Seed tests yield winter-hardy greens

original article written by STEVE BROWN / Capital Press found at

CHIMACUM, Wash. — John Navazio gestured toward a sampling of freshly harvested vegetables, all of them varieties of radicchio.

“Americans are used to seeing just one variety, but radicchio comes in many forms and colors,” he said. “They’re especially good for you (small farmers) because they’re a cold-weather crop, extending your season.”

Navazio, research and education specialist with the Organic Seed Alliance, was speaking during a Nov. 11 farm tour at Finnriver, a farm south of Chimacum on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

“Endive and escarole lose it at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but radicchio and other chicories are cold-hardy, providing salad greens and cooking greens any month of the winter.”

Navazio said farmers are ramping up seed production of 21 radicchio varieties this year. Those varieties’ colors make for unique market opportunities, he said.

Seed growers are also working on a winter carrot that can handle the freeze-thaw cycles common to the area.

“We’re dancing on the razor’s edge, where temps get down to 10 to 15 degrees F,” he said. Navazio described plantings under cover in eastern Canada that continued to produce down to 14 degrees F.

The idea is to extend the growing season as long as possible without erecting tunnels — “better living through less plastic,” he called it. “But if you’re into tunnels, you can go to minus 10 F.”

Navazio mentioned the “Persephone period,” those days with less than 10 hours of daylight. Winter plants are not growing, but are still alive. The radicchio, whose taproot system is “an incredible scavenger of nutrients,” he said, is an excellent candidate for the winter market.

Planting times also affect how a crop will withstand winter temperatures. One test row was planted the first week of July and transplanted the first week in August. Another was planted three weeks later. The later planting didn’t reliably make heads, he said, but they were more cold-hardy. “You can sell these as loose-leaf lettuce in January or February.”

The head varieties can be refrigerated in bags, where they’ll keep well for up to three months.

It all starts with the seed, Navazio said. “The right seed comes from good varieties for the region, whether it’s cover crops, grains or vegetables.”

People who get their seeds from catalogs have a limited selection, and they’re dependent on what is available. If a variety has been discontinued, they’re out of luck. But those who grow their own seed in network with other farmers always have a wide variety, specifically suited to their growing conditions.

Some local growers are even producing for those seed catalogs.

“The local economy of seed evens out the farmers’ market. That’s what’s powerful,” he said.


Organic Garlic Seed Available For Slackers!

It’s your lucky day!

If you’re in need of more garlic to plant, I just got a tip from Christie that Farmacy Herbs has organic garlic seed available. But get on it! Time’s a-wastin!

Contact Mary at Farmacy Herbs 401 270-5223

FARMACY HERBS is located at
28 Cemetery St. Providence, RI.

Open hours are:
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: 10am-5pm

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ATTENTION: Professionals, Researchers, Graduate Students

Journal of Agriculture,  PLEASE POST

Food Systems, and  Community Development


The Essential Principles of Small- and Mid-Scale

Food Value Chain Development Manuscripts due February 15, 2011

For details about JAFSCD and author guidelines, visit

JAFSCD invites researchers, ag/food system development professionals, and others to submit applied research papers, critical reflection essays, commentaries, and other manuscripts that provide critical insights into small- and mid-scale food value chain development.

Food value chains (FVCs) are a hot topic among agriculture and food systems development professionals. In FVCs, farmers and ranchers are treated as strategic partners, not as interchangeable — and exploitable — input suppliers. Values-based food supply chains (value chains) are strategic alliances between farms, ranches, and other supply-chain partners who distribute rewards equitably across the supply chain. They can include farm-to-institutions (schools, hospitals, prisons), multiproducer processors and wholesalers, multifarm CSAs, food hubs, food webs and networks, and the like. All partners in these business alliances recognize that creating maximum value for the product depends on significant interdependence, collaboration, and mutual support.[1]

Research suggests that successful mid-scale FVCs are built on three foundations:

  • Appropriate volumes of high-quality, differentiated, market-engaging food products, coupled with value-adding stories of people, land, and practices;
  • Strategic partnerships based on trusting, transparent, and win/win business relationships; and
  • Effective, efficient supply-chain management and logistics, including product marketing, aggregation, processing, distribution, and record-keeping.

Papers can explore specific components within a chain (a farmer co-op or association), interactions of two or more links in a chain (farmers, wholesalers, processors, retailers, and eaters), or an entire chain. Examples include:

  • Case studies of successful or failed FVC programs
  • Research and education strategies that help build resilient FVCs
  • How are FVCs playing a role in rural development?
  • The role of FVCs in increasingly multifunctional rural landscapes
  • Systematic analyses of key differences between FVCs and traditional food supply chains
  • Local and global FVCs: influence of globalization on FVCs; should these be accepted or mediated?
  • Overview analysis of the values chain sector (comparisons or outcomes across many cases)
  • Implications of new food safety legislation on values chains
  • Storage and transportation logistics
  • Branding and geographical identity
  • Performance and impact analysis
  • Scaling up
  • Building trust and transparency
  • Business planning and/or record-keeping

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development is a NEW online-only international, peer-reviewed journal focused on applied research and best practices in the development of thriving farming communities and sustainable food systems. Peer reviewers include development practitioners, organization and agency staff, faculty, graduate students, consultants, and farmers from around the world with expertise in a wide range of agriculture and food-systems issues as they relate to community, ecological sustainability, and economic development. JAFSCD is online at

[1] Adapted with permission from Stevenson, G. W. and Pirog, R. (2008). Values-based supply chains: Strategies for agrifood enterprises of the middle. In T. Lyson, G. W. Stevenson, and R. Welsh (Eds.), Food and the Mid-Level Farm: Renewing an Agriculture of the Middle. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


The Journal welcomes papers at any time on any subject related to the development aspects of agriculture and food systems.

Content can focus specifically on conservation and farmland protection, value-adding, cooperative marketing, value chains, distribution, farm labor, market research, consumer decision-making drivers, and other topics. Authors are encouraged to submit applied research papers, commentary, and thought-provoking articles that inform the emerging field of agriculture and food systems development. Faculty and students, Extension and other educators, planners, consultants, staff with farm agencies and farm and community organizations, and farmers are invited to submit material.

For both calls, manuscripts should focus on the practical application of these innovations: the organization and mechanics of a program or strategy; engagement of stakeholders; challenges and unique solutions; impact analysis; and lessons learned. The Journal encourages “accessible scholarship” — minimizing jargon, writing in the active voice, and addressing the interests of both practitioners and academics. These papers should inspire and inform new and existing community development efforts to establish and sustain farms. Papers that feature survey results with descriptive statistics, or case studies featuring best practices (or even post-mortem analyses), are highly encouraged.

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
is publ
ished by New Leaf Publishing and Consulting (

Purple Soup

Recipe: Purple Soup

Summary: beets, sweet potato, parsnip, onion, carrots


  • 4 beets 1 pound parsnips 2 onions 3 sweet potatoes 1 pound carrots canola oil


  1. Peel and cut up into 1 inch chunks: beets, parsnips, onions, and sweet potatoes, and put them into a large pot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and simmer until vegetables are soft. Meanwhile, cut carrots into slices and fry in canola oil. Add to the other vegetables. When the soup is cooked, puree with a stick blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. This recipe is from David Karoff.

Recipe by Judith Plotz.