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

Desert or Paradise

Desert or Paradise

By Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer farms steep mountainsides in Austria 5,000 feet above sea level. His farm is an intricate network of terraces, raised beds, ponds, and waterways, well covered with productive fruit trees and other vegetation, in dramatic contrast to his neighbors' spruce monocultures. Fans of Sepp Holzer have come from all over the world to see the productivity of his farm, a veritable permaculture paradise. His first book, Sepp Holzer's Permaculture, offers a detailed guide to what Holzer has achieved on his farm. Many readers might have wondered-but how can we achieve this on a global scale? Luckily, his newest book, Desert or Paradise, examines Holzer's core philosophy for increasing food production, earth health, and reconnecting mankind with nature, applied to reforestation and water conservation across the world.

Through years of consultation with other countries, Holzer has developed a core philosophy for reconnecting mankind with nature even in arid or otherwise "lost-cause" regions. He details a process he calls "Grundierung," a term from painting meaning "base coat," which goes into great detail the importance of water, and Desert or Paradise offers his concept and guide to construction of large water reservoirs in arid, rainfall-dependent regions with examples from Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Portugal. Holzer describes the ecological and economic benefits of these changes, as well as the use of a variety of plant and animal species for further integration and regeneration of the surrounding areas, including reasons for reforestation and the cause and use of forest fires.

Holzer also outlines his ten points of sustainable self-reliance and how these methods can help feed the world, such as the need to regulate the water budget, eliminate factory livestock farming, bring more fallow or unused areas into production, enlarge crop areas by using terracing and Holzer-style raised beds, regionalize instead of globalize, fight for land reform and engage in community building, go back to the ancient farming wisdom, and change the educational system. Also included are Holzer's ideas on beekeeping, humane slaughtering, nature spirits, the loss of roots in our society in general, and in politics especially.

Available in: Paperback

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Desert or Paradise

Sepp Holzer

Paperback $29.95

The Winter Harvest Handbook & Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman (Book & DVD Bundle)

The Winter Harvest Handbook & Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman (Book & DVD Bundle)

By Eliot Coleman

This filmed workshop on year-round vegetable production offers farmers and gardeners the rare chance to sit in with Eliot Coleman, one of the pioneers of the organic farming movement and author of The New Organic Grower, Four-Season Harvest, and The Winter Harvest Handbook.During his careers as commercial market gardener, director of agricultural research projects, developer of tools for organic growers, and teacher and lecturer on organic gardening, Coleman has studied, practiced, and perfected his craft, and while you can bring Coleman's books with you into your garden, there's nothing like getting the advice straight from the man himself.

Included in the DVDs:

  • The history of season-extension farming in Europe
  • Information on moveable greenhouses and using fabric covers
  • Growing tips in terms of nutrition and marketability
  • Rodent control
  • Curing and packing using sustainable materials
  • How to work with restaurants and chefs (and create a demand)
  • Information on tools, soil health, and vegetable varieties that survive well in the cold
  • Additional photos, diagrams, and climate maps

And more...Experience a workshop with bestselling author and expert in season extension, based on a filmed daylong workshop and extensive interview. Complete with a slide show, images from Coleman's own farm over the years, his travels to Europe, and detailed plans for his model of season extension, this film is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sit down with a master.

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable-living trend that's taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman helped start this movement with The New Organic Grower, published 20 years ago. He continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.Building on his long-time expertise, The Winter Harvest Handbook, Coleman's latest book, focuses on growing produce of unparalleled freshness and quality in customized unheated or, in some cases, minimally heated, movable plastic greenhouses. The book includes concise details on greenhouse construction and maintenance, planting schedules, crop management, harvesting practices, and even marketing methods in this complete, meticulous, and illustrated guide. Readers have access to all the techniques that have proven to produce higher-quality crops on Coleman's own farm.A passionate advocate for the revival of small-scale sustainable farming, Coleman provides a practical model for supplying fresh, locally grown produce during the winter season, even in climates where conventional wisdom says it "just can't be done."

Available in: Mixed media product

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The Winter Harvest Handbook & Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman (Book & DVD Bundle)

Eliot Coleman

Mixed media product $64.95

Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

By Anna Edey

Heat, electricity, transportation, food, wastewater, and solid-waste management—in ways that cause near-zero harm, reduce cost of living, increase security, freedom, and quality of life.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the way we are living is not sustainable. We perceive that our high-consumption lifestyles are contributing to ever more pollution of our air, water, and soil; ever more destruction of rain forests and mountains; more devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and drought; and the depletion of soils and aquifers. Even our planet’s vast oceans are being degraded by overfishing, acidification from fossil fuels, and millions of tons of toxic trash.

Green Light at the End of the Tunnel contains some stunning information about the harm we caused by how we live, and some even more stunning information about solutions that are available today: truly sustainable, reliable solutions that can reduce harm and cost to nearly zero.

Anna Edey, author of Solviva, shows how homeowners can reduce by up to eighty percent the cost of electricity, driving, comfort, hot water and wastewater management, and produce or procure much of their food without the use of fossil fuels or pesticides—all while increasing food security and creating stronger local economies. It also contains fifty pages of unique Solviva designs drawn to scale and many more pages of conceptual drawings.

Available in: Paperback

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Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

Anna Edey

Paperback $35.00