Chelsea Green Publishing

The Organic Seed Grower

Pages:408 pages
Book Art:Full-color illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781933392776
Pub. Date December 17, 2012

The Organic Seed Grower

A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
December 17, 2012


The Organic Seed Grower is a comprehensive manual for the serious vegetable grower who is interested in growing high-quality seeds using organic farming practices. It is written for both serious home seed savers and diversified small-scale farmers who want to learn the necessary steps involved in successfully producing a commercial seed crop organically.

Detailed profiles for each of the major vegetables provide users with practical, in-depth knowledge about growing, harvesting, and processing seed for a wide range of common and specialty vegetable crops, from Asian greens to zucchini.

In addition, readers will find extensive and critical information on topics including:

  • The reproductive biology of crop plants
  • Annual vs. biennial seed crops
  • Isolation distances needed to ensure varietal purity
  • Maintaining adequate population size for genetic integrity
  • Seed crop climates
  • Seed-borne diseases
  • Seed-cleaning basics
  • Seed storage for farmers
  • and more . . .

This book can serve as a bridge to lead skilled gardeners, who are already saving their own seed, into the idea of growing seed commercially. And for diversified vegetable farmers who are growing a seed crop for sale for the first time, it will provide details on many of the tricks of the trade that are used by professional seed growers. This manual will help the budding seed farmer to become more knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in producing a commercially viable seed crop.

With the strong demand for certified organic produce, many regional seed companies are increasingly seeking out dedicated seed growers to ensure a reliable source of organically grown seeds for their farmer and gardener customers. This trend represents a great business opportunity for small-scale commercial growers who wish to raise and sell vegetable seeds as a profitable part of their diversified small-farm operation. Written by well-known plant breeder and organic seed expert John Navazio, The Organic Seed Grower is the most up-to-date and useful guide to best practices in this exciting and important field.


“John Navazio has written a fantastic guide for organic seed breeders and producers. He has taken organic seed production to a higher level with extensive information on selection, genetic integrity, isolation distances, and seedborne diseases. Although his focus is on plant breeders and commercial growers, much of the information is also applicable to small-scale farms producing seed for on-site use.”--Suzanne Ashworth, Del Rio Botanical; author of Seed to Seed

“With The Organic Seed Grower, well-respected plant breeder and seed expert Dr. John Navazio has written "The definitive book on organic vegetable seed production. Encyclopedic, yet well written and approachable, this seminal work deserves a place in every grower’s library. From the organic farmer seeking a comprehensive reference, to the family farmer who wants to learn how to guarantee access to a favorite variety, to the progressive seed saver committed to success – all will find this book an indispensable guide and Navazio a trusted partner in organic seed improvement.”-- Jim Gerritsen, president, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA)

“John Navazio has made a keystone contribution to the future of the grassroots organic seed movement. The Organic Seed Grower is a fundamental resource for the preservation and improvement of agricultural biodiversity. It is an essential guide to high-quality, organic seed production: well grounded in fundamental principles, brimming with practical techniques, thorough in coverage, and remarkably well organized, accessible, and readable.”--Jeff McCormack, Ph.D., founder of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

“There is nothing more important right now than growing and saving seeds; that most essential aspect of life.  While we may have all done this once upon a time, we have mostly lost these skills to private industry or urbanization.  Until now.  John Navazio reveals all the techniques and tricks, some simple and some complex, that he’s learned only after decades of careful observation and practice.  Incredible photos help tell the story of life that seeds represent.  The Organic Seed Grower is what we need to take back community control of seeds from those who have taken it from us.”--Tom Stearns, president, High Mowing Organic Seeds

ForeWord Reviews-
As interest grows in sustainable agriculture practices, the need for organic seed is also on the rise. For a farm to be certified organic, the seed also has to be designated as such, but it’s not just those seeking or holding certifications who are leaning toward using this kind of seed. Gardeners, hobby farmers, community garden managers, and others are driving demand, particularly for heirloom vegetable varieties. Although there are several commercial companies that offer organic seed for sale, smaller growers and hobbyists are finding enjoyment and affordability in 'seed saving' for themselves. In this valuable, highly detailed exploration of the topic, John Navazio takes readers through the steps necessary to produce an organic seed crop, with best practices, a primer on crop plant biology, and tips on seed storage. Navazio is well-versed in the topic as the senior scientist for the Organic Seed Alliance and a plant breeding and seed specialist for Washington State University Extension. Insightful and experienced, Navazio provides information in a straightforward, easy-to-follow manner. After a fascinating stroll through the history of agricultural seed, he then covers vegetable families—such as alliaceae, brassicaceae, and cucurbitaceae—and their characteristics before delving into the details of particular vegetables, like leeks or lettuce. Even for those who don’t plan on seed saving, these chapters are stunning in their straightforward presentation of complex material, including soil and fertility requirements, growing methods, harvest, and genetic maintenance. As a farmer might say, every description is nutritionally dense. Although the guide is most relevant to farmers who might want to sell seeds as part of a diversified small-farm operation, Navazio’s expertise will likely be fascinating to the backyard gardener as well. Much like other types of homesteading skills, seed saving can be something of an art, and, fortunately, Navazio is an expert teacher.


