This is perhaps the greatest perennial grain currently in existence — and we're thrilled to be able to offer it for sale. Developed by Tim Peters, this perennial cereal rye is the product of years of breeding involving the wild perennial known as "Mountain Rye" (Secale montanum) and normal cereal rye (Secale cereale), which is typically an annual or biennial. This plant behaves differently in different environments, but it is generally best planted in the fall for a first harvest the following summer. It can range in height from a few feet to taller than a person. It seems the best method for growing is to sow the plants rather thickly in a well-prepared bed so that they develop a thick mat of roots and prevent weeds from growing. One patch can survive and produce for many years.
If you've followed our work since our founding in 2013, you know that breeding and improving perennial grains have been among our key goals from the beginning. Perennial staple crops replacing conventional annual crops could enable us to transform agriculture from a driver of climate change to a weapon against it. But we need more and better perennial crops to be bred. We believe that anyone who grows plants can be a plant breeder, and that all of us who grow plants should be plant breeders. That ethos led us to create the Experimental Farm Network as an open-source platform for collaboration, a place where amateurs and professionals alike can come together to work on critical plant breeding and sustainable agriculture research projects to help fight climate change and secure a food supply for humanity into the distant future. Tim's work is living proof that a person does not need a PhD to be a pathbreaking plant breeder — and now by making these seeds available to you, we hope that people like you will pick up this ball where Tim left it and run with it. There's some diversity to this 'Mountaineer' perennial rye, so there's certainly room for more selection. And there's the possibility of making more crosses with it to create newer, even better cultivars. We hope that the mere presence of this variety in our catalogue will also inspire growers out there to work on their own ingenious perennial staple crops — because the more people who try, the more people will succeed.
We are indebted to Tim for creating this wonderful plant, as well as to our friend Sylvia Davatz, founder of Solstice Seeds, who stewarded this plant for many years and was the source of seeds for our grower, Andy Hahn in Colorado. Andy is providing us with seeds for an array of wonderful plants, especially perennials, and we're very thankful he's part of the EFN team.