twitter icon facebook icon youtube icon instagram icon

Stories from the valley

Variety in the Valley

Contributed by Steve Beckley

Have you ever wondered where those heirloom vegetables at the farmers’ market or on your plate got their start?  There’s a good chance they started as seeds grown in the Sacramento Valley.  Seed production in the valley is a major agricultural industry with seeds for crops such as sunflowers, rice, and grain produced here.  But one local company specializes in a diverse line of heirloom and hybrid vegetable and herb seeds.  Seeds by Design located in Maxwell and Willows offers more heirloom varieties than any other production company.

keninpectingbin of peas

I had the opportunity to go up to Maxwell and visit with Ken Flagor, production manager, about the company and look at the seed mill.  Ken is an old friend, we went to Yuba College and Chico State together and he’s always accompanied by his two black labs, Maggie and Macie.

Macie&Maggie Mexican Salvia

When you drive up to their production office, the first thing you notice is more than 40 varieties of blooming flowers and herbs from their seed inventory planted there. Not only is it pretty but they attract pollinators such as bees and humming birds.  It’s their way of thanking pollinators for their important role in seed production.


June is a busy month for them as they are starting harvest and also planting crops.  Many of the varieties being planted now will be featured in 2017 seed catalogues of their customers.  I wonder how many gardeners reading the catalogues next winter will realize that many of the varieties they are considering got their start in the Sacramento Valley?

green,red lettuce Benden Farms

The number of varieties they grow is too many to list, but check out their website. I appreciate the variety of crops they and their growers add to our countryside.