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The Organic Seed Grower

A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production

The Organic Seed Grower is a comprehensive manual for the serious vegetable grower who is interested in growing high-quality seeds using organic farming practices. It is written for both serious home seed savers and diversified small-scale farmers who want to learn the necessary steps involved in successfully producing a commercial seed crop organically.

Detailed profiles for each of the major vegetables provide users with practical, in-depth knowledge about growing, harvesting, and processing seed for a wide range of common and specialty vegetable crops, from Asian greens to zucchini.

In addition, readers will find extensive and critical information on topics including:

  • The reproductive biology of crop plants
  • Annual vs. biennial seed crops
  • Isolation distances needed to ensure varietal purity
  • Maintaining adequate population size for genetic integrity
  • Seed crop climates
  • Seed-borne diseases
  • Seed-cleaning basics
  • Seed storage for farmers
  • and more . . .

This book can serve as a bridge to lead skilled gardeners, who are already saving their own seed, into the idea of growing seed commercially. And for diversified vegetable farmers who are growing a seed crop for sale for the first time, it will provide details on many of the tricks of the trade that are used by professional seed growers. This manual will help the budding seed farmer to become more knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in producing a commercially viable seed crop.

With the strong demand for certified organic produce, many regional seed companies are increasingly seeking out dedicated seed growers to ensure a reliable source of organically grown seeds for their farmer and gardener customers. This trend represents a great business opportunity for small-scale commercial growers who wish to raise and sell vegetable seeds as a profitable part of their diversified small-farm operation. Written by well-known plant breeder and organic seed expert John Navazio, The Organic Seed Grower is the most up-to-date and useful guide to best practices in this exciting and important field.


“John Navazio has written a fantastic guide for organic seed breeders and producers. He has taken organic seed production to a higher level with extensive information on selection, genetic integrity, isolation distances, and seedborne diseases. Although his focus is on plant breeders and commercial growers, much of the information is also applicable to small-scale farms producing seed for on-site use.”--Suzanne Ashworth, Del Rio Botanical; author of Seed to Seed

“With The Organic Seed Grower, well-respected plant breeder and seed expert Dr. John Navazio has written "The definitive book on organic vegetable seed production. Encyclopedic, yet well written and approachable, this seminal work deserves a place in every grower’s library. From the organic farmer seeking a comprehensive reference, to the family farmer who wants to learn how to guarantee access to a favorite variety, to the progressive seed saver committed to success – all will find this book an indispensable guide and Navazio a trusted partner in organic seed improvement.”-- Jim Gerritsen, president, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA)

“John Navazio has made a keystone contribution to the future of the grassroots organic seed movement. The Organic Seed Grower is a fundamental resource for the preservation and improvement of agricultural biodiversity. It is an essential guide to high-quality, organic seed production: well grounded in fundamental principles, brimming with practical techniques, thorough in coverage, and remarkably well organized, accessible, and readable.”--Jeff McCormack, Ph.D., founder of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

“There is nothing more important right now than growing and saving seeds; that most essential aspect of life.  While we may have all done this once upon a time, we have mostly lost these skills to private industry or urbanization.  Until now.  John Navazio reveals all the techniques and tricks, some simple and some complex, that he’s learned only after decades of careful observation and practice.  Incredible photos help tell the story of life that seeds represent.  The Organic Seed Grower is what we need to take back community control of seeds from those who have taken it from us.”--Tom Stearns, president, High Mowing Organic Seeds

ForeWord Reviews-
As interest grows in sustainable agriculture practices, the need for organic seed is also on the rise. For a farm to be certified organic, the seed also has to be designated as such, but it’s not just those seeking or holding certifications who are leaning toward using this kind of seed. Gardeners, hobby farmers, community garden managers, and others are driving demand, particularly for heirloom vegetable varieties. Although there are several commercial companies that offer organic seed for sale, smaller growers and hobbyists are finding enjoyment and affordability in 'seed saving' for themselves. In this valuable, highly detailed exploration of the topic, John Navazio takes readers through the steps necessary to produce an organic seed crop, with best practices, a primer on crop plant biology, and tips on seed storage. Navazio is well-versed in the topic as the senior scientist for the Organic Seed Alliance and a plant breeding and seed specialist for Washington State University Extension. Insightful and experienced, Navazio provides information in a straightforward, easy-to-follow manner. After a fascinating stroll through the history of agricultural seed, he then covers vegetable families—such as alliaceae, brassicaceae, and cucurbitaceae—and their characteristics before delving into the details of particular vegetables, like leeks or lettuce. Even for those who don’t plan on seed saving, these chapters are stunning in their straightforward presentation of complex material, including soil and fertility requirements, growing methods, harvest, and genetic maintenance. As a farmer might say, every description is nutritionally dense. Although the guide is most relevant to farmers who might want to sell seeds as part of a diversified small-farm operation, Navazio’s expertise will likely be fascinating to the backyard gardener as well. Much like other types of homesteading skills, seed saving can be something of an art, and, fortunately, Navazio is an expert teacher.


  • Winner - Garden Writers Association Award, Silver
  • Winner - American Horticultural Society Book Award 


John Navazio

John Navazio

John Navazio is both the Senior Scientist for the Organic Seed Alliance and a Plant Breeding and Seed Specialist for Washington State University Extension. He trains farmers, university students, and others in organic seed production and on the fundamentals of on-farm plant breeding. His own breeding work has resulted in a number of new vegetable varieties with improved quality, flavor, and texture, as well as a greater ability to scavenge nutrients, compete with weeds, and resist heat and drought. John develops participatory breeding projects with farmers across North America to improve crop germplasm for regional seed independence. He is the author of The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production.


Seed Broadcast Blog
Organic Seed Alliance Website


What's So Special About Organic Seed?

What's So Special About Organic Seed?

The Organic Seed Grower

Pages:408 pages
Book Art:Full-color illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781933392776
Pub. Date December 17, 2012

Available In/Retail Price

Hardcover, 408 pages, $49.95