It’s late winter, and gardeners everywhere are thinking of seed catalogs and dreaming about getting their fingers back into the soil. Even here in northern New England we’re starting to get anxious, since it has been one of the warmest and least snowy winters on record.
So, just in time, Carol Deppe has sent us her first official list of varieties for sale from her new company, Fertile Valley Seeds, in Corvallis, Oregon. The on-line descriptions offer a brief but exciting glimpse into the kinds of vegetables that Carol has been working so diligently to improve over the years – developing crops that are climatically suited to the unique growing conditions and climate of Oregon, in addition to being incredibly nutritious and designed for homestead self-reliance.
Carol is a remarkable woman – a gardener, writer, seed saver, plant breeder, and Harvard PhD. Her two classic books, both published by Chelsea Green, are Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties  and the recently published The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times . The latter was named one of Amazon.com’s Top Ten Gardening Titles of 2011, and recently was chosen as a finalist for the About.com Readers Choice awards.
The select seed varieties Fertile Valley is offering this year include highly nutritious food plants that Carol has either bred herself or has selected and improved over the years. She describes her ‘Cascade’ series of colorful flint corns as “the ultimate survival crop,” perfect for homestead gardeners who want to produce their own corn meal. And several other intriguing strains – like the ‘Hannan’ popbean (think chickpea/garbanzo) and the legendary Oregon heirloom ‘Sweet Meat’ winter squash – are also available. All of the vegetables are open-pollinated (non-hybrid) varieties that are in the public domain – all characteristics that Carol and her friends, like plantsman and Seeds of Change co-founder Alan Kapuler (aka, “Mushroom”) prize about all else in this day and age, when multinational “life sciences” companies are trying to monopolize our food supply, all the way from seed to table.
If you’d like to receive a seed list from Fertile Valley Seeds, you can send an email request to [email protected] . Or visit Carol’s website (www.caroldeppe.com ) and follow the link to her books on Amazon.com to read more about the life work of this truly unique and inspirational woman.
— Ben Watson, Senior Editor