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09/30/2007 - Clearwater Seed Graduates to Courtyard

Clearwater Seed, which is not quite two-years old, has already graduated from the Sirti business accelerator program. Their new home is in the Triangle’s Courtyard Office Center at 827 West First Ave, Suite 307. The company is headed by Mark Mustoe, who is in charge of seed sales and restoration consulting. Clearwater Seed growers produce seeds from dozens of species of Western United States native grasses and flowers. Although they will provide seeds for non-native species, e.g. turf grasses, at least two thirds of their primarily wholesale sales are for native species. Clearwater’s motto is, “Quality seed, knowledge, and integrity make the difference.”

According to Mustoe, native plant landscapes will become more important in the future because they require much less water to maintain their beauty. However, he cautions, in the beginning native landscapes must be as carefully planned, prepared, and managed as those containing water and fertilizer gobbling turf grasses. Native plants are slow to become established – often requiring a year or more – and during that time, those plentiful and easily established non-native invasive weeds will simply drop in and take over. “The first year is critical,” says Mustoe, “but once established, the native landscape requires almost no care. This includes little water, fertilizer, and hardly any mowing.”

Mustoe frequently consults on projects using native species. The biggest markets are for restoration after a wildfire, roadside landscaping, and habitat restoration. “Clearwater Seed's expertise goes a long way in making the project successful,” says Mustoe. We help by selecting the right species or blend of species, then advise on what to do to get the best restoration job.” The seed business, like most of agribusiness, is seasonal. “Fall is planting time,” says Mustoe, “so now is one of our busy times.”

Over the past year, Clearwater Seed has doubled its staff. Mustoe says there are plans for future growth by planting and harvesting more and more native seed. The business of agriculture is very interesting right now with the higher commodity prices, according to Mustoe, so there is more competition for land use between grass seed growing and food crops. “What we really need right now,” says Mustoe, “is a really good rain.”

To learn more about Clearwater Seed, visit www.clearwaterseed.com.

Billie Moreland
 
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