The Scoop: Philomath’s Wild Garden Seed featured in kids’ meal bags

Wild Garden Seed, an organic seed farm based in Philomath, is one of the featured seed varieties in Burgerville’s kids’ meals.

Burgerville, a restaurant chain with stores in Corvallis and Albany, offers vegetable and flower seeds instead of plastic toys in its kids’ meal bags. The latest effort is the unveiling of a new program called “Seedlings,” in partnership with the Culinary Breeding Network to make Northwest-grown and bred seeds available to customers, teach kids and adults about growing plants and inspire gardeners to grow locally grown and breed seeds at home.

The Seedlings program includes newly designed envelopes for the seeds, new bags for the kids’ meals, the introduction of the Seed Wizard to excite kids about seeds and gardening, and stories from the Northwest farmers who grow the seeds.

The seed varieties will rotate seasonally. The current lineup includes:

• “Outredgeous” lettuce — Bred by Frank Morton at Wild Garden Seed in Philomath, this lettuce was actually grown in outer space and was planted in the White House Garden by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

• “Cascadia’ snap pea — Calvin Lamborn, the father of snap peas, created an entirely new category of vegetable through decades of breeding, trials and selections. The “Cascadia” snap pea is a variety bred at Oregon State University by Jim Baggett.

• “Purple Karma” barley — This barley is an heirloom variety that is hulless, so it can be easily cooked and eaten like rice, but also beautiful as an ornamental decoration in any garden. The variety was brought to the United States in 1924 from Tibet but spent decades tucked away in the USDA seed repository until OSU researcher Brigid Meints began breeding new organic barley with it.

Frank and Karen Morton established Wild Garden Seed in 1994. According to its website, the business has become known for farm-original varieties of many salad greens, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

“This variety is so red that botany students didn’t recognize it as lettuce when they saw it in our breeding nursery back in ’98, though a crowd did gather to discuss what it might be,” Wild Garden Seed wrote about “Outredgeous” lettuce on its website. “A nice upright cut salad variety, forms a loose romaine head at maturity. An outrage of red in the salad bed, becoming a standard for salad growers. I guess this is our hit.”

On the reference to outer space, the lettuce was grown in April 2014 aboard the International Space Station.

“The Pacific Northwest is one of the best areas in the world to grow seed,” said Lane Selman, director of the Culinary Breeding Network and assistant professor at OSU. “There is an unknown community of individuals here growing seeds and breeding new varieties of the food we eat. It is the mission of the Culinary Breeding Network to raise awareness of the importance of seed and the impact it has on our food system.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Great Story! I enjoyed learning the history of the seeds that are in the packets and I applaud Burgerville for moving away from disposable plastic items and towards encouraging youth to become involved in the enjoyment and wonder of gardening.

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