Green Journey Seeds are organically grown on a small farm nestled in the foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range. Seed growers, Steve Trimmell & Aline Crehore, have dedicated themselves to saving seeds, a natural extension of their love of plants and farming. Poppy Swap asked Aline to share more of their inspiring story.
Tell us a little about your background and where you learned about plants, seeds, and seed saving?
Steve & I came together in 1990, when I was a freelance graphic artist in Eugene. We both like natural foods, gardening, hiking, reading non-fiction & poetry, listening to music & dancing. He is a country person and loves the earth deeply, and we share a keen interest in herbs and holistic medicine. We moved to our present location a couple of years later, and I realized my dream of living in the country. Here we built gardens with deer fences, a chicken house and a solar greenhouse, and started experimenting to see what we could grow in this place.
Green Journey began as a small plant nursery in the early 90’s. With a lot of hands on practice and careful research, we learned to grow many kinds of herbs. We joined the Farmer’s Market and sold a variety of plants and starts to our community for about 4 years. We developed a niche market for rare & useful plants from around the world.
Seeds have always been essential to this pursuit. Many times seeds were the only plant propagation material available. At home, we were growing the nursery stock out and learning to save the seeds. We learned through observation, by trial and error, and the seeds taught us their wonderful ways. When questions arose, we were graciously guided by other seed savers.
Steve & I had begun a valuable seed collection of our own, and we soon embraced the idea making seed packets to sell. We needed the plant nursery to grow the plants for our seed business, and Farmer’s Market was no longer the right venue for this, being closed January through March. Now we have been saving, sharing & selling our seeds for over 15 years! Green Journey Seeds may be purchased year-round on our racks at local stores. We sell farm direct to customers on Poppy Swap.
How are plants in your life today?
Most of our garden is dedicated to seed crops. This is the season to sow the cold hardy annuals like peas, poppies & onions. We weed and add compost to the perennial herbs which are re-emerging from the earth. We make plans for growing as many as we can of each crop variety and work out isolation strategies that will ensure viable crops of true to type seeds for our collection.
At this moment however, I am indoors, gratefully sipping tea made from the herbs we gathered last year. This tea contains the goodness of echinacea, yarrow, goldenseal, spilanthes, & ginger root sweetened with honey for my head cold. All but the ginger are homegrown!
How important is it to you for people to save their seeds?
Very! We believe it is essential for the preservation of our common biological heritage, that more people practice seed saving. In addition, evolution and adaptation are going on in the plants we grow today, giving us a greater capacity to adapt to climate change. This natural process comes to a halt in a seed vault.
Gathering herbs and saving seeds are ancient traditions. When we practice these skills, we find we often get a surplus. Sharing this bounty helps us to build more resilient communities. We have been taking part in local seed swaps for much of the last decade. We love to meet kindred spirits at the swap!
What products do you offer on Poppy Swap?
Most of the seed packets we offered last year are now relisted & packed with fresh seeds for 2012. New varieties this year are: a rare heirloom small flowered Zinnia (Zinnia pauciflora), Mexican Tarragon (Tagetes lucida), Perique Smoking Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), and Balloon Flower or Jie-geng (Platycodon grandiflorus). (These are currently in process, so please check back soon for these new listings.)
I can also make any of our seed packets into seed greeting cards. There is a great selection of cards already for sale on Poppy Swap and I’ll be adding a custom set that will allow you to choose of any 3 Seed Greeting Cards you like. I also plan to relist the packaged gift sets of 4 Seed Greeting Cards.
Describe your harvesting process?
This varies with the particular herb, so here I’ll discuss harvesting Ashwaganda (Withania somniferum) roots. A tender perennial and famous ginseng-like tonic herb from India, it can easily be grown here as a summer annual. It produces seeds and roots of medicinal value the first year from seeds sown in spring. A digging fork or shovel is all that’s needed to lift the plants.
We harvest the roots in late fall from the plants after gathering all the seeds. This will be around the time of our first frost, or mid-October to mid-November. I cut the tops off, and wash the roots well before drying. We dry all of our seeds and herbs indoors slowly on metal window screens suspended horizontally from the ceiling. This allows us to utilize the warmer air at the top of the room, and keeps them out of direct sunlight.
What is your favorite plant to work with? What has it taught you?
All of them! We only grow our favorites, of course! The plants have been generous with their lessons over the years, and herbal medicine has consistently supported our well-being. I find it a challenge to answer this with just one choice!
My favorite this Valentine’s week is an Ayurvedic herb, Cardiospermum halicacabum, a.k.a Heartseed Vine or Love in a Puff Vine. This has been used as a medicine in India & Africa for centuries. It relieves itching and inflammations from eczema, rashes, dry skin and skin allergies. We learned of it by trying Florasone TM Cardiospermum Cream (10% tincture of Cardiospermum) some years ago. It is marketed as a natural alternative to cortisone cream. We did a seed search and got it growing in our garden. Now we can offer the seeds to you.
Grown as a summer annual vine, with lovely, delicate divided leaves and tiny white flowers, it climbs up a trellis with pea-like tendrils. The seeds form slowly hidden inside green balloon-like puffs, which turn brown and dry when ready to gather. Three seeds to a puff, hard and black and round with a perfect white heart on each seed…who can resist this affirmation of love?