December 22, 2023

Growing the Heirlooms of Tomorrow with Don Tipping

Episode 17 of the Soft Focus Podcast

The foundation of every farm and garden begins with a seed. On this week’s episode, we dive into the world of seed production, why it matters, and how you can be more informed about purchasing seed and producing your own.

Don Tipping is a farmer, permaculturalist, seedsman, and owner of Siskiyou Seeds, in the Siskiyou mountains of southwest Oregon. As stated on their website, “Siskiyou Seeds is dedicated to providing growers of all scales with organic, open-pollinated seeds of exceptional vigor, quality, and integrity.  We are unique in the seed world in that we actually grow most of the seed that we sell here at our home farm.”

Today, Don walks us through why it matters that Siskiyou Seeds actually grows their own seeds at their home farm, or by partnering with nearby farms, and how bio-regionally adapted seeds are the gateway to the heirlooms of tomorrow.

Corinne and Don discuss—

• Origin story of Siskiyou Seeds

• The work of adapting seed “with your hands on the dial”

• How the industry at large moved away from open-pollinated seed selection, to exclusively hybrids

• How to make open-pollinated seeds even better than hybrids using classical seed selection techniques

• How large scale commercial seed production is geared to a very specific market based on economies of scale

Wild Garden Seed

• How John Navazio shaped Don’s education of learning how to breed for disease resistance, nutrition etc

Gregor Mendel and the birth of genetics

• The overlapping of art and farming in seed production and flower farming

• Why bioregional adaptation matters for producing the seed crops of tomorrow

• How to separate the wheat from the chaff in open-pollinated seed production

Turtle Tree Seeds

• Adding a face to a seed packet Creating a “Terroir” seed collection

Rowen White of Sierra Seeds

Don Tipping’s Seed Academy

Nikolai Vavilov

Kristyn Leach of Namu Farm and Second Generation Seeds

• The journey of the cucurbita maxima to the United States

• Using genomics to unpack the “real” story of seeds

• How the home gardener can look at seed saving

• The importance of curiosity

• The need to backstop, or guarantee, bioregional seed companies

Find Don and his products at siskiyouseeds.com, as well as on Instagram @siskiyouseeds

If you have questions or comments about today’s episode, we’d love to hear from you! Please email us hello@latebloomerranch.com, or reach out on instagram @latebloomerranch. And if this episode resonated with you, please take a moment to share it with someone else who might also benefit. We would also love it if you left us a rating and review.

See you next time.

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