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Barrow woman's seed company a finalist for 2014 national award

POSTED: September 3, 2014 3:57 p.m.
Special photo / For the Barrow County News/

Barrow resident Joanne Roth's seed company, Mizz Tizzy's Weeds and Seeds, is a 2014 finalist in its category of the "Martha Stewart's American Made" competition.

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Barrow resident Joanne Roth’s seed company, Mizz Tizzy’s Weeds and Seeds, has ranked as a finalist in the 2014 “Martha Stewart American Made Awards” in the “Agriculture & Sustainability” food category.

As of Tuesday, Mizz Tizzy’s was one of 30 finalists in its category, for which more than 80 companies were nominated from all over the country. 

The finalist selection period will end next Tuesday, after which there will be a judging period for Category Winners by Martha Stewart and a panel of four food judges from Sept. 15 – Oct. 13. In the same span of time, there will also be a public voting period for the Audience Choice Award Winner.

The announcement of the nine Judge Honored Category Winners and the Audience Choice Award Winner will happen on or about Oct. 17, according to the American Made section of marthastewart.com.

“Martha Stewart’s American Made,” according to the site, “spotlights the maker, supports the local and celebrates the handmade.”

The site goes on to say that the awards program is comprised of people and communities that have “turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life.”

Roth’s company is only about two years old, but she said she’s been growing plants “forever and ever”—at least since she lived in England in the early ‘80s.

“I was already growing all this and I had to have a way to support it, so I started selling seeds,” Roth said.

Roth does all her growing for Mizz Tizzy’s from her residence near Statham, employing a method called “forest gardening,” or intermixing all different types of plants in the same area so that they construct an almost woodland-like habitat.

Such is the case for Roth’s backyard, which isn’t unlike a fruitful Eden in its own right, with plants of all colors, shapes, sizes and yields.

“There’s a big surprise every time you turn around,” Roth said, standing beneath a contorted willow tree. “Everything in this garden does something—though there are a few things here just because I really like them and they’re pretty.”

Not only is Roth a forest gardener, but she is also a firm believer in “permaculture,” or a state of “permanent agriculture” brought about by developing agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient—or permanent, as it were.

“Growing seeds in a permacultural setting is the healthiest thing that you can possibly do for the seeds and for yourself,” Roth said on the Mizz Tizzy’s website. A half-acre permacultural garden can feed a family of five for a year, Roth said.

Roth’s vast array of plants serves many purposes aside from the typical food or visual aesthetics one might find in other gardens. 

Some of her plants can be used as medicines, and some exist to provide shade for other plants or even for her home—she said her air conditioning bill is cut by 40 percent by her plants—and the root systems and chemicals from her plants have changed the texture of her soil over the years, to where what started as hard-packed Georgia clay is now soft.

Roth can even make pesticides and fungicides from her plants, like making tea, she said.

Before this past weekend’s storms, Roth said her plants had only gotten one and a half inches of rain since May, which has caused many of them to be less fruitful than they should be.

Nonetheless, Roth had many to show off, including absinthe, catnip and stevia, which has a sugary taste and which Roth said is an ideal sweetener for diabetic individuals to use. She cautioned against buying stevia in stores, however, due to the additives.

When a buyer orders seeds from Mizz Tizzy’s, Roth includes an informational pamphlet to teach the buyer the origins and histories of the seeds, how to grow them and a few practical uses for the plants, including recipes.

Roth, who gathered all her information and designed the pamphlets for each plant herself, said she believes education about the plants is essential. 

To that end, a catalog of her plants, a gardening journal and a recipe book—all compiled by Roth—are available for free download on the company website, mizztizzysweedsandseeds.com.

For stevia, Roth said the pamphlet explains how to convert the plant into a sweetener to be used in culinary ventures.

“It does come out green in color, but if you’re making a chocolate cake that doesn’t really matter,” Roth said.

Other plant pamphlets teach buyers anything from how to make mosquito repellent from catmints (which Roth said are 100 times stronger than the DEET used in store-bought repellent) to the origin of “pocket melons,” which ladies of the colonial era carried in their pockets for their long-lasting pleasant aroma.

Mizz Tizzy’s sales are made primarily through the company’s Etsy account, which can be found at etsy.com/shop/MizzTizzysWeedsSeeds.

More information on Mizz Tizzy’s Weeds and Seeds can be found at its website (MizzTizzysWeedsAndSeeds.com), Facebook page (facebook.com/mizztizzy2) or Pinterest account (pinterest.com/mizztizzy/). Additional questions can be asked by email at mizztizzy2@gmail.com. 

 

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