Our Seedy Partner Profile series profiles all of the seed companies that sell OSSI-pledged varieties – our seed company partners.  To read the first three posts in this series, refer to the main blog page. Many of our OSSI-pledged varieties have been bred by independent breeders that sometimes don’t have direct access to means of large-scale seed production. Therefore, these seed company folks are a crucial part of the grassroots OSSI model – we can’t access and proliferate this seed without people to get it from in the first place.

The seeds offered by independent seed companies are often unique, have a great story, and some are bred and adapted in organic systems and for specific regional climates. Sounds like a good place from which to start your own seed story, doesn’t it?

Open Circle Seeds is owned and operated by Gina Covina in Potter Valley, CA.
Some content excerpted from the Open Circle Seeds website.
Photo from Open Circle Seeds

After decades of gardening, the vegetables began to call me to a deeper involvement in the future of food. “Grow our seeds,” they said. “Help us carry on, and we’ll adapt ourselves to your changing climate and provide you with the nutrients you need.” What a deal. I began my seed education, relying heavily on the resources of the Organic Seed Alliance, and started selling the seed I grew in 2009, as Laughing Frog Farm Seeds.

A move from my patchwork of gardens to an actual farm prompted the name change to Open Circle Seeds. We are certified organic by CCOF. We grow and sell organic grass hay and an assortment of vegetable and fruit crops as well as seed. Our market plantings revolve around the reproductive needs of our seed crops, for timing, isolation distances, and population sizes. We love growing variety trials to identify the very best for the next year’s seed crops. Our criteria: vigor, productivity, and resilience under challenging conditions — and most of all, delicious taste.

We’re proud to be located in Mendocino County, California, the first county in the United States to ban production of genetically modified plants. In addition to being non-GMO and organically grown, all our seed varieties are open-pollinated, never hybrids. We believe the future sustainability of our food systems depends on our stewardship of heirlooms and our development of resilient open-pollinated varieties.

How did you decide to get into the seed business/growing seeds?

I believe it is a way to keep rare varieties available for current and future generations, as well as an effective response to the takeover of seed resources by Monsanto et al.   But most of all, because the plants persuaded me!

How did you learn about seed growing and/or plant breeding? Who were inspirational figures/mentors in your learning? Any favorite books or other writings?
The Organic Seed Alliance was my main source of info for seed growing. Mentors and inspiration include: John Navazio, Carol Deppe, and Steve Peters. My main reference books have been: The Organic Seed Grower and The Seed Garden.
Photo from Open Circle Seeds
Why is open source seed important to you?
It’s a moral question — life forms should not be patented or owned, especially the food plants that have co-evolved with humans for a thousand years.
What are your primary channels for selling seed?
Online (www.opencircleseeds.com). Also, we have seasonal racks at stores and nurseries in northern California, and attend the annual Heirloom Expo (in Santa Rosa, CA) and other special events locally.
What’s your favorite variety that you grow/sell?
Piracicaba, aka Brazilian Broccoli
Mountain Honey melon
Trombetta squash, an Italian heirloom C. moschata that excels for both summer and winter eating
I’ll just stop there, though I could as easily add another couple dozen…

Learn more about Open Circle Seeds and peruse their seed selections on their website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *