Who are we?
We are a small regional seed company located in Willits, California working with real-people farmers to produce hand-crafted market-ready varieties at the top of the game.
Not all heirloom seeds are equal
Many seed companies are creating varieties that favor bulk seed production over market quality.
Many of the heirloom varieties that we know and eat are getting cross-bred with the commercial varieties and it's causing them to lose their amazing flavor and textures in exchange for the bland commodity we see in the super market. There are however real-people farmer-breeders producing and maintaining Open Pollinated seeds that outshine the hybrids in the field and cook up tasty like grandma's in the kitchen.
Saving Seed = Breeding
When you save seed you are breeding. You are deciding which traits to carry on to the next generation. When you save seed from the melon that made the most seeds year after year you are creating a variety that favors lots of seed production. If you were to instead save seeds from the melon that made the least seeds and tasted the sweetest, then after a few years you would have a variety that made less seeds, more flesh and tasted sweeter.
At Sundial Seed Company our breeders are creating varieties that people love to eat.
Sundial seed is working to co-create delicious market-ready true-breeding varieties with our seed-producers by stewarding breeding & variety-maintenance projects.
Starting with great tasting heirloom and open pollinated seeds our breeders are working with plants in a dry farmed environment. These actions carry over into the seeds and the varieties change to create deep roots and mouth watering vegetables increasing flavor and ensuring that our plants better handle drought.
We have signed the Safe Seed Pledge and offer zero GMOs.
Steve Peters, one of our seed producers, has been working with the Organic Seed Alliance to test and trial the best Open Pollinated Varieties against the Hybrid F1's.
Many market farmers still prefer to grow hybrids, as they often have higher yields, more uniformity, and improved crop quality. Hybrids, however, will not produce true-to-type seed, making them unsuitable for on-farm seed saving. As a result, most commercial farmers have become completely reliant upon the seed companies to provide the genetics they need. This is a major reason for the seed industry's focus on hybrids and other proprietary seeds, such as GMOs. Over the past sixty plus years, vast public and private resources have been invested in commercial F1 hybrids (first generation crosses), while open pollinated crops were almost completed ignored (except for OP-only crops such as lettuce & beans). If OP breeding were to be given even a modest amount of support, a host of significant agronomic and horticultural traits including yield, uniformity, and disease resistance could be achieved across a wide range of crops. - Steve Peters
Steve Peters on Patents:
Most crucially, OP seed must be held in the public domain to ensure free access to that seed for future breeding and development. The 1970 Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) was enforced so that breeders could be compensated for their work. It demanded a royalty payment from anyone selling the seed, but at least it did not prevent someone from using it as breeding material. Innovation within the industry continued. With the advent of GMOs within the last 20 years, PVPs have largely been replaced by the much more restrictive Utility Patents, which completely prevent the use of protected varieties for breeding or on-farm seed saving. Only a handful of large corporations own these seeds, and innovation has been stifled because valuable genetic material has become unavailable to the breeding public. Newly bred varieties of OP seed may be vulnerable to these patents. A recent novel approach to keep seed in the public domain has been the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI), which essentially promotes the concept of ethical seed sharing by committing to the following pledge: "Anyone purchasing these OSSI-pledged seeds has the freedom to use them in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others' use of these seeds or derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives". - Steve Peters