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Letter From The Wild Garden

This has been quite the year around here, aside from the record winter freeze and record summer heat. We purchased a new home farm for Wild Garden Seed “world headquarters” this summer, directly adjacent to GTF, finally getting business out of our kitchen and living room after 20 years, and creating new open space for the next generation of Wild Garden Seed people to grow into. 2015 will see us opening new ground at Aurora Farm, and creating the infrastructure for the next phase of Wild Garden Seed’s evolution.

Karen and I began WGS in 1994 at the same kitchen table where her laptop is sitting now. The seed business was an adjunct to our Wild Garden Salad business until September of 2001, when we left salad selling behind and rededicated all of our energies to making a livelihood as seed growers, breeders, and sellers. There were some very tough years there. In 2002 we began a joint venture with our friends John Eveland and Sally Brewer, owners of Gathering Together Farm, to grow and sell organic seed under the Wild Garden name. Gathering Together Farm provided the infrastructure, means of production, and home office services, Shoulder to Shoulder Farm provided the seed management, processing, research, and marketing. We shared many complimentary farm functions over the years– the insectary benefits of diverse flowers in a long period of blooming, the harvest synergies of biennial crop production together, peaks and ebbs in farming cash flow, and seasonally opportune infrastructure sharing. All of these made the farm function better and helped lift Wild Garden Seed into a self-sustaining, farm-based seed enterprise with an international reach. We sold seed to 41 countries in 2014, our 20th anniversary.

Now, all of us in this business together need to get our business straight. We are thinking of succession, how and to whom these farms and their businesses will be passed along. This is a looming topic for those of my time, and only a few of us have it well planned. Certainly, simpler is better. With that in mind, Wild Garden Seed has been recently re-organized as a part of Shoulder to Shoulder Farm (owned by Karen and myself), organically certified by Oregon Tilth under the S2S Farm name, with its home office at our new location on Aurora Lane just outside Philomath, OR, and right across the road from GTF.

In the future, we will continue growing crops at GTF and Hank Keogh’s Avoca Farm, as well as the original Wild Garden at Shoulder to Shoulder, and at our new place, Aurora. This will provide new role opportunities and skill development for our maturing staff, and may afford some peace of mind for all of us wondering how the arc of our farming careers will progress and, eventually, conclude.

—FHM, 12/21/14

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