Press Releases

Johnny's Observes 50th Anniversary

An Enduring Commitment to Quality, Innovation & Service

Winslow, Maine: January 2023 — For 50 years, Johnny's Selected Seeds has been dedicated to helping families, friends, and communities to feed one another by providing quality seeds, tools, information, and service. … Read more

Johnny's Welcomes New VP of R&D, Kevin L Cook, PhD

Scientific Leadership & Oversight to Drive Innovation & Growth

Albion, Maine: December 2, 2020 — Johnny's Selected Seeds is pleased to announce the promotion of Kevin Cook, PhD to the position of Vice President of Research & Development. In his new role, Dr. Cook will be leading Johnny's product innovation and will oversee product selection and trialing, breeding, seed production, and quality assurance. … Read more

Johnny's Looks to the Future with Purchase of Warehouse

Employee-owned company builds equity in hard asset

Fairfield & Winslow, Maine : December 3, 2019 — Johnny's Selected Seeds has purchased its warehouse and office building after leasing the space from the Town of Winslow for many years … Read more

Johnny's, Clara & Eliot Coleman to Co-Host Field Day

Free Farm Tools Field Day at Four Season Farm in Brooksville, Maine

Fairfield, Maine : May 22, 2019 —Johnny's Selected Seeds and Four Season Farm will host a free Farm Tools Field Day in Brooksville, Maine on Monday, June 3rd. The event will be a jam-packed day of tool demos and education, focused upon improving the growing efforts of small-scale farmers and homesteaders. Attendees will learn new (and some not so new) processes for getting the most out of their growing operations… Read more

Johnny's Selected Seeds Announces 'Rhubarb Supreme'

Classical Plant Breeders Produce a More Bolt-Resistant, Refined Strain of Red Chard

Albion, Maine : January 3, 2018 —Swiss chard is both a commercial staple and a home garden favorite, but it can be susceptible to bolting, which means the plants put on flowers and set seed. Once greens like chard bolt, their flavor degrades, and they are no longer marketable.

Of chard types, 'Rhubarb' chard — with its beautiful red stems — is "notoriously early to bolt," says Dr. John Navazio, Johnny's Selected Seeds plant breeder. Navazio wanted to create a more bolt-resistant strain of 'Rhubarb' chard that would excel in organic growing systems and maintain vibrant and uniform red stems and green leaves… Read more

New 'Queeny Lime Orange' Zinnia Available Through Johnny's Selected Seeds

2018 AAS Award Winner with Stunning Colors

Albion, Maine : January 3, 2018 — Of the 30+ new flower varieties that Johnny's Selected Seeds is offering this year, 'Queeny Lime Orange' zinnia is one of the most exciting. It is a 2018 All-America Selections Committee (AAS) award winner, and it is easy to see why — 'Queeny Lime Orange' has striking coloration, with glowing apricot blooms that feature a blush of lime and bright rose centers… Read more

Johnny's Selected Seeds Announces New Summer Squash

Johnny's-Bred 'Tempest' Is a Culinary Star

Albion, Maine : December 4, 2017 — The classical plant breeding team at Johnny's Selected Seeds announces the release of its third Johnny's-Bred summer squash! The yellow crookneck squash, called 'Tempest,' was bred by Janika Eckert specifically for organic growers. It offers an excellent, buttery flavor; a firm texture that stands up well through a multitude of cooking methods, from grilling and roasting to pickling and braising; and a unique, vibrant yellow color with distinctive ridges and subtle striping.… Read more

Johnny's Celebrates Two More All-America Selections!

Johnny's-Bred 'Red Ember' Cayenne Pepper & 'Valentine' Grape Tomato Selected as Winners

Albion, Maine : November 15, 2017 — Johnny's Selected Seeds has won two more All-America Selections Committee (AAS) awards for its 'Red Ember' cayenne pepper and 'Valentine' grape tomato. Including these newest awards, Johnny's classical plant breeding team now has 12 AAS awards under its belt!… Read more

Calling All Gardeners, Growers & Gourmands
The event will also be a celebration of the formation of the Northeast Seed-to-Table Initiative, cofounded this year by Johnny's Selected Seeds and the Unity Food Hub.

