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Fedco: Agriculture for a Future

In the 1970s, the Maine Federation of Cooperatives distributed food to members at low prices; in 1978 they added a seed project. Today Fedco is focused entirely on farm and garden. Organized still as a coop, with no retail store and no frills, they selll now to everyone. If people order as a group, they can get price discounts for volume while their purchases are packed individually.

Early in the year, Fedco Seeds offers untreated seed for vegetables, herbs and flowers — including many varieties certified organic, and many grown in the same conditions as those certified, on farms too small for certification.

Concurrently, Fedco’s Moose Tubers sells certified seed potatoes, onion sets, shallots and sunchokes. To qualify for a discount, tuber orders must arrive at Fedco by February 25. This Fedco division also includes Organic Growers Supply, which provides cover crops, soil amendments, pest controls, tools and equipment, books, beneficial insects, garden clothing — and more.

In June, Fedco Bulbs puts out their catalog for fall-planted bulbs, including amaryllis and Maine-grown seed garlic. Order deadlines come in August; plants are shipped starting late September.

In October, Fedco Trees makes available their catalog of hardy fruit and nut trees, berries, grapes, ornamental shrubs and trees, perennials and non-fall bulbs. This discount order deadline falls in December.

Each division has a date once a year when you can pickup orders at the warehouse in Clinton, Maine, avoiding shipping charges. In addition the OGS is open every Wednesday — they’re also the only part of Fedco you can order from all year. Shipped orders go by UPS or Priority Mail — with no shipping charges on seeds.

Fedco promotes seed exchanges and seed banks, conducts seed trials for regional specialties and heirloom varieties, makes grants to support sustainable agriculture, provides technical assistance to seed growers, and offers educational programs for schools. They sell many hard-to-find items, and pledge not to knowingly carry genetically engineered seeds.

I know two Fedco customers who will coordinate group orders. Maxine McDonald, in Townsend (978.597.6326): for the current order — seeds, tubers and supplies — she has several catalogs to distribute. Dwight Sipler, of Small Farm in Stow (978.897.5996) has three extra catalogs left. You can also download catalogs from the Fedco site at <>. (But you probably don’t want to print them; the seed section alone runs 93 pages.)

Both these coordinators need to receive orders by February 2, with checks made out to the coordinator. Save your catalog for seed information, because the seed packets are plain envelopes identifying the seed, but that’s all.

© Copyright 2005 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 14 January 2005

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For more information
  • Fedco's site - with lots of information and catalogs to download, that have even more information.
  • Small Farm in Stowe, MA, where Dwight Sipler orders from Fedco.