Seeds are a hot topic at Arcadia Farms these days. We just wrapped up an heirloom seed giveaway this past week. The week before that I shared a Seed Starting Spreadsheet with you that can help you determine when to plant seeds and approximately when your harvest will be ready. That same week I also shared a list of seed sources with you. It wasn’t until after I created that list of seed sources that I realized I had forgotten someone! I want to share information with you about a new heirloom seed company founded by some of our family friends. But first a little background…
Around the time I left my full-time job to become a suburban farmer, an article came out that discussed a movement of young people (20’s and 30’s) flocking to farming. The article cites several reasons why young entrepreneurs are turning to agriculture rather than corporate jobs. Some of the major reasons include the stifling nature of corporate America, a strong demand for local and organic foods, the opportunity to be self-employed and the intangible rewards of doing work you love. The article is endearing to me because I am part of that movement of entrepreneurs who’ve (passionately!) traded desks for dirt.
The Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company Story
Jarrod and Kendra Tishhouse are part of that movement as well as co-founders of Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company (located in Lancaster County, PA). I recently had an opportunity ask Jarrod some questions about Urban Farm HSC. If you’re interested in supporting creative entrepreneurs who are investing in the future of sustainable agriculture, you’ll want to read on to hear their story!
Q: What inspired you to start Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company?
A: Kendra (my wife) and I really feel called to sustainable living and we feel that one way to preserve sustainable living is in the preservation of heirloom seeds (non-hybridized non-genetically modified varieties of seeds that produce true-to-form generation after generation). In light of big agriculture and chemical companies stream-lining “perfect” tasteless vegetables, we want to make sure that people continue to have access to heirloom varieties of seeds, and also invest in their food future!
Q: Please share a little bit about how Kickstarter played a role in the startup of your company. [Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects.]
A: Kickstarter is an invaluable resource to us. Not only does it provide all the start-up costs for your business, it single-handedly proves that you have an idea worth selling and helps you access people out of your immediate circle who would be interested in your project. Heck, we sent seed capsules as far as Portugal, Taiwan, and Australia among others!
To visit Jarrod and Kendra’s Kickstarter page for Urban Farm HSC, click here.
Q: What surprised you most about the startup process?
A: It is definitely a lot of work getting all of your ducks in a row! You have to know all your costs from A-Z, and you have to connect with the people that you want to support your project – let them know that you’re a real person with a real beating heart who believes in what they are doing.
Q: Please tell us about the products you offer.
A: We currently offer seed “capsules” in a couple of different options – a standard Survival Capsule with everything you need to plant a well-rounded garden, and a completely Customized Capsule where you choose all 25 varieties. We also just launched a new, “Ready-to-Start” garden that comes unsealed and non-capsulated for those looking to get started right away at a cheaper price! Now’s a great time to get your garden kit for the Spring season, and all of our kits come with included planting-times and seed-saving instructions! We are also looking to the future with other sustainable garden capsules and new projects.
Q: Some of your products are designed for long-term storage. What measures do you take to keep seeds from becoming sterile over time?
A: There are three specific factors that harm a seed over time: Light, oxygen, and temperature. Our Urban Farm capsules aim to keep the first two intact, but unfortunately we have no control over the last. (We put a suggestion on all of our capsules to store them in a cool place). Our seeds are sealed in mylar bags which are then encapsulated. You can literally bury your capsule in the ground if you want to (we keep ours in the freezer)!
Q: What can customers do to help maintain the viability of their seeds?
A: You’ll want to keep your capsule in a cool place. I suggest a fridge or freezer, a cool basement or cellar, or just burying it straight in the ground. The mylar bag has a zip-lock enclosure, so you can re-seal your bag after you’ve opened it. (It comes heat-sealed, however, and once you do unseal it initially the oxygen absorber inside can be spent rather quickly if you leave it open).
Q: Why did you select the seed varieties that you offer?
A: We wanted to offer the standard varieties, but I really like fun varieties too. We are constantly going to be updating the different kinds of seeds available for our custom gardens. I’m a big fan of purple and red carrots, yellow lemon tomatoes, and banana melons! When we started on this journey, we had no idea how many varieties there are out there that you would NEVER find in a supermarket!
Q: What are some of your future plans for Urban Farm Heirloom Seed Company?
A: I have been thinking about this since day one! The seed capsules and gardens are only a start for us. We are looking to the future for other sustainable methods that we can apply not only to our lives, but to those around us! Our next step is to start a full local CSA in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, transforming our yard-space into a literal “urban farm.” I am in the midst of planning out the details right now, and we are VERY excited about this! Look forward to a new Kickstarter project within the next week or two!
Q: What advice would you give to new gardeners?
A: I would suggest doing research. Organic gardening is the only gardening worth doing and many people frown at the amount of work they think is involved. I suggest Googling a film called “Back to Eden” as a good starting place, as that revolutionized the way my wife and I did our garden this year. Gardening can be far easier than people make it out to be, you just need the right resources at your fingertips!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like Arcadia Farms’ readers to know?
A: We are so grateful for people investing in a young company like ours! Many people don’t realize the amount of work that goes into running a personal business – it’s a lot of work with little pay, but for me it’s a labor of love. We enjoy what we do. Sure, gardening, canning, dehydrating, and all the other facets of sustainable living definitely are a lot of work, but I can tell you one thing for sure: Every night at dinner time I am SO glad we do what we do. Our food is fresh and delicious, not stale and filled with preservatives and chemicals. It’s an ongoing transformation, and Urban Farm HSC is just one way to help us live the way we do, while helping others too!
Your Part of the Story
If you live in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania and would like to join the Tishhouse’s CSA – or if you love what they’re doing and would like to support their newest endeavor through Kickstarter – check them out here:
Another Annie’s Heirloom Seed Winner
Last week we ended a great giveaway for heirloom, non-GMO seeds from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds. Thanks again to everyone who entered! We had such great participation. Even though I was very happy for our winner, I wished I could do more for the rest of you. So I gave an open invitation for our readers to comment here on 1) What one thing they’d love to have from Annie’s catalog and 2) one garden tip. We planned to pick our favorite reader tip and give the winner the seeds they desire courtesy of the farm! And that’s just what we did…
Everyone had great tips (and I wish I could have picked more than one “winner”)! But at the end of the day, Tina’s Folded Newspaper Pot Pictoral takes the cake seeds. Congrats, Tina! She’ll be receiving the purple Falstaff Brussels Sprouts she desires. Thanks to everyone for their tips!
Did you enjoy this article? Visit www.arcadia-farms.net for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.