You are cordially invited to the Second Annual Seed-to-Table Variety Tasting

Albion & Unity, Maine : September 12, 2017 — The doors of the Unity Schoolhouse will open wide for the 2nd annual Seed-to-Table Variety Tasting on Sunday, September 24th from 2–6pm, the final afternoon of the nearby Common Ground Country Fair. Following the model forged by Lane Selman, founder of the Culinary Breeding Network, Johnny's Selected Seeds and the Unity Food Hub have recently cofounded the Northeast Seed-to-Table Initiative (NESTI). Free and open to the public, the tasting event will provide the community with an opportunity to sample new varieties being bred by Johnny's, grown locally, and prepared by some of Maine's premier chefs.… Read more

Culinary Breeding Network Founder Lane Selman Visits Johnny's
"I was excited the breeders at Johnny's reached out to me to help brainstorm how they could develop a network of farmers, chefs, and consumers similar to the Culinary Breeding Network. The Johnny's team sees the benefit in including a wider range of stakeholders in the breeding conversation, as it will allow them to create more relevant and desirable varieties for both farmers and eaters. I believe the more these stakeholders understand and feel engaged in the breeding process, the stronger and more resilient our food system will become."
–Lane Selman, Founder & Director of the Culinary Breeding Network in Portland, Oregon

Opening the Door Behind the Farm to Connect Consumers with Breeders & Growers

Albion, Maine : December 7, 2016 — Johnny's Selected Seeds hosted Lane Selman, Founder & Director of the Culinary Breeding Network in Portland, Oregon, as guest speaker at its Research Farm in Albion, Maine. Selman's visit was well-timed, following Johnny's first Seed-to-Table Variety Tasting in September. Present at the day-long series of presentations, culinary tastings, and discussions were employee-owners of Johnny's, along with local chefs and farmers, as Selman inspired the group with her story about how the Culinary Breeding Network developed in the Pacific Northwest. Many models exist for involving farmers in the breeding process, such as gathering farmer input to set breeding goals, variety trials, and participatory plant breeding, but fewer models for involving chefs in that process. There is a vibrant farm-to-table scene in the Northeast, but the plant breeding side is underrepresented. As plant breeding supplies growers with improved cultivars for flavor, resiliency, sustainability, and yield, the Culinary Breeding Network's partnerships align well with Johnny's 40-year history of breeding and trialing with the input of organic growers and researchers across the US… Read more

Johnny's Selected Seeds & Unity Food Hub to Host
First Annual Seed-to-Table Variety Tasting
1st Annual Seed-to-Table Variety Tasting
Join Us at the Schoolhouse for the 1st Annual Seed-to-Table Variety Tasting
"We are excited to be furthering our partnership with Johnny's by working to create a network of breeders, farmers, eaters, and cooks, contributing to and benefiting from the plant breeding resources we have in-state, to expand farmers' crop diversity in the marketplace. Here at Unity Food Hub, many of the varieties Johnny's develops and selects are ones we crop-plan with farms, to incorporate into our product offerings to customers that we distribute throughout Northern New England. This event represents a burgeoning community of resources that can further Maine's position as a farming leader in the US. We are excited to invite the public to partake."
–Colleen Hanlon–Smith, Operations Manager for Unity Food Hub and event partner

Unity, Maine : September 19, 2016 — Unity Food Hub (UFH) is partnering with Johnny's Selected Seeds to unite classical plant breeders, farmers, chefs, and farming and culinary enthusiasts at the First Annual Seed-to-Table Variety Tasting on Sunday, September 25th. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the journey from seed to table and the work of local food network members. "We hope this event will engage the community in the variety selection process, and increase the understanding of how varieties are developed and where our food comes from," notes Joy Longfellow, product technician at Johnny's and one of the primary event coordinators.

