Story and photos by Matt Kelly
There are plenty of great reasons to be into local food: economic, environmental, political. But there’s one that trumps them all: Taste.
This is why so many of us grow our own. Backyard, front yard, pots and window boxes: it doesn’t matter where you grow. There’s just no beating fresh-picked taste.
But the question is: how local are your seeds? Do you get them from, say, a seed farm right here in the Finger Lakes? Fruition Seeds is one such farm.
Located just outside of Naples, co-owners and co-farmers Petra Page-Mann and Matthew Goldfarb are producing vegetable, herb and flower seeds of all sorts. The seeds are organically grown, open-pollinated and regionally adapted.
So what do all these fancy words mean for the average grower? Petra and Matthew harvest seed only from plants that have shown inherent vigor and the ability to excel in Northeastern growing conditions without the crutch of heavy chemical inputs. These seeds come from plants that reproduce through the natural exchange of pollen, resulting in stable genetics and reliable characteristics from one generation to the next. Which is especially important if you want to harvest and save your own seed.
But what makes Fruition Seeds truly unique is that more than half the varieties are grown by Petra and Matthew in their very own fields with their very own hands. These seeds are adapted to the quirks and nuances of our region, which means the average grower is far more likely to achieve success and abundance in the garden.
But don’t mistake “local seeds” for “native varieties.” Fruition Seeds offers all the standard garden favorites like bush beans, slicer cucumbers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, watermelon and zucchini. And this year, the farm will also be offering some more unique varieties like Jamaican Burr Gherkins, Glass Gem Corn and Valencia Peanuts.
In addition to what they grow themselves, Petra and Matthew offer seeds from other small farms in the Northeast: New York, Maine, Quebec and Vermont. In some cases, they partner closely with local market farmers to help improve and achieve specific traits in a crop: the farmer will take care of all the growing while Petra and Matthew manage the selection, harvesting and processing of the seed. The farmer ends up with improved seed for the following season; Fruition Seeds ends up with adapted seed for the home grower.
And just so you can make educated choices about the food you grow, the origin of every seed is listed on the Fruition Seeds website.
If starting from seed isn’t entirely your thing, the farm will have tomato, eggplant and pepper transplants available in the spring. Be sure to check out the Habanada pepper: a habañero with no heat but all the flavor. That’s right, folks: Sweet, tropical habañero goodness grown right here in Western New York.
With each variety, Petra and Matthew select for specific characteristics to promote abundant production in the Northeast: disease resistance, cold-hardiness, short growing season. But there’s one trait that Petra and Matthew are unequivocally committed to in all the vegetables and herbs they take to seed: Taste.
Because if the food you’re growing doesn’t taste good, what’s the point?
7920 Hickory Bottom Road, Naples, 585.300.0699, fruitionseeds.com
Matt Kelly is a writer living in the Finger Lakes, slowly turning his home into a self-sufficient, food-independent, backwoods place of his own. He writes regularly at BoonieAdjacent.com.