Updated August 1, 2015
NEW CATALOG POLICY FOR 2016
We will not be sending out any more bulk mailings of the 2015 printed catalogs for this year.
After much thought, prayer and discussion we have had to make a very tough decision. We will not be publishing a printed 2016 catalog that will be mailed out. This is tough for us as I am a firm believer in printed materials and the historical documentation that results from them. I have a huge collection of seed catalogs dating back into the 1880's which has proven invaluable for research on varieties, their introduction, early history, etc. I have long been a critic of the lack of paper copies and now find myself somewhat of a hypocrite, preaching one thing and doing another. Our reasons for the change are multifold. Perhaps the biggest is the constant changes by the USPS and the restrictions they have put on small operations such as ours. We used to be able to sort and then mail our catalogs from our local Post Office. Now we have new sorting criteria which takes at least three times as long and they must be taken to a Post Office 15 miles away. We also are penalized since we are not bar coded and after this past year's fiasco of being ready to go on January 2 and having to wait almost a week for a bulk mailing specialist to come review and then tell us we had to redo everything. We redid everything and it still took 3 weeks for most people to get their catalog. We keep having to pay extra fees because of our low volume, our labels, and other items. To mail the catalogs out has become a major event. The rules for sorting were changed for each of our subsequent mailings this year and each time it took Linda more time to sort the mailings. Unfortunately, it seems the rules are set up for huge "junk mailings" but requested items such as our catalog are penalized. What will happen for 2016 is that our website will remain pretty much the same as it is now. You will need to print the order form off and mail it to us by US mail. We will be updating the website much sooner, probably by late November or early December. What we will do for those that want to print it off is that we will be having a PDF of the catalog on the website so you can run off your own copy. Look for this PDF in late November. The chief advantage to this is that we will not have to be tied into the eight (8) page increments that our present printed catalog must fall into. Therefore, we can hopefully provide more detailed information and maybe finally get all of the poultry production information out there for our customers to use. We are kind of excited to be able to ramble on some of the special histories of our older varieties without fear of added costs from a thicker catalog.
Other reasons for the change include the proper usage of our resources, both financial and time. With changes in the seed world we are having more and more folks send us their family heirlooms for safe keeping. Seed Savers Exchange has changed its acquisitions policy and we have been receiving a lot of material for preservation. In addition, when our dear friend Tom Knoche passed away, we acquired his huge collection of seeds and with all of this we have to spend more time on such items. We feel the preservation of this material is important and a key part of our mission. The amount of money we spend on the catalog printing and postage will help us hire more help to insure more varieties are saved. I have had to realize that as much as I would like it is getting harder each year to plant and care for the 2000 plus varieties we grow each year. We also want to make sure more of our sweet potato varieties are carefully grown out and carefully backed up with a plant in the greenhouse. This itself has become very time consuming and maintaining the greenhouse (especially during our cold winters) has become rather expensive. Our top priorities in our mission have always been genetic preservation first and second the education on the importance of that issue. As it is very hard for some to understand we have to carefully control our growth to make sure we can still maintain our mission. Since we grow the seed we sell for over 80% of the varieties we offer, there is a limit to how much we can do. For the items that are unique to our operation, we cannot simply order more stock once we run out as we are the one and only source for many things. This frustrates many people but it is why we are not a profit/sales driven business but a preservation center. We feel the preservation of the genetic material is more important than how hot a seller it is. We will continue to purchase some common items that many people want to complete their gardens. The sales of these items also helps to fund the preservation items as well as helping to keep more of these more common, open pollinated non-GMO's in the mainstream.
The last reason is that we noticed that of the last 30 orders that came in by mail 28 of them were from the website and only 2 were from the last mailing of our printed catalog. This is another reason we feel we can provide more information if we focus our energies and resources in one area.
Hopefully, by the 2017 season we can have a website with photos of all items: seeds, poultry, and sweet potatoes. While this is our goal, we will still prioritize the maintenance of our living genetic resources before we spend time on the computer.
Again our apologies to those who love the paper catalog. We do understand that some people do not have access to the internet in their home. Hopefully, they will have a friend, grandchild, or the library where they can find access to our online catalog. We hope you can find the PDF file a usable alternative. This most certainly has not been an easy decision.