The event is also a fundraiser — all proceeds will go to Maine Farmland Trust for the Maine Harvest Bucks Program, which makes local food from Unity Food Hub's Maine Farm Share program affordable to low-income Mainers.

Prospective participants include farmers and chefs who are interested the learning more about new vegetable varieties and opportunities to participate in the variety development process, and anyone interested in learning more about variety selection and development, with an interest in local food systems — or who simply enjoys eating vegetables. Attendees will have opportunities to talk with Johnny's classical plant breeders, local chefs, and farmers, and to taste different vegetables varieties, hear the stories behind the varieties, and see some different ways of preparing them… Read more

Janika Eckert Receives 2016 All-America Selections Breeders Cup
"It goes beyond meeting market demand — one has to be bold enough to adventure beyond the known into one's vision of what is possible — to dream up new products and then have the tenacity and know-how to make those products become reality. Working for a company that believes in innovation and continual improvement is necessary."
–Janika Eckert, Johnny's Plant Breeder

For Classical Plant Breeder at Johnny's, Patience Has Its Reward

Madison, Wisconsin : August 27, 2016 — Johnny's Plant Breeder Janika Eckert was awarded the All-America Selections (AAS) Breeder's Cup at the annual summit held in Madison. Eckert has produced four AAS-winning varieties: 'Diva' spineless sweet cucumber, in 2002; 'Carmen,' an early sweet red Italian pepper, in 2006; 'Escamillo,' an early sweet golden Italian pepper, in 2016; and 'Cornito Giallo,' a half-size sweet golden Italian pepper, in 2016.

Curious as to why so many award-winning vegetable varieties come from the fields of this small, but thriving seed company in Central, Maine, we were recently given the rare chance to peel the onion, so to speak, on breeding at Johnny's in an interview with Eckert… Read more

Johnny's Welcomes Student Organic Seed Symposium
"Her five magic words — coherence, expression, reciprocity, service, and joy — made me think about Johnny's mission, how we are ultimately striving to serve and strengthen communities…. Dr. Rabinowicz's [Director of the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security] service-minded view of seed work is what strikes me as truly important."
–Lindsay Wyatt, Johnny's Plant Breeder

The Youthful & the Venerated Convene & Connect to Advance Global Sustainability

Waterville, Maine : August 5–8, 2016 — Johnny's Selected Seeds greeted the fifth annual Student Organic Seed Symposium (SOSS) with a full-day tour of its research farm and facilities in Albion and Winslow. From their base at Colby College, a group of 50 students and global leaders in organic plant breeding systems attended an intensive, four-day series of lectures, panel discussions, and field trips crisscrossing rural Central and Down East Maine.

"Johnny's was happy to help host the SOSS conference in Maine this August," said company Chairman and Founder, Rob Johnston, Jr. "SOSS, the Student Organic Seed Symposium, is a great example of a good idea: a conference of graduate students in organic plant breeding, their professors, and industry people like me. And, it is remarkably put together each year by the students themselves. The conferees, especially the students, are a vital part of building a healthier food system…." Read more

Johnny's Corno di Toro Peppers Rule
with AAS-Winning Qualities
"In the French opera, gypsy Carmen falls in love with bull-fighter Escamillo. We introduced the bull's horn pepper Carmen in 2004 after years of hand-crosses in the pepper breeding nursery. Carmen quickly became a customer and staff favorite. Work soon began on finding a yellow companion."
—Janika Eckert, Award-winning Plant Breeder

Albion, Maine : November 2015 — Johnny's has done it again — receiving two All-American Selections National Awards in recognition of its newest Corno di Toro pepper varieties. In addition to being chosen for their outstanding flavor and rich coloration, Johnny's AAS-winning peppers are easy to grow under a wide range of conditions, mature early, and express a compact, upright growth habit, or "plant architecture" that keeps the fruits healthy and up off the ground.

