“I can’t re­mem­ber a time when I wasn’t work­ing with seeds.”

Country Gardens - - Generations In The Garden - — Petra Page-mann

Like other ad­ven­tur­ous young folks, Petra left the nest to learn. Work­ing on wilder­ness trails in Colorado—“and eat­ing the most pro­cessed food on the planet”—brought home the im­por­tance of fresh, fla­vor­ful sus­te­nance. The next stint was a decade of liv­ing and learn­ing on or­ganic farms, build­ing her skills. By the time she met and fell in love with agron­o­mist Matthew Gold­farb, the dream of a seed farm was ripe for ful­fill­ment. When friends in Naples heard that Petra and Matthew were re­turn­ing home to farm, of­fers of land be­gan flood­ing in. The sea­son af­ter the pair leased 2 acres in 2013, their fer­tile fields be­gan to go to seed—on pur­pose.

The base farm was just the start. Un­like most seed-sell­ing busi­nesses, Fruition pro­duces 60 per­cent of its seeds, sourc­ing the rest from fel­low or­ganic, non-gmo grow­ers through­out the North­east. To en­sure that Fruition sells open-pol­li­nated seeds that are true to name and to en­sure that flow­ers do not cross-pol­li­nate with dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties, Petra and Matthew grow their own on 24 acres leased in­side a 10-mile ra­dius. They in­tro­duced their own Au­tumn Am­brosia wa­ter­melon, and they of­fer PMR De­li­cious 51

can­taloupe de­vel­oped at nearby Cor­nell Univer­sity, both of which ma­ture in their short sum­mers. They also of­fer Ap­ple­green egg­plant and North­ern Hardy Va­len­cia peanuts that will ma­ture in their cli­mate. And that search for let­tuce that won’t bolt in the in­evitable heat wave? For north­ern cli­mates, loose-leaf Gen­tilina and Flashy Trout­back ro­maine are the an­swer to a salad lover’s prayer.

Petra spends her days mon­i­tor­ing fields and culling plants. “If you’re a pep­per and you haven’t pro­duced at least two very tasty fruit by late July, you’re out,” she says. “Those seeds won’t be saved.” By con­tin­u­ally se­lect­ing the best of the best, the plants gain qual­i­ties such as dis­ease re­sis­tance and other de­sir­able veg­etable traits—in­clud­ing tasti­ness and at­trac­tive­ness. The re­sult is more than 300 va­ri­eties of scrump­tious ed­i­bles for the North­east and sim­i­lar cli­mates.

Fruition Seeds doesn’t stop with the seed stage. To in­spire fel­low gar­den­ers and fur­nish the tools for re­gional abun­dance, the own­ers are ac­tive on so­cial me­dia chan­nels, pro­duc­ing online tu­to­ri­als as well as an online gar­den club called Flour­ish (which Petra de­scribes as “a deep dive into or­ganic gar­den­ing with a live ques­tion-and-an­swer facet”). Petra has even been known to share her recipes, bring­ing her seeds to their best con­clu­sion.

Ap­ple­green egg­plant is an heir­loom with the unique color of a Granny Smith ap­ple, with quick ma­tu­rity, creamy flesh, and greater den­sity than most egg­plants—mak­ing it great for grilling.

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