  • Winner - Garden Writers Association Award, Silver
  • Winner - American Horticultural Society Book Award 


John Navazio

John Navazio is both the Senior Scientist for the Organic Seed Alliance and a Plant Breeding and Seed Specialist for Washington State University Extension. He trains farmers, university students, and others in organic seed production and on the fundamentals of on-farm plant breeding. His own breeding work has resulted in a number of new vegetable varieties with improved quality, flavor, and texture, as well as a greater ability to scavenge nutrients, compete with weeds, and resist heat and drought. John develops participatory breeding projects with farmers across North America to improve crop germplasm for regional seed independence. He is the author of The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production.


What's So Special About Organic Seed?

What's So Special About Organic Seed?


Earth User's Guide to Permaculture, 2nd Edition

Earth User's Guide to Permaculture, 2nd Edition

By Rosemary Morrow

The principle for permaculture is simple: provide back to the earth what we take from it to create a sustainable environment. The three principle aims are: Care for people; care for the earth; and redistribute everything surplus to one's needs.

This completely revised and updated edition of Rosemary Morrow's highly successful Earth User's Guide to Permaculture is a straight-forward manual of practical permaculture. Fundamentally, permaculture is design science and in this new edition design is emphasized. This book will be most beneficial if you apply it to the space where you live and work. The same principles apply for becoming more sustainable and living lightly whether you live in a small city apartment with a balcony, in a house with a garden in the suburbs, or on acreage in the country.

Included in this new edition are chapters on seed-saving, permaculture at work, integrated pest management, information about domestic as well as rural water usage, a non-destructive approach towards dealing with weeds and wildlife, and designing to withstand a disaster.

Earth User's Guide to Permaculture is suitable for beginners as well as experienced permaculture practitioners looking for new ideas in moving towards greater self-reliance and sustainable living.

Available in: Paperback

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Earth User's Guide to Permaculture, 2nd Edition

Rosemary Morrow, Rob Allsop

Paperback $37.95

The Forest Garden Greenhouse

The Forest Garden Greenhouse

By Jerome Osentowski

With a revolutionary new “Climate Battery” design for near-net-zero heating and cooling

By the turn of the nineteenth century, thousands of acres of glass houses surrounded large American cities, becoming a commonplace symbol of the market garden and nursery trades. But the possibilities of the indoor garden to transform our homes and our lives remain largely unrealized.

In this groundbreaking book, Jerome Osentowski, one of North America’s most accomplished permaculture designers, presents a wholly new approach to a very old horticultural subject. In The Forest Garden Greenhouse, he shows how bringing the forest garden indoors is not only possible, but doable on unlikely terrain and in cold climates, using near-net-zero technology. Different from other books on greenhouse design and management, this book advocates for an indoor agriculture using permaculture design concepts—integration, multi-functions, perennials, and polycultures—that take season extension into new and important territory.

Osentowski, director and founder of Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI), farms at 7,200 feet on a steep, rocky hillside in Colorado, incorporating deep, holistic permaculture design with practical common sense. It is at this site, high on a mountaintop, where Osentowski (along with architect and design partner Michael Thompson) has been designing and building revolutionary greenhouses that utilize passive and active solar technology via what they call the “climate battery”—a subterranean air-circulation system that takes the hot, moist, ambient air from the greenhouse during the day, stores it in the soil, and discharges it at night—that can offer tropical and Mediterranean climates at similarly high altitudes and in cold climates (and everywhere else). Osentowski’s greenhouse designs, which can range from the backyard homesteader to commercial greenhouses, are completely ecological and use a simple design that traps hot and cold air and regulates it for best possible use. The book is part case study of the amazing greenhouses at CRMPI and part how-to primer for anyone interested in a more integrated model for growing food and medicine in a greenhouse. With detailed design drawings, photos, and profiles of successful greenhouse projects on all scales, this inspirational manual will considerably change the conversation about greenhouse design.