Corno di Toro, or "bulls-horn" peppers, have become an important class for market growers, in large part thanks to 'Carmen.' According to Emily Haga, plant breeder for Johnny's, " 'Carmen' is a sweet, red Italian frying pepper bred by Johnny's that has an almost cult-like following among pepper growers and lovers. Everywhere I go, people grow this 2006 AAS award-winner and love its dependability and flavor. This year, Johnny's Selected Seeds is expanding its selection in this important category, with AAS Winners 'Escamillo,' and 'Cornito Giallo'…." Read more

Johnny's Welcomes Sustainable Agriculturist Eero Ruuttila as R&D Station Manager
"A good farmer should be able to walk into a field and see the present, the past, and the future."

Albion, Maine : October 2015 — Eero Ruuttila, pioneering sustainable agriculturist, has recently joined Johnny's Selected Seeds in the role of Research Station Manager. Ruuttila comes to Johnny's as a 35-year champion of organic farming, accomplished both as practitioner and advocate. With his in-depth understanding of organic farming practices, plant nutrition requirements, water and soil management, pest and disease control, and farm labor management, Ruuttila is a natural fit for the robust seed company with a 40+-year legacy at the vanguard of sustainable agriculture. In coming to Johnny's, he states, "I hope to refine Johnny's tradition of building soil quality to support the long-term health of its fields, advancing the mission to produce healthy seed that ultimately nourishes the families, friends, and communities that Johnny's serves…."

In recognition of Ruuttila's contributions to the advancement of sustainable agriculture, he has received a multiplicity of awards, including the 1998 New Hampshire Farm of Distinction; 1999 Hillsboro County Soil & Conservation District Cooperator of the Year; 2002 Saveur 100 Farm that Nourishes the Community; and the 2004 Andrew L. Felker Award for distinguished achievement in the economic advancement of agriculture in New Hampshire…. Read more

Johnny's Hosts Tomato Growers' Roundtable : Discussion Underscores Matters of Earliness, Disease Resistance, Fertility, & Grafting
"Hearing this type of feedback directly from growers is invaluable to seed companies such as Johnny's, providing key insight into market needs. Not only is Johnny's honored to play a part in bringing growers together, but the guidance the research team received today will inform the direction the grafted plant selection will take in future…"
— Pete Zuck, Tomato Product Manager

Albion, Maine : July 2015 — Johnny's Selected Seeds recently hosted the 2015 Tomato Growers' Roundtable, where a consortium of growers and scientists met to discuss the challenges and opportunities of growing tomato in the New England region. Organized by Maine's primary organic certifying agent, the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (MOFGA), the roundtable serves as a conduit for small- to medium-scale commercial growers to listen and collaborate on topics ranging from thinning and pruning and planting density to disease and fertility.

The meeting was moderated by MOFGA's organic crop specialist, Eric Sideman, PhD, and Becky Sideman, PhD, Extension Professor and Sustainable Horticultural Production Specialist at the University of New Hampshire. Trials performed at Johnny's research farm in Albion, Maine, as well as those conducted across New England and the rest of the country, provide variety and cultural information to growers of all sizes. Several members of Johnny's research staff were present to listen and contribute to the discussion…. Read more

'Butterscotch' Butternut Squash Chosen National 2015 All-America Selections Winner
"...[A] true stand-alone among the butternuts — it is just sweeter and better tasting than anything else we've tried.…"
— Pete Zuck, Johnny's Product Manager for Squash

Albion, Maine : November 2014 — The All America Selections Committee has chosen 'Butterscotch,' the newest butternut variety developed by Johnny's traditional breeding team, as a 2015 National AAS Vegetable Winner…

...Butterscotch is the eighth AAS Winner chosen from more than 50 new vegetable varieties introduced by the powerhouse team over the years. [Rob] Johnston's lifelong contribution to the world of horticulture was underscored by his being awarded the prestigious Breeders Cup at the 2013 All-America Selection Summit.… Read more

