The Good Seed Company adventure began back in about 1980 with Will Ross, an organic gardener, growing and saving seeds in his home garden in Tonasket, Washington, in the Okanogan valley of north central Washington, about 23 miles from the Canadian border.
In 1995 friend Harris Dunkelburger and several members of the Triple Creek Community north of Chesaw, Washington bought the company from Will. The Triple Creek gardens are just 2 miles from the border. Located at about 3,000 feet elevation, their growing season falls on the cusp of Zones 3 and 4, due in good part the phenomenal sunshine that area receives.
Harris stewarded the Good Seed Company for over 17 years, assiduously testing and saving seed varieties that grow well in the terraced organic gardens that surround his straw-bale, solar-powered home.
Folks who frequented the natural food stores in North Central Washington in the decades between 1995 and 2012 may remember Harris and his seeds which he stocked in 40 stores around the area.
In the days before internet, The Good Seed Company developed a loyal customer base who trusted Harris, his knowledge and his seeds. He kept in touch by mail and newsletter, sharing growing tips he learned in his 35+ years of gardening and seed-saving. Harris continued that same level of care and attention to his customers when he created the on-line version of the company.
In 2012 The Good Seed Company was placed in the care of Terry DuBeau and Michael Pilarski, who ultimately found me, Robin Kelson, as the company’s new steward!
I am delighted to carry on the Good Seed Company tradition, with the help of many friends. First and foremost is Harris who continues to grow many of the seeds that the Good Seed Company sells. He also is a trusted advisor and company consultant.
Similarly, Terry and Michael are present as advisors and seed consultants. Terry and I share a common vision of bringing the energy and vitality of the Good Seed Company and its seeds to new and seasoned gardeners of all ages everywhere. We’d love to see gardens popping up in windows, backyards and street corners, and help be a part of humankind’s reconnection with the earth and the bounty she provides when we work in collaboration with her. Currently, Terry is working through the school children of Hot Springs, MT.
Michael Pilarski is a farmer, educator and author who has devoted his life to studying and teaching how people can live sustainably on this Earth. He is particularly interested in the interface between permaculture, ethnobotany and ecosystem restoration. He has extensive experience in organic farming, permaculture, wildcrafting medicinal herbs and plants. Michael worked with Will Ross in the early years of the company, and lived in the Triple Creek community with Harris for six years. He ran his own seed company, “Friends of the Trees Seed Service,” from 1978-1986, which offered seeds for trees and shrubs, Native American foods, Pacific Northwest flowers, medicinal plants, wildlife food and honey plants. Currently, Michael is focusing on growing medicinal plant seed, creating food forest gardens, and building a permaculture school in Hot Springs, MT.
Seeds, biodiversity, sustainability, gardening, nutrition, and the concepts of balance, ecosystems and community have been a part of my life and my thinking for as long as I can remember.
In the late 70’s, just out of high school, I found my way to David Cavagnaro’s magical “Pippindale Farm” in Santa Rosa, CA. Here we tended a 1.5-acre organic garden by hand, with 150 different fruit trees, all grafted from trees David remembered and loved growing up in the Tamalpais Valley. We grew and saved seeds from plants native to all parts of the world, most of which were new to me. David went on to manage Seed Saver Exchange’s preservation gardens in Decorah, Iowa, and ultimately to found and run the Pepperfield Project, a nonprofit devoted to teaching about sustainability, genetic preservation, healthful eating and food gardening. It is safe to say that David mentored me in all things plant-related.
I went on to pursue a degree in botany which ultimately led to molecular biology and, believe it or not, a law degree. In the late 1990’s I began to focus on the developing epidemic of chronic disorders we were witnessing in the American population, from asthma and diabetes, to cancer, multiple sclerosis and the host of food allergy disorders that were beginning to come forward. I spent the next decade endeavoring to understand what was at the source of the imbalances that was manifesting as these disorders. I explored and studied this question from as many different cultural and philosophical perspectives as I could. I am clear, as are many others, that a key component is the loss of nutrient-dense food in our diets, which stems from a loss of nutrients in our soils. Quite succinctly, the imbalances we are witnessing in our bodies are a microcosm of the imbalances we are witnessing on our planet, most particularly, in our water, our air and our soil. As we rebalance that, we will rebalance ourselves.
I am dedicated to revitalizing and rebalancing our soils. I also am a problem-solver, not really a talker. When I find a solution that works, I dedicate myself to it 100 percent. In 2010 I met Michael Smith working in his laboratory on a solution. It’s called the Green Power House, and it has the ability to revitalize and even regenerate our soils with organic nutrient-dense amendments the likes of which I have not seen before. Using waste biomass and algae, the Green Power House also can power 100 homes, reclaim water, sequester carbon, and provide a self-sufficient climate-controlled greenhouse that can grow a half-acre of food year-round. It is a solution that can bring self-sufficiency and self-reliance back to a community. In less than four years we’ve taken this project from a laboratory prototype to a commercial-scale operation. I hope the Green Power House will play a significant role in helping to rebalance the planet and ourselves.
My vision for the Good Seed Ccompany is three-fold:
to expand the seed offerings to include those of medicinal and nutrient-storing plants, native seeds, wildlife seeds, and seeds that restore habitats and ecosystem biodiversity.
to expand the seed sources to include those of like-minded dedicated organic farmers and gardeners in the area.
to be a resource for new and seasoned gardeners in any way that supports rebuilding our soil, revitalizing our food and rebalancing our bodies and our planet.
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