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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Message from CR Lawn of Fedco Seeds

Message from CR Lawn of Fedco Seeds

Ted M.
TedMarkow
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 21
I just received my seed order from Fedco. Within the box was a letter from CR Lawn (funny, I never got a letter from Johnny's...). I found the letter to be interesting, informative, and hopeful. I include the relevant parts below (underlining is mine):

He begins by stating that Fedco may reach the million dollar sales mark by the end of March and goes on to say...

"Our 22% growth is our largest since Y2K. What is even more astonishing is that ALL the other divisions are doing just as well, with Trees topping out at over 25% growth...

"In at least one respect, though, what is good news for us is not necessarily so for you who ordered on the back end of our season. The unexpectedly high demand has created a growing list of out-of-stock items... We promise to increase our seed contracts with our suppliers and niche varieties that our growers are maintaining. We promise to increase our seed contracts with our suppliers for next year and to ramp up our own seed production. But we are hearing from the hinterlands that crude oil price increases that have driven the ethanol boom are now reverberating across the whole spectrum of agricultural commodities. My partner Eli informs me that wheat prices have more than tripled in the past year. Our suppliers are warning us of 30 - 40% price increases to come next year. Of course, we will not have to raise our prices that much because the cost of seed itself accounts for less that $1 our of every $3 spent in our operation... But the price of fuel is also impacting our overhead, from shipping costs to heating costs to snow removal costs. Seeds will never again be as much of a bargain as they are right now.

"It feels like we are at the cutting edge of a sea change in peoples' daily lives. The impact of record oil prices, the dawning of true acceptance of the possible consequences of global warming, the renewed interest in local foods inspired by Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Slow Foods and others are beginning to register and change our behaviour. And while I knew just before Y2K that the cause of our growth then was ephemeral, I have a very different feeling about this surge of interest. Recent articles in the New York Times suggesting a renewed dedication to self-reliance and a sudden reluctance to continue going deeper into debt are resonating. It looks like the days of profligacy are over, about to be replaced by a renewed emphasis on thrift and frugality..."
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 287
Wow. Thanks for posting this, Ted.

I am definitely hearing and feeling the same thing. And the word "permaculture" is popping up in the most unlikely places as people start talking about how to navigate the waters ahead...

I know that getting the word out about permaculture was not high on the list of this group's priorities for the year, but I think we should also consider the fact that our friends and neighbors (and complete strangers) are - in many cases - struggling with what to do, where to start. Often they are feeling quite alone in their concerns. People are overwhelmed, but then very eager to start ... start ... something.

My feeling is that permaculture has a very important role to play within our societal response to the second half of the fossil fuel age. As we face imminent energy descent, we have choices to some degree on how this all plays out. As many of you know, I'm not comfortable in the role of "permavangelist" but I also think it's important to create opportunities for people to connect, discuss, skill up and implement practical change where they stand on this earth right now.
Merry & Burl H.
BeMerry
Portland, ME
Post #: 38
Yes, Ted; yes, CR; and yes, Lisa! This is the wave that is carrying me to publication of my book, "Mainely Local Foods." I am hoping it will carry the book to a large readership with minds hungry for healthy news in sick times, inspiring news in despairing times, and news of abundance in a time of scarcity. Our own Lisa F. and David S., as well as CR Lawn and 50+ others have already been interviewed and will appear in the book.

We are blessed to be in Maine at this time. Our lower population density, lesser commitment to mass production and corporate culture, water wealth, expanding growing season, and heritage of traditional (not industrial) agricultural knowledge place us well for the coming changes. However, we have much to lose if we don't quickly develop a concern and policies for stewarding this common wealth. We stand in danger of being colonized by corporate profiteers, greedy to profit off others' needs and resources. We also will need to be prepared to help those in agriculture who are at risk of losing their livelihood in the coming years of climate change--like maple sugarers, lobster fisherfolk, and balsam fir foresters--to transition without crisis.

Therefore, I for one give you a vote of thanks, Lisa, for being a permevangelist. Evangelism has never been my forte either; but, hey! We must grow with the times. As Roger Doiron, the kitchen gardener, says: "Victory gardens aren't only for times of war; they promote peace, security, and sustenance."
Lisa F.
lisa.f.organizer
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 340
Ted M.
TedMarkow
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 35
Hmm...not surprised. I think it's great that more people are thinking of growing some of their own food. If only they could stay at it long enough to push back on large growers. Imagine communities full of yard farms...

On another note, a friend of mine has a farm in Washington state and she grows (and has seeds for) Wells rice which she says don't need to be grown in water. Anyone familiar with this?
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