Dr. John Navazio, Plant Breeder, Agroecologist, Author, & Organic Seed Production Specialist Joins Breeding Research Team at Johnny's
"Rob has always been avidly interested in what the very most progressive, most innovative direct-market growers are striving for…"

Albion, Maine : October 2, 2014 — Johnny's Selected Seeds warmly welcomes Dr. John Navazio, veteran plant breeder, agroecologist, author, and organic seed production specialist as manager of its plant breeding program. Dr. Navazio is a natural fit for Johnny's, renowned for its prodigious introduction of traditionally bred, award-winning new crop varieties to direct-market growers and avid home gardeners….

With a career path that clearly aligns with Johnny's long-term breeding goals, Dr. Navazio sees "an incredible opportunity in taking on the landmark traditional breeding work led for over four decades by Rob Johnston," Johnny's founder and CEO. "Some of North America's most important crop germplasm is being housed and developed right here in Central Maine.…" Read more

Johnny's Offers Kalettes® Seed to Small Commercial Growers Across the US & Canada
Available to commercial growers and avid home gardeners in the US and Canada — Exclusively from Johnny's Selected Seeds

Fairfield, Maine : September 2014 — Lauded by foodies as the "new kale," Kalettes® are the striking result of a non-GMO cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. Johnny's Selected Seeds is pleased to introduce the new Kalettes seed this fall to direct-to-market commercial growers and avid home gardeners across the US and Canada, under an exclusive partnership with Tozer Seeds…. Read more

Rob L Johnston, Jr Receives All-America Selections 2013 Breeders Cup Award

Burlington, Ontario, CANADA : August 2013 ll-America Selections (AAS) hosted their annual Summer Summit August 12–14 this year in Ontario, Canada. Rob L Johnston, Jr, Founder and Chairman of Johnny's Selected Seeds, was selected by the AAS Board of Directors to receive the 2013 Breeders Cup. The AAS Breeders Cup Award recognizes someone who has had a significant impact in horticulture by breeding stand-out varieties.

Rob's contribution to the world of horticulture includes helping produce varieties that in diverse climates have outstanding flavor, disease resistance, and garden performance. Under Rob's leadership, the Johnny's breeding team has introduced more than 50 varieties. Seven of these Johnny's-bred varieties have been honored with the prestigious All-America Selections award…. Read more

Johnny's Receives Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce 2012 Customer Service Stardom Award

Fairfield, Maine : April 12, 2013 — For 50 years, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce has bestowed awards on distinguished area businesses and business people at their Annual Awards Dinner. We're pleased to announce that Michelle Lepage, Johnny's Selected Seeds' Customer Experience Manager, is the 2012 recipient of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce Customer Service Stardom Award… Read more

Johnny's Introduces SALANOVA® — The Newest Innovation in Salad Mix

The Ultimate Efficiency Lettuce

Fairfield, Maine: April 2013 Salanova is the newest innovation in lettuce for the salad mix market. Taking over 20 years for breeders to develop, Salanova's unique core structure allows fully mature, compact heads to be easily cut into individual uniform leaves. Because the heads are allowed to reach full size, they produce fully-developed flavor, texture, and color compared to baby leaf. For the first time, this line is available from Johnny's Selected Seeds to U.S. and Canada small, direct-market growers.

Praised for its versatility, efficiency, and yield, Salanova offers many benefits for the grower. Salanova provides high yields at lower-cost… Read more

Johnny's Selected Seeds Commemorates 40th Anniversary

Fairfield, Maine : February 27, 2013 — For 40 years Johnny's Selected Seeds has been dedicated to helping families, friends, and communities to feed one another by providing quality seeds, tools, information, and service. Founder and Chairman, Rob Johnston Jr., proudly states, "We will continue to work, today and into the future, as a community with you, your family, and your  customers and friends. When the boundaries between all of us get blurred, that's when it's best." After all this time, Johnny's continues to be challenged and honored by the support of its customers… Read more