Ingenuity + Inspiration
Through a year of challenge & change
From extreme weather conditions to a life-changing pandemic, you have persevered in your passion to grow healthy food, for your family and your community. Farming has always been tough going, but this year we have heard remarkable stories of growers adapting and succeeding despite these challenges. We invite you to meet a few kindred spirits from our growing community.
Specialized & Hard-to-Source Varieties
“ I've been a farmer-florist for 30 years. All my friends were doing vegetables, so I decided, 'I'm going to do cut flowers.' I come back to Johnny's for varieties I can't get anywhere else.
“ The flowers sell themselves — they do that on their own. We focus on relationships with our customers, their families, and have grown a diverse fanbase. When our business was affected by the shutdown, we started Petals Off Our Porch, where you buy online and swing by for pickup. People were stuck at home, stressed out, and wanted something beautiful in their home. It took off like wildfire! Our customer relationships and community support made it possible.
“ We use flowers for every major event in our lives — that's the way we express our care for people. I was farming during 911. Everything shut down for a week — that was my training run for this year. No matter what, people are still going to buy flowers — life moves on. I knew that all we had to do was keep growing. ”
Organic Seed Availability
“ I grow over 400 different varieties of organic vegetables, and Johnny's has everything I need. I know I can always call Johnny's for any emergency plantings when things come up.
“ The thing I love about Johnny's is that I never have to question the quality of seeds I order: I know that if I plant Johnny's seeds in my fields, then they will always grow, and my customers will love eating the food. ”
“ Hands down, quality is why we come back to Johnny's. We've shopped around and tried some of the same varieties from other catalogs, and the germination rates are lower every time. We appreciate the care and quality Johnny's takes to produce highly viable seed for customers.
“ We love growing brassicas of all types; it's probably our favorite section in the catalog. 'Tiara' cabbage is one of our treasured early-season cabbages, with the earliest broccoli making a great compact companion to this mini cabbage. The beauty of 'Tiara' is how early it crops for us here in Minnesota — cabbages in May!
“ Gardening is life, quite literally. It feeds us on every level. It is so much more than just a meal on the table. We derive joy and gain knowledge. We renew our spirits and are awed by nature's abundance and resilience. It's a way of being for us, and a huge part of our family values. We feel so blessed to be able to grow so much of our own food, feeding our family of four, neighbors, friends, and donating produce to local communities. ”
Regional Expertise & Detailed Growing Information
“ We've been through our share of emergencies and disasters, including floods and hurricanes. We put our heads together and went into emergency mode again in early March. We had to cancel our annual Farm Day event, which was just days away. We typically have 400 people attend. We had done CSA boxes before, so we were able to swivel back to that pretty easily. We rode with it and adapted our offerings to round out the boxes from week to week. Demand increased quickly and we moved a lot of food. We applied for grants to ease our losses with flower sales. We started a drive-thru CSA pick-up, which worked out well. We have long enjoyed the support of our community. This spring we saw demand like never before. Everyone was looking for vegetables!
“ Our sales representative, Blake, has contributed to our success through trials of varieties with disease resistance specific to our humid subtropical climate. It varies, but this year we are trialing heirloom tomatoes, cauliflower, squash, beans, and cucumbers during our three growing seasons. We are also trialing cherry tomatoes with Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus resistance this year. These varieties could have a huge impact on our production!
“ We have way more fungal issues here, due to high humidity. Prospera® basil has enabled us to grow Italian basil throughout both warm seasons without huge downy mildew pressure. This has been huge for us, and yields have been impressive.
“ In the summer, we give our soil a break and plant cover crops. It is also a time for us to fix things that are broken, complete jobs that we never got done during the busyness of the season, and work at making everything we do a little bit better.
“ From the beginning, the catalog has been really helpful with detailed growing information, the charts… everything. We also refer to your online growing resources, but when we were starting out, we just read the catalog from cover to cover. ”
“ We had a lot of free time and energy this spring to expand our small garden farm. A friend recommended ordering from Johnny's, and I'm so glad we did. We plan on being customers for life.
“ We ordered strawberry slips a little late this spring, as they were really hard to come by, so we were not expecting them to be very successful. To say we were pleasantly surprised is an understatement — all 75 of those slips rooted — and were still looking fantastic in mid fall!
“ One of my favorite things about Johnny's is the care they show for their employees, customers, and products. We are 'brandist': our desire is to support brands that are transparent, follow best practices, and offer products we can rely on. These traits were apparent from our first experience with Johnny's. Thank you for your exceptional values.
“ Gardening is a sanctuary. When the world around you feels like a maze and completely out of your control, step back into your garden. You may not always successfully produce the most amazing harvest or win the battle against the insects, but you can just be. Enjoy the cycle of nature in your own backyard. Toil alongside your family and laugh despite the setbacks. Be overly enthusiastic about the wins. Count yourself among the lucky every time you get to be out with the sunrise and still at sunset. What does gardening mean to me? It means that I am lucky enough to enjoy an amazing journey with my family and friends. ”
Trialing Partnership & Leading-Edge Varieties
“ Pre-Covid-19, at least 50% of our business involved selling to restaurants. We thought, 'What are we going to do with it all?' We increased our CSA a bit and increased our wholesale relationships. Then Aaron had an idea for starting a new project — 'We Give a Share.' The community buys shares, with the money going to farmers who send food to kitchens where it is cooked into really nutritious meals. Currently there are about eight farms involved. At first it was an emergency response, but it has become an enduring effort. With so much money raised, it has become bigger than us.
“ The weather, too, has been really challenging this year. Our growing season started cold, then became dry, and we have since had ridiculous amounts of rain. The fact that we have not been impacted by downy mildew is amazing. This was the first time in 12 years we've had a successful basil crop. 'Prospera® DMR' and Rutgers 'Devotion DMR' have not shown signs of disease, even after so much rain! ”
“ Johnny's is my most reliable source for purchasing seeds and my main supplier by far. I rely on and trust the quality and innovation that the folks at Johnny's have maintained consistently throughout the years.
“ The quick and responsive service has also made a difference on our farm. I know that I can always call customer service whenever I have a question.
“ Salanova® has been a game-changer. It has become integral to our system since we started growing it two years ago. It solved the issue of bad germination and weeds with cut salad mix, and we build our crop plan around it. We can now grow one-cut lettuce in a way that is easy and doable!
“ I've been thinking a lot about food access and food sovereignty, with the influx of folks wanting to grow food. We need to support our local growers — it's so important. I think communities are more appreciative of what it takes to grow food. I'm setting up a way to donate produce to BIPOC communities, and we're also brainstorming ideas for how to open up a little grocery store nearby. ”
Varieties That Keep It Interesting
“ We love your varieties, all the melons, peppers, brassicas, and unusual greens. We've tried a lot of things over the years. You've got to keep your CSA offerings interesting.
“ We also have a great relationship with Paul, our sales representative, and enjoy sitting down with him to discuss the best varieties for our situation. He's so knowledgeable, open, and friendly. ”
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