I have always been interested in seeds and their stories–the image of an immigrant woman hemming seeds into her skirt to bring a piece of home into some new, unknown life, has always intrigued me. Seeds are a place and a product and a memory; they offer us a collective inheritance in the form of a tiny and simple time capsule.
Mayan farmers in Guatemala taught me to be a seed saver. Shortly after college, I went to Guatemala to start a gardening project with widows of Guatemala’s civil war.
But I was faced with a huge barrier: Seed. Guatemala is the center of origin of many seeds we love today like corn, beans, squash, avocado, chile, and cacao, but thousands of those varieties have disappeared, and many continue to be in danger.
Organizing groups of women after the brutal civil war was next to impossible. People weren’t interested in starting gardens, they were afraid to come to meetings. But when the topic of seed was brought up, something changed, a spark flew, friendships were made. Often a seed was brought out of a dusty jar, or an old handkerchief. And a story always followed. Maybe the seed had been carried into the forest, or a cave, accompanying the family into years of hiding. Some families buried seed in jars before they ran and came back to find them years later.
Seeds connect us to our story, who we are, where we come from. Seeds connected me to the history of the Maya. Seeds connected me to many of the tribes here in New Mexico and Arizona. They brought me to a long forgotten and abandoned seed bank at Ghost Ranch, where we volunteered for the non-profit Cuatro Puertas, (Arid Crop Seed Catche) who took on the task of rescuing, categorizing, and planting out hundreds of lost and abandoned varieties.
Seeds connected me to my husband Jesse, a farmer, whose calm presence in the garden taught me the importance of selecting for taste, purity, and hardiness. He taught me how to plant the seed, care for it, watch it grow, eat it, and save the seed for another season.
Our neighbors have shared seeds from their homeland with me in little hand-marked envelopes: Sarita, Black Bean Nepal, Guam Chile.
Epic Seeds are a collection of seeds from my favorite people and places. Some are selected for their hardiness to dryland conditions. All are selected for superior taste and quality.
By planting Epic Seeds you are helping carry on the history of many people, their hopes and struggles. A good friend of mine in Guatemala once told me, “when you loose a seed, you loose a story”. Epic Seeds help these stories live on. Bring these seeds into your family and help them become part of your story. Join us on our journey.
I founded Amyo Farms in 2004. My grandfather helped me with the initial capital and my parents let me farm our family's land. I started with 1.6 acres just across the street from my childhood home in a field that I grew up playing in. Over the years the land had become degraded, hard-packed and barren. It was my dream, not only to turn it into a productive farm, but also to bring back the beauty and wildness that I remembered from my childhood.
Eleven years later, we have a beautiful garden with fertile soil, free ranging chickens foraging in a forest of native trees and a small orchard of apples, peaches, pears and plums.
I have added four more fields to the farm, two more in Bosque Farms, and two in Albuquerque's South Valley. None of our plots are over an acre. They all resemble large gardens more than traditional plots of row crops. Each has its own personality, strengths, weaknesses and beauty. We take great pride in caring for the land and all its inhabitants.
We don't use any chemical inputs or pesticides. Over the years we have put together a few varieties unique to our farm- a beautiful Orange Pimento Pepper that we saved seed from and grew out, a delicious Pink Tomato given to us by a neighbor. As we take our seed saving to the next level we are so excited to be able to share these seeds and their stories with you. People ask what the secret to growing such beautiful produce is and I tell them, "just compost and water," but it takes a lot of love too – and, if we're being candid, a little bit of sweat.
Epic Seeds was founded in 2014 by Sarah Montgomery of Garden’s Edge, and Jesse Daves of Amyo Farms in Albuquerque, New Mexico.