in your seed garden this year, including:
–Knowing seed crops & lifecycle patterns, isolation distances, and population sizes;
–Sourcing appropriate seed stock and integrating seed production onto your farm; and
–Using and marketing seed crops: intended use and prospective buyers.
DATE: Wednesday February 19th, 2014
TIME: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
 
TO JOIN THE MEETING, simply click here, or copy and paste this link into your browser:
Once the meeting is started you should be able to see and hear everything directly on/from your computer. If you can see the meeting, but you can’t hear us, you can dial-in (toll-free) to get the audio.
The phone number is 1-866-811-9555, the conference code you will be prompted to enter is 9730133156. Please use your phone only if you can’t use your computer.
In order to participate in the webinar you’ll need:
–A computer with Flash. If you can watch (and hear) a YouTube video, you’re probably all good. If you can’t try downloading Flash Player here.
–If you’re in a shared space, you’ll want headphones to plug into your computer to hear the audio without disturbing others.
If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before you can get a quick overview here: http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html
If you have questions about how to join this webinar, please contact Steph at seed@acornorganic.org 
If you can’t join us on Wednesday, but are interested in this content, we will be posting it online at www.seedsecurity.ca. Please be patient with us, we’ll post the content as quickly as we can.
 
Please note that this is an English webinar. We are planning 2 French webinars and will keep you updated on that as details are confirmed.
THANKS!

2013 Tourne-Sol seed catalog

We’ve finally finished out 2013 seed catalog. You can download it from the Tourne-Sol website.

Last year we’d set a Jan. 1 release date target. Though Stella has been a big help with germ tests and seed packing this winter, we’re a bit behind on that release date! Maybe next year …

Also, Jordan Marr interviewed me for the ruminant podcast. You can hear the first part of our conversation about seed production.

Germ testwtmk

 

Tourne-Sol’s 2012 Seed Catalog and New Website

This post is the official launch of both our 2012 Seed Catalog and  Tourne-Sol’s new farm website.

2012 Seed Catalog

You can download the actual catalog from these links:

New Website and Online Store

Our new Tourne-Sol website is at our old address www.fermetournesol.qc.ca but with a new look and new features such as

  • An Online Store for our seeds, teas, and more;
  • A blog Newsletter archived by recipe;
  • A Meet Your Farmers Page where you can read about the Tourne-Sol farmers and apprentices;
  •  A Virtual Farm Tour with tons of images;
  • And more!

We built the site ourselves (with a lot of support from Koumbit) using Drupal, a free open-source content management system; and Ubercart, an e-commerce platform. Though it’s required a lot of learning, Drupal lets us do just about anything we want including getting the site fully bilingual (English and French).

Over the next couple of months we’ll be adding a few more pages to the site and continuously looking for typos but after 8 months of labor (with a huge push in December and January) we’re thrilled to see it go live.

Enjoy!


Also we will be at the Montreal Seedy Saturday and Sunday this weekend at the botanical gardens. If you’re in the area and you love seeds, you should come by.

Seed Production Planning Part 2 – Calculating Seed Needs

This is the second part of a series on crop planning for seed production. Seed production planning part 1 covered growing small trials to evaluate whether a variety was worth growing to seed on your farm in your climate.

Once you’ve decided the varieties for  this year’s seed production, you need to determine how much seed you would like to harvest.

GROWING SEED FOR MULTIPLE  YEARS

Under good storage conditions most seed will last a number of years. You can grow enough in one year to cover your seed needs for multiple years. This has a few benefits:

  • Growing fewer varieties gives you more space for better isolation distances to avoid cross-pollination.
  • Growing a larger number of plants of on variety provides more plants to observe and you can better select the most fit individuals. Large population also maintain a broader genetic pool that ensures more resilient varieties.
  • Cleaning bigger seed lots is easier than cleaning small seed lots.

For most varieties, I aim to grow enough seed for at least a 3-year supply. (This is not possible for all varieties. I.e. parsnip, leeks and onions lose germination quickly after a year in storage.)

(You can read a previous post about isolation distances and population sizes.)

HOW MUCH SEED DO YOU NEED?

Consider all the ways you sell or use seed, and estimate the needs for each use. This includes

  • Seed you use on-farm. This is calculated from your crop plan – basically the rowfoot you plan to grow multiplied by a seeding rate. (The crop planning for organic vegetable growers handbook covers this.)
  • Seed sold through a seed catalog (in packets or in bulk). This is projected from the previous year’s sales records.
  • Seed sold to other seed companies. This is based on how much seed they need.

Then make a chart to summarize this information. Here are two examples loosely based on our farm.

EXAMPLE 1 – TATSOI SEED NEEDS

Tatsoi is a leafy green from the Brassica rapa species.

At Tourne-Sol farm, we seed a lot of Tatsoi to sell bunching or as part of our salad mixes. We also sell Tatsoi seed as packets to gardeners and in bulk quantities to other farmers.  And our seed company clients purchase regular amounts of our Tatsoi seed.

 Purpose 2012 2013 2014 Total
Farm Use 120g 120g 120g

360 g

Packet Sales 100g(50pkts x 2g) 120g(60pkts x 2g) 140g(70pkts x 2g)

360 g

Bulk Sales 1kg 1kg 1kg

3000 g

For Other Seed Companies 1kg 1kg 1kg

3000 g

TOTAL

6720 g

We’ll need to harvest about 7 kg of Tatsoi seed to meet our projections for the next 3 years.

EXAMPLE 2 – JAUNE FLAMMÉE TOMATO SEED NEEDS

We need significantly less tomato seeds than Tatsoi seeds. Since we transplant tomatoes, our on-farm needs are low and we only sell packets through our seed catalog. Our seed company clients purchase a significant volume but they usually buy enough seed for multiple years at once.

 Purpose 2012 2013 2014 Total
Farm Use 1g 1g 1g

3 g

Packet Sales 5g(50pkts x 0.1g) 6g(60pkts x 0.1g) 7g(70pkts x 0.1g)

18 g

Bulk Sales

0 g

For Other Seed Companies 300g

300 g

TOTAL

321 g

We’ll need to harvest 321 g of Jaune Flammée tomato seed to meet our projections.

——————–

In our next seed production planning installment we’ll figure out how many plants to grow to meet these seed needs.