During the past years we have seen demand for organic vegetables increase in several countries and this trend continues. At Bejo, we have been active in organic already for over 25 years, we continuously learn from it and explore ways and techniques to improve. Organic is close to our heart, it fascinate us, it resonates with our belief that exploring nature never stops. It is why we continue to invest in it, why we learn from it and why we share knowledge. In ’21 we published the Bejo Organic Magazine, and since then regularly publish stories from partners or events around the world. This story is an interview with Chief Executive Officer Andrea Tursini from High Mowing Organic Seeds in USA.
About High Mowing Organic Seeds
High Mowing Organic Seeds is a leading organic seed company in USA. It was founded by Tom Stearns in 1996 who started with just 28 varieties, many of which originated from his own backyard. Today High Mowing offers, across USA, over 700 organic seed varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs, homegrown or sourced from organic seed farmers. The philosophy of the company is still unchanged: to contribute to the development of agricultural food systems that supports health on all levels: healthy environments, healthy economies, healthy communities and healthy bodies.
Organic on the rise
While High Mowing started small it now has a team of 65 people working to advise growers and provide them with the most suitable organic seeds for their needs. Their assortment is extensive, and demand is high. As with many other companies, High Mowing has realized a shift towards e-commerce during the past years, today comprising 80% of their revenue. Andrea says: “2019 has been a crazy year in particular. During the covid lock downs people started to grow their own vegetables, as way to spend their free time but also in general people feel the need for more healthy preferably organic food and more control over their food. We could not supply all orders and had to close down our web shop for two full weeks in order to catch up on our back log. Still today demand for our products is 60% higher than before covid”.
We are not breeding ourselves anymore, but choose to source from breeding partners, who are specialised in this field. We can share expertise and learn from each other on organic cultivation
Investing to improve customer service
High Mowing has recently invested in a new temperature controlled storage room, with much higher storage capacity. Also distribution capacity needed to step up to be able to fulfill orders. And there’s been lots of attention to technological improvement and improvement of user experience of the web shop. Andrea says: “In general 60% of our customer base are professional farmers and 40% are consumers, comprising in total 70.000 customers. Our focus is on the professional farmer. We encourage trialing of new varieties and give advice. But we are really happy to serve consumers as well. We have our organization in place to do so”. Growers can keep themselves informed through the High Mowing blog, newsletter and via social media. The printed catalogue is also still in place. It presents the assortment, and includes articles featuring people who explain about their agricultural models or particular topics that are current and related to farming.
Challenges and opportunities
A big challenge for organic in USA is difficulties in legislation. Many policies are in the form of interpreted guidelines and there are too many loopholes in the regulation. It is really necessary to have clarity on standards. A positive development is the growing awareness by the consumer for personal health and care for nature. “The constant development in assortment and new varieties is great. We are not breeding ourselves anymore, but choose to source from breeding partners, who are specialised in this field. We can share expertise and learn from each other on organic cultivation”.
Bejo works with High Mowing to identify trends in the farm market category and test new varieties that best meet the needs of organic growers. We continue to find many fruitful opportunities, offering robust outdoor vegetable varieties in a range of categories from onion to cabbage, carrot, and beet.