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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 29, 2010

Collected Seed Farm provides organic vegetables throughout the harvest season

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — Mihail Kossev has been saving seeds his whole life, and is putting them to use at Collected Seed Farm.

“We’re fresh,” Kossev told The Enterprise. “We’re like, ‘Hello, just been planted in Preston Hollow, just sprouting some roots.’”

Kossev, 24, has a degree in film from New York University, but he has decided to follow his passion for horticulture here in the Hilltowns.

“I’ve saved a lot of the seed we’re selling from gardens I’ve had before,” Kossev said. “I graduated college and was a science teacher for a bit, and decided I’d rather follow my passion, which is horticulture, and farming is the perfect way to do that.”

Kossev came to the Hilltowns from Brooklyn, and met his roommates on Craigslist.

One feature of Collected Seed Farm on which Kossev places great emphasis is the use of a gardening practice called permaculture.

“It’s a system of design that helps you think about the way you set up your garden, or your house, that mimics the patterns of nature, and makes it mutually beneficial for you and nature,” Kossev said. “For example, having your chickens dig through the compost, turning the compost as they eat the insects in it, and you’re feeding the chickens. It’s a very popular way of thinking about landscape design.”

Kossev has ducks and pigs keeping his chickens company.

One way in which Collected Seed differs from most farms in the area is that the employees don’t till the soil, as this typically requires heavy equipment that burns energy. Instead, they build raised beds.

“We build up a little hill, and it’s usually perpendicular to the flow of water, so we can catch water,” Kossev said. “Then, we put a weed barrier down, like cardboard or newspaper, then four inches of compost, and then we plant directly on that.” This is closer to the way gardeners plant, he said.

Kossev’s farm is an example of community supported agriculture, or CSA, for which he currently has close to a dozen customers, and is looking for more. By paying a fee for the seeds to be planted, customers will get organic, open-pollinated vegetables that are not genetically modified — and they’ll get boxes of them every week during the harvest season. Carrots, eggplants, tomatoes, radishes, and zucchini are among the choices.

“We can pretty much accept CSA members at any time,” Kossev said. “I keep having to push back the due date; we want to get up to 25 members.” He would like to get 25 members by May 1; if he doesn’t, the deadline will be pushed back to May 15.

“June would be too late, because by then we’re looking at retail instead of CSA,” Kossev said. “Once we produce the vegetables and have them, it’ll be really easy to sell them.”

Collected Seed Farm is located at 9 Cheese Hill Road in Preston Hollow. Those interested in learning more can go to www.collectedseed.com.

“Because, it’s out first year, our inventory isn’t very expansive,” Kossev said of the website. “In order to grow our inventory, we’ll have to grow our business as well.”

Kossev is confident that growth will happen.

“When it comes to growing food, it takes a lot of energy,” Kossev said, “but it’s human energy, and we’re growing that energy.”

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