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?


The Flower Farmer

The Flower Farmer

By Lynn Byczynski

The domestic cut flower business has experienced a renaissance in the past decade, thanks in large part to the first edition of The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers, which helped thousands of small growers start successful businesses. This newly expanded and thoroughly revised edition will be equally as influential for novices and experienced growers alike.

With the cut flower business growing at record rates, demand is at all time highs, challenging growers to take advantage of new techniques to prolong the harvest. New sections on utilizing greenhouses, recommendations for flower cultivars, and post harvest handling growers throughout all of North America will help improve their bottom line. Also updated is the acclaimed resource directory, complete with sources of seeds, plants and supplies, and expert information on organic production under the National Organic Program.

For the beginner and backyard gardener, there is an extensive section on the basics—variety selection, soil preparation, planting, cultivation, harvest, and floral design. For the commercial grower, The Flower Farmer includes information about larger-scale production, plus advice about selling to florists, wholesalers, supermarkets, brides, at farmers markets, and more. Also includes revised profiles of successful growers offering behind-the-scenes insight into the operation of some of the cutting edge flower farmers in the country.

Because of the extensive revisions and enhanced content, this new edition of The Flower Farmer is essential reading for those already in the flower business, as well as those who dream of growing flowers for enjoyment or profit.

Available in: Paperback

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The Flower Farmer

Lynn Byczynski, Robin Wimbiscus

Paperback $35.00

The Art and Science of Grazing

The Art and Science of Grazing

By Sarah Flack

Grazing management might seem simple: just put livestock in a pasture and let them eat their fill. However, as Sarah Flack explains in The Art and Science of Grazing, the pasture/livestock relationship is incredibly complex. If a farmer doesn’t pay close attention to how the animals are grazing, the resulting poorly managed grazing system can be harmful to the health of the livestock, pasture plants, and soils. Well-managed pastures can instead create healthier animals, a diverse and resilient pasture ecosystem, and other benefits. Flack delves deeply below the surface of “let the cows eat grass,” demonstrating that grazing management is a sophisticated science that requires mastery of plant and animal physiology, animal behavior, and ecology. She also shows readers that applying grazing management science on a working farm is an art form that calls on grass farmers to be careful observers, excellent planners and record-keepers, skillful interpreters of their observations, and creative troubleshooters. 

The Art and Science of Grazing will allow farmers to gain a solid understanding of the key principles of grazing management so they can both design and manage successful grazing systems. The book’s unique approach presents information first from the perspective of pasture plants, and then from the livestock perspective—helping farmers understand both plant and animal needs before setting up a grazing system.

This book is an essential guide for ruminant farmers who want to be able to create grazing systems that meet the needs of their livestock, pasture plants, soils, and the larger ecosystem. The book discusses all the practical details that are critical for sustained success: how to set up a new system or improve existing systems; acreage calculations; paddock layout; fence and drinking water access; lanes and other grazing infrastructure; managing livestock movement and flow; soil fertility; seeding and reseeding pastures; and more. The author includes descriptions of real grazing systems working well on dairy, beef, goat, and sheep farms in different regions of North America. The book covers pasture requirements specific to organic farming, but will be of use to both organic and non-organic farms. 

Available in: Paperback

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The Art and Science of Grazing

Sarah Flack, Hubert Karreman

Paperback $39.95

Growing, Older

Growing, Older

By Joan Dye Gussow

Michael Pollan calls her one of his food heroes. Barbara Kingsolver credits her with shaping the history and politics of food in the United States. And countless others who have vied for a food revolution, pushed organics, and reawakened Americans to growing their own food and eating locally consider her both teacher and muse.Joan Gussow has influenced thousands through her books, This Organic Life and The Feeding Web, her lectures, and the simple fact that she lives what she preaches. Now in her eighties, she stops once more to pass along some wisdom-surprising, inspiring, and controversial-via the pen.

Gussow's memoir Growing, Older begins when she loses her husband of 40 years to cancer and, two weeks later, finds herself skipping down the street-much to her alarm. Why wasn't she grieving in all the normal ways? With humor and wit, she explains how she stopped worrying about why she was smiling and went on worrying, instead, and as she always has, about the possibility that the world around her was headed off a cliff. But hers is not a tale, or message, of gloom. Rather it is an affirmation of a life's work-and work in general.

Lacking a partner's assistance, Gussow continued the hard labor of growing her own year-round diet. She dealt single-handedly with a rising tidal river that regularly drowned her garden, with muskrat interlopers, broken appliances, bodily decay, and river trash-all the while bucking popular notions of how "an elderly widowed woman" ought to behave.

Scattered throughout are urgent suggestions about what growing older on a changing planet will call on all of us to do: learn self-reliance and self-restraint, yield graciously if not always happily to necessity, and-since there is no other choice-come to terms with the insistencies of the natural world. Gussow delivers another literary gem-one that women curious about aging, gardeners curious about contending with increasingly intense weather, or environmentalists curious about the future will embrace.

Available in: Paperback

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Growing, Older

Joan Dye Gussow

Paperback $17.95

Edible Perennial Gardening

Edible Perennial Gardening

By Anni Kelsey

Do you dream of a low-maintenance perennial garden that is full to the brim of perennial vegetables that you don’t have to keep replanting, but have only a small space? Do you want a garden that doesn’t take much of your time and that needs little attention to control the pests and diseases that eat your crops? Do you want to grow unusual vegetable varieties? You can have all of this with Edible Perennial Gardening.

Anni Kelsey has meticulously researched the little-known subject of edible perennials and selected her favorite, tasty varieties. She explains how to source and propagate different vegetables, which plants work well together in polycultures, and what you can plant in small, shady, or semi shady beds, as well as in sunny areas. It includes:

 • Getting started and basic principles

• Permaculture, forest gardening, and natural farming

• Growing in polycultures

• How to chose suitable leafy greens, alliums, roots, tubers, and herbs

• Site selection and preparation

• Building fertility

• Low-maintenance management strategies

If you long for a forest garden but simply don’t have the space for tree crops, or want to grow a low-maintenance edible polyculture, this book will explain everything you need to know to get started on a new gardening adventure that will provide you with beauty and food for your household and save you money.

Available in: Paperback

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Edible Perennial Gardening

Eric Toensmeier, Anni Kelsey

Paperback $22.95