2011 Tourne-Sol Seed Catalog

Hot off the pdf press. Last night we put the finishing touches on our 2011 seed catalog. It can be downloaded as either

We’d planned to release the catalog a couple of weeks ago but we ran into a few logistic challenges.


Previously the labels on our seed packets only stated basic information such as the crop, the variety, and our farm details. In January, we overhauled the labels and added variety descriptions and planting instructions – in English and in French! Formatting these labels took much longer than I thought. It was a good opportunity to revamp our seed catalog descriptions, though that added to the workload.


We provide our farm promotional material in both French and English to better serve our clientele’s needs. Translating material and making sure the information is accurate in both languages takes time. Overhauling the variety descriptions meant an extra round of translation and proofreading.


We grow 70% of the varieties in our catalog. The remaining 30% come from other growers and suppliers. We only know the availability of some varieties in mid to late January. We don’t like to list a variety until we definitely know we can offer it. At our scale, it is difficult to deal with refunds when something isn’t available and we like to minimize substituting varieties.


Since we likely won’t be overhauling our labels and catalog again for† a few years, we probably could have next year’s catalog written by† early January maybe even before Christmas. We’d still have to deal with confirming different variety availabilities.

The solution† is likely the on-line store we’ll be building over the next 6 months. The store will let us maintain up to date seed listings and relieve some of the pressure on having an early seed catalog.


Next weekend, February 12 and 13, is the Montreal Seedy Saturday – our first big seedy event of the year. To get ready, we’ll be shifting into full-time seed packing on Monday. I’ll keep you up to date.

7 thoughts on “2011 Tourne-Sol Seed Catalog

  1. Great stuff Dan!!
    You spiffed up your baby with a bloomin brassica, like it!
    See ya next weekend at the Botanical Garden.

  2. Ahh…I know those catalogue and label struggles. Congrats on getting through all of that. I keep reminding myself that I DID move my farm and business to another province last November, so it is okay that my catalogue didn’t reach the printer till mid-January. Interested customers start requesting the thing around October, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to satisfy those folks without having a whole bunch of varieties scratched out as “unavailable”, as you mention above. Really – it would be ideal to have the catalogues planned 3 years in advance, with seed stock on hand for 2 (with exceptional storage conditions, of course).

  3. Hey Danny, reading about your label formatting woes got me wondering how you’re organizing your seed information. Are you relying on excel and using templates in word or are you using a more robust database?

      1. danny,
        I didn’t mean to imply you should use a db, I was just curious how you were setup. Do you also use a template to create you catalogue?

        There are some reasons why you might want to use a db, but these may not apply to you now, but may become relevant as you expand:

        – robustness: you can define each field type. If you want a date, only a date will be accepted and formatted according to you needs (e.g. bilingual). If it’s a number, how big and so on. Excel allows some great formatting options, but it does not enfore field types AFAIK. This becomes an issue when many people are updating the information and consistency is important.

        – Concurrence: how many users can edit the same data source at one time. Excel limits you to one (well sort of), which is probably just fine for you.

        -pictures: most db will allow you to add pictures directly so that it can populate your order forms, labels and catalogues or websites in the same way as with the text info.

        -online orders: if you ever want to allow your customers to buy directly from your website and have your inventory updated automatically, you’ll need a db. Using paypal, this is a lot easier than you might think, but it’s not free (paypal takes a cut, higher ISP fees for dynamic pages, web development costs).

        Choice of db depends on your needs and whether or not you’ll use it online. You’re probably good without one until you decide one of the above become important to you.

Leave a Reply