One-on-One with Rob Johnston, Jr
Growing an Independent Seed Company
Article by Mary Yee
VEGETABLE GARDENING is on an upswing among American home gardeners, and for Rob Johnston, Jr, it's good news. For more than 40 years, the founder of Johnny's Selected Seeds (JSS), located in Winslow, Maine, has been quietly espousing the merits of organic vegetable gardening and building an award-winning company.
Small commercial growers are JSS's primary customers, but home gardeners also look to JSS for a variety of vegetable seeds, many of them organic and heirloom, some bred by Johnston himself. Last year, amid rising gasoline prices and the weakening US economy, JSS experienced a dramatic surge in its home gardening base, a phenomenon also noted by many other seed companies. Gardening for food, which had long taken a backseat to ornamental gardening, is suddenly in fashion again. "We didn't see it coming," Johnston admits. "It was a huge surprise."