Thursday, September 29, 2011

Help Save D. Landreth Seed Company

Barbara Melera, owner and CEO

The oldest seed house in America (since 1784)

We're asking you to buy a catalog for $5 from the D. Landreth Seed Company in New Freedom, Pennsylvania.

If they can sell one million catalogs now they will be able to pay their creditors and continue in business.  

The current owners, Peter and Barbara Melera bought it 7 years ago when it was in bad shape and they have been able to turn a profit in the last 3 years.  Unfortunately, they had to borrow when they bought it and the loan has been called in.

To put it simply- these are good people with a small, historic business, selling important products during difficult times.

This business has muddled along for 227 years, but now, when we need heirloom seeds more than ever, they are on the verge of bankruptcy.  One of their creditors recently called in a loan for $250,000.

However, if they can sell a million catalogs now, they will be able to pay all their creditors and remain the fifth oldest continuously operating company in this country.  George Washington actually ordered seeds from them!

We know this is a departure from our usual articles, but we believe this is a good company, worth saving.  We strongly support the use of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds - the only kind D. Landreth sells.  These are seeds which have been passed from generation to generation.*

We do not support the overuse of hybrid seeds (sold by the large multi-national companies) and bioengineered (genetically modified) seeds.

Last week, NPR aired an interview by the host of Living on Earth, Bruce Gellerman with Barbara Melera, the owner.  If you take a few moments to read the transcript of A Seed Company With Deep Roots at the LOE website, you will understand why this is a good cause.

The owners have been forthright in explaining their situation, and if you have further questions after reading their press release below, contact Christin Tillett -

Press release from D. Landreth Seed Company

Why we are trying to sell 1 million catalogs.

To print and mail 1 million catalogues will cost approximately $3.5 million. We are selling these catalogues using pre-orders so that we do not incur any additional debt. We will manufacture only what we have sold. We have priced these catalogues at $5, which will cover the manufacturing and shipping costs as well as produce reasonable profit of $1.5 million dollars. Our aim was to keep the price low enough to be to affordable for the average person. This catalogue is made on good stock (high quality paper), is made locally in Pennsylvania - promoting small, local businesses and keeping jobs in America. The catalogue is a true collector's piece filled with agricultural history and art. It contains beautiful replicas of our original advertisements, descriptions of our products and, new this year, a background on how certain plants came to be (for example the history of the tomato, cucumber, eggplant, etc). 

How the $1.5 million dollar profit will be disbursed:

    $500,000 - taxes

    $250,000 - noteholder who initiated the garnishment notice

    $175,000 - second noteholder who will file suit if we do not settle concurrently with both noteholders

    $34,000 - interest (approximate)

    $540,000 - approximate remaining capital to be disbursed among other noteholders (family and friends who will not initiate suits); operating costs and lawyer fees

Why does this matter to me as a consumer?

Landreth Seeds is the oldest heirloom seed company in America and it a testament to the history and principles of our country. Although Landreth was in bad shape, Barb and Peter Melera recognized the historical and ethical importance of a company that supports local businesses, employs American citizens, and is GMO free when they took it over seven years ago. They diligently worked for 5 years to implement a new business model that allowed them to significantly reduce the debt they took on when they bought the company. The company is currently turning a profit.

We are immensely thankful for the support that we have received from friends, family and our loyal customers. We have been offered assistance in the form of pro-bono work, and have already raised nearly $48,000 in pre-order catalogue sales. We are asking consumers to help us maintain the tradition, integrity and history that Landreth represents by purchasing a catalogue, seeds, bulbs, gardening supplies etc. Our support has been great and the outpouring of love from the community for our products and our company have allowed us to hire three additional staff to handle the growth of our orders.

If you support anti- GMO, heirloom seeds, All-American small business, Landreth is the company you want to support.  We are more than willing to answer any and all questions and to be as transparent in our goals and needs. We still have a long way to go but appreciate the help and love of all who support us!

* A Few Reasons to Use Heirloom and Open-Pollinated Seeds

1.We need genetic diversity.  It is not good for human beings or any other living creatures to become dependent on a limited amount of hybrid seeds. 

One example of this problem is the Irish potato famine in the 1840s.  Farmers planted only a few species of potatoes from seeds that originally came from the Andes mountains.  Those seeds were not hardy enough to survive the climate in Ireland and, as a result, over two and a half million people either died or were forced to leave the country.  If there had been more diversity, the odds are there would have been far less damage.

2.  Heirloom seeds produce the exact same type of plant every year.  Hybrids are only the same once (built in obsolescence).  This supports their sale by the large seed companies because, as a consumer, you have to buy new ones every year.

3.  Heirloom seeds are hardier because they have withstood the test of time.  They are therefore more resistant to pests, diseases and weather extremes.

4.  Heirloom fruits and vegetables offer us a wider variety of nutrients.  This contributes to our ability to survive as a species.

5.  Hybrid seeds have been bred to yield fruit and vegetables that can withstand being transported long distances (to market).  This has compromised the taste, whereas heirloom seeds yield the full taste experience.

6.  Genetically modified corn has been found to cause organ damage in rats- the kidneys and livers (the detox organs).  Other organs were also adversely affected.  Organic Consumers Association

To purchase a catalog - click here

To make a contribution - click here

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