Do you grow your own food? Do you rely on that food to feed your family? Here at Sterling College in Vermont, we would answer both of those questions with a hearty “Yes!” About 20% of the food consumed by our students, staff, and faculty is grown right here on the Sterling Farm by our students. Another 54% is sourced (very) locally from like-minded producers. 76% of our food can be traced back to the farm, field, or cow where it originated. Imagine that!

As a school dedicated to environmental stewardship that offers four-year degrees in both Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, it’s our job – and our mission – to live by our values, practice what we preach, and grow what we eat!

seed trialsFortunately for us, High Mowing Organic Seeds is just down the road. If you haven’t heard of them already, they are an all organic seed company who “believe in a deeper understanding of how re-built food systems can support health on all levels – healthy environments, healthy economies, healthy communities, and healthy bodies. We believe in a hopeful and inspired view of the future based on better stewardship for our planet. Everyday that we are in business, we are growing; working to provide an essential component in the re-building of our healthy food systems: the seeds.” They were the first seed company to launch a line of certified Non-GMO Project Verified seeds and their visionary owner, Tom Stearns, is a Trustee of our humble institution.

You can usually spot anywhere between two to five Sterling alums working the day away at High Mowing, but, beyond supplying them with a steady stream of labor, we collaborate in other ways too. As we speak, we are trialing several High Mowing seed varieties and, over the course of the summer and harvest season, we’ll share some details with you on this exciting collaboration.

seed trialsSo right about now you may be asking, “What is a seed trial?” Simply put, seed trials are when a variety of seeds are planted in order to learn how they performs in certain climates and management systems, resistance to certain pests, how they taste, how they store, etc. There is a science to conducting good trials and there are a lot of benefits to it as well. Because Sterling College is an institute of higher learning, every aspect of our farming practice is a ‘teachable moment’ and we’re thrilled to collaborate with High Mowing Organic Seeds to further expand our students practical experience with trials and ensure the food we store for the Fall and Winter is ample and delicious.

Last year was our first trial with High Mowing, and it was a tremendous learning experience. The output of those trails – both the data and produce – revealed a lot that we could optimize for this year, and we’re excited to share this journey with you. Next week we’ll share the details on what we’re planting this year and how we arrived at those varieties based on last year’s experience! Stay tuned…..

Filed Under: Blog Community Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Work