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2024 Annual Letter

Hello my seed-growing compatriots,

The new year is officially here and, despite my best efforts, I (Hayley) can no longer claim that it is still early January. Winter is passing and there is work to be done to bring another year of food and seeds to fruition!

This year you'll notice some changes as you scope out the Underground Seed Co. offerings.

When we started the company in 2019, our goal was to grow varieties that we liked and to share that seed with others. Early on we offered one hundred varieties of vegetables, flowers, bean, herbs, and grains in seed packets, and as garden starts. To pull this off, we bought some of our seed from other, trusted seed companies and repacked that seed for our customers.

Jack in the early days of USC, hand-pollinating cucumbers.

Although this is standard (and necessary!) practice for most seed companies, it really killed the romance we had going with our own fledgling company. Sending off seeds that had no real connection to our soil and our hands just didn't feel like a good fit.

So in the subsequent years we pared our listings down to what we could sustainably and successfully grow on our existing vegetable and blueberry farm in the McKenzie Valley of Oregon.

At the same time as this paring down, I began a new love story with beans.

Beans chose me, through the opportunity to work on an organic snap bean breeding project with renowned vegetable breeder, and serious bean expert, Dr. Jim Myers. And between 2019 and 2022, I delved deep into snap beans. In that era, I also began growing dry beans for Underground Seed Company. It was the perfect way to channel my bean obsession, without adding to the acreage of snap beans already under my control.

One of Hayley's snap bean fields from her Masters research.

By 2023, dry bean production took up most of our seed production field, and we had to make a decision about the future of our vegetable seed production. And the beans won.

Beginning in 2024, Underground Seed Company will be a space, and a source, for beans.

Our goal is to focus our energy on providing seeds of a diversity of beautiful, interesting, and delicious dry beans!

In 2024, we have a collection that includes stunning heirlooms and landraces, powerhouse varieties bred by the USDA in the 1980s and 1990s, and some incredible modern cultivars that bring heirloom beauty with disease resistance and high yields. No matter what you're excited about in the world of beans, we have something for you.

Beyond sharing these seeds with you, we strive to:

  • Share the origin stories for each variety we sell, to the greatest degree possible, including regional significance and the specific breeders/organizations that developed each variety.

  • Monitor and eliminate the presence of seed-borne disease in our heirloom seed stock.

We hope you enjoy what we have to offer this year. There are some fantastic new varieties that we've added to the lineup this year, which you can find on the New This Year page, as well as many returning favorites!

In green-thumbed solidarity,

Hayley & Jack

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