Twin Oaks Seed Farm grows open-pollinated and heirloom vegetable seeds on six acres of certified organic land. We are active participants in the movement to improve the quality and availability of regionally-adapted open-pollinated seeds.

We are forming a seed growing cooperativeCommon Wealth Seed Growers is a new collaboration between Twin Oaks Seed Farm and our neighbors Living Energy Farm and All-Farm Organics. We are direct marketing about 15 varieties this year through our website and at the Virginia Association for Biological Farming conference. And planning what to grow and what to offer next year!

Twin Oaks Seed Farm started with a 3/4 acre seed garden in 2006 and has grown to six acres with a crew of eight people. We grow about 40 varieties each year in four separate gardens (to maintain necessary isolation distances). Crops include cucumbers, winter and summer squash, watermelon, muskmelon, southern peas, lima beans, okra, perennial onions, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, ground cherries, corn, sunflowers, cosmos, arugula, turnips, rutabaga and collards.

Contact:

Edmund Frost
138 Twin Oaks Rd. Louisa, VA 23093
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We produce seeds for several small retail seed companies, including Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Sow True Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Fedco Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange. We also grow butternut squash for Local Food Hub in Charlottesville.

Photos

Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin. Lyndsey harvesting.

Twin Oaks Community Seeds grows heirloom and open-pollinated seeds mainly for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (run by our sister community Acorn), as well as for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri and Fedco Seeds in Maine.

Variety Trials

2014 Trials: We got the SARE Grant! In 2014 we will be doing extensive cucumber, melon and winter squash trials, funded by a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant. The trials will focus on evaluating Downy Mildew resistance and Striped Cucumber Beetle resistance in these crops, as well as taste, sweetness and productivity. A farmer survey about cucurbit seed needs is also part of the project. We're also planning a sweet corn trial, a sweet pepper trial, a watermelon trial and a summer lettuce trial.

2013 Trials: In 2013 we trialed 36 cucumber varieties and 38 muskmelons, with help and funding from Sow True Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Organic Seed Alliance. We planted late to expose plants to heavy Downy Mildew pressure. It was a terrible year for Downy Mildew, and a great year to do trials. Results are below.

Trial results documents:
Cucumber Trial Report
Melon Trial Report
VABF 2014 Presentation

Internships

Internships:
We are seeking interns for the 2014 growing season. This is a great opportunity to learn about growing and processing all kinds of vegetable seeds, and about variety trialing. We will consider interns for any time from May-October; but August, September and October are our busiest times, and thats when we're doing the most seed harvest and processing. Minimum length of stay is three weeks. Interns will be provided with meals, housing, and a small stipend for longer stays. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you're interested.

Growing Practices & More

Growing Practices: We are Certified Organic by QCS. We maintain good fertility with cover crops (oats, radish, red and crimson clover, rye, vetch, cowpeas, sorghum-sudan) and waste from the Twin Oaks tofu business (okara). We rely on hoeing, wheel hoeing, hand weeding, and a Farmall Super C cultivating tractor to control weeds. We are implementing various reduced tillage strategies including knock-down rye/vetch and intercropping with clover.

Selection: We have grown a lot of varieties since we started this work, and with our trials projects that number is growing fast. We have clearly seen that variety and seedstock choice makes a dramatic difference in the success or failure of crops. We want to be on the front lines of identifying the varieties that work well for Virginia and the surrounding region. We want to put our energy into producing seed for these varieties, and into selection for even better regional adaptation, productivity, taste, disease resistance and appearance. This is possible because we work with open-pollinated varieties. With hybrids what you get is what you get, but OPs can be adapted and improved. They can also deteriorate quickly without proper attention, thought and observation.

Some of our favorite varieties, most of which we have been growing and selecting for several years: Suyo Long cucumber, Ashley cucumber, Tennessee Red Cob corn, Edisto 47 melon, Early Moonbeam watermelon, Golden Bush Scallop, Burpee’s Butterbush, Seminole Pumpkin, Striped Green Cushaw, Amish Moon and Stars watermelon, Carolina Wonder pepper, Barnes Mountain Orange tomato, Cherokee Purple tomato, Shronces Deep Black peanut. Our seeds of these varieties are available through Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Also Crown Pumpkin and Japanese Pie Pumpkin through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Breeding: We are working on development of Downy Mildew resistant butternut squash, melons, cucumbers, summer squash and more! And Vine Borer resistant summer squash.

Living Energy Farm is Twin Oaks’ new sister community in Louisa County. They have a seed growing business too, and we tend to work closely together.