Available in: Paperback

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The Forest Garden Greenhouse

Jerome Osentowski

Paperback $34.95

Natural Beekeeping (Book & DVD Bundle)

Natural Beekeeping (Book & DVD Bundle)

By Ross Conrad

Today's beekeepers face unprecedented challenges, a fact that is now front-page news with the spread of "colony collapse disorder." Newly introduced pests like varroa and tracheal mites have made chemical treatment of hives standard practice, but pest resistance is building, which in turn creates demand for new and even more toxic chemicals. In fact, there is evidence that chemical treatments are making matters worse.

It's time for a new approach. In this set, which includes the new, full-color, Natural Beekeping, Revised and Expanded Edition, and a DVD workshop, Ross Conrad brings together the best "do no harm" strategies for keeping honeybees healthy and productive, all of which are covered in a thoughtful, matter-of-fact way.

About Natural Beekeeping, Revised and Expanded Edition:

Now revised and updated with new resources and including full-color photos throughout, Natural Beekeeping offers all the latest information in a book that has already proven invaluable for organic beekeepers. The new edition offers the same holistic, sensible alternative to conventional chemical practices with a program of natural hive management, but offers new sections on a wide range of subjects, including:

  • The basics of bee biology and anatomy;
  • Urban beekeeping;
  • Identifying and working with queens;
  • Parasitic mite control; and
  • Hive diseases.

Also, a completely new chapter on marketing provides valuable advice for anyone who intends to sell a wide range of hive products.

Natural Beekeeping covers nontoxic methods of controlling mites; eliminating American foulbrood disease without the use of antibiotics; selective breeding for naturally resistant bees; and many other detailed management techniques, which are covered in a thoughtful, matter-of-fact way.

Whether you are a novice looking to get started with bees, an experienced apiculturist looking for ideas to develop an integrated pest-management approach, or someone who wants to sell honey at a premium price, this is the book you've been waiting for.

About Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad (DVD):

In this filmed workshop, Ross Conrad flips the script on traditional approaches by proposing a program of selective breeding and natural hive management. The video presents a comprehensive survey of natural beekeeping methods and challenges, including segments filmed in thefield. It offers practical information that every aspiring beekeeper needs to know—everything from basic hive equipment to working with your bees to harvesting and processing honey.

Available in: Mixed media product

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Natural Beekeeping (Book & DVD Bundle)

Ross Conrad, Gary Paul Nabhan

Mixed media product $54.95

The New Livestock Farmer

The New Livestock Farmer

By Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Jim Dunlop

Including information on cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, and goats, and exotics like bison, rabbits, elk, and deer

How can anyone from a backyard hobbyist to a large-scale rancher go about raising and selling ethically produced meats directly to consumers, restaurants, and butcher shops? With the rising consumer interest in grass-fed, pasture-raised, and antibiotic-free meats, how can farmers most effectively tap into those markets and become more profitable? The regulations and logistics can be daunting enough to turn away most would-be livestock farmers, and finding and keeping their customers challenges the rest.

Farmer, consultant, and author Rebecca Thistlethwaite (Farms with a Future) and her husband and coauthor, Jim Dunlop, both have extensive experience raising a variety of pastured livestock in California and now on their homestead farm in Oregon. The New Livestock Farmer provides pasture-based production essentials for a wide range of animals, from common farm animals (cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep, and goats) to more exotic species (bison, rabbits, elk, and deer).

Each species chapter discusses the unique requirements of that animal, then delves into the steps it takes to prepare and get them to market. Profiles of more than fifteen meat producers highlight some of the creative ways these innovative farmers are raising animals and direct-marketing superior-quality meats.

In addition, the book contains information on a variety of vital topics:

•    Governmental regulations and how they differ from state to state;

•    Slaughtering and butchering logistics, including on-farm and mobile processing options and sample cutting sheets;

•    Packaging, labeling, and cold-storage considerations;

•    Principled marketing practices; and

•    Financial management, pricing, and other business essentials.

This book is must reading for anyone who is serious about raising meat animals ethically, outside of the current consolidated, unsustainable CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) system.  It offers a clear, thorough, well-organized guide to a subject that will become increasingly important as the market demand for pasture-raised meat grows stronger.

Available in: Paperback

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The New Livestock Farmer

Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Nicolette Hahn Niman, Jim Dunlop, Bill Niman

Paperback $29.95