This was a great experience. I love the genetic diversity that Sand Hill offers. Also, ordering from their catalog reminds me of the days before internet. It feels much more personal.
Lovenatives Nokesville, VA (3 reviews) February 17, 2014
I purchased vegetable seeds last year; most germinated very well but a couple did not. I contact the company; the owner determined that my timing wasn't perfect and explained how avoid the same mistakes. He replaced the seeds, and sent a bonus in addition. Altogether, a great experience; very professional advice. I will be buying from them again, with confidence.
Jonelles WARNER SPRINGS, CA (1 review) November 30, 2013
I placed an order from Sandhill for 7 Dorking chicks and 18 Asst Heavies. My first shipment contained 4 Dorking chicks, and 20 Assorted. They arrived right on time, and although they were all alive at time of receipt, many looked weak and ill. I immediately got them into the brooder and added some vitamins and electrolytes to their water, as well as sugar for energy - thinking they were probably stressed from shipping. I notified Sandhill right away by email. By that evening, over half the chicks were dead, and by the next morning, almost all of them were. I filled out Sandhill's shipping form that day and sent it in, requesting a replacement shipment.
A few weeks later I received my replacement shipment of 21 chicks ( which, according to Sandhill themselves is not enough to keep them warm during shipment ). This time, 2 were dead on arrival, and the rest were weak and stumbly. Again, I notified Sandhill by email immediately. I added antibiotics to their water this time. By the next morning, many more had died. I filled out Sandhills form again, and also emailed again to inform them of the deaths.
I wound up with 12 live chicks out of both shipments, only 3 Dorkings. I've emailed numerous times, and either get no answer to my email, or a return email asking who I am ( even though my order number has been on every email, as well as my name ). I've tried to be very pleasant, and even suggested they either just give a credit for the dead birds towards an order next summer, or replace the credit amount with seeds of some sort, if they think that there is a problem with shipping chicks out to California. I've received no answer to my request.
I have to add that during the same time period as these shipments from Sandhill, I also received 2 shipments from Welp Hatchery and had no problems with those ( lost 1 chick out of almost 100 ). Again, different breeds and some even shipped from the same state. They were all raised in the same type of brooder system, with the same feed and water ( although the last order from Sandhill were raised in my back bedroom so I could watch them closer ).
I understand that it may be a problem with shipping, or that the chicks were chilled during shipment. Both are out of my control, and I understand that Sandhill can't control all aspects of shipping either. However, I notified them of the problems right away, filled out and mailed in their shipping report form immediately, and emailed them many times- with all the information possible- asking them to resolve this, and I've been completely ignored. This isn't the way to treat customers, if you want them to remain customers. I understand they are a small operation, but if you are selling to customers you ARE a business and need to handle problems as they arise, not just ignore them.
NDFrost Norwich, ND (Zone 3a) (1 review) November 25, 2013
I ordered chicks in 2012 and left the delivery date open with the stipulation that I wanted them to have enough time to grow enough to withstand a ND winter. I got a confirmation in the mail indicating that one variety would possibly be a problem. Since I listed no substitutions, long story short I didn't get my chicks and was disappointed and not happy with these people. They did send a refund along with a voucher for my next order. At that point, I really didn't think there would be a next order. Then I got a catalog in the mail that winter and it laid out all of the obstacles they faced the year before. I have been raising poultry for 25 years and could certainly understand what they were saying. I decided to go ahead and order again because there was one breed that I really wanted and the big companies don't carry it. My order was split into two shipments a few weeks apart and ALL arrived alive and thriving! Because the order was split, they included extra chicks of another variety to have enough to ship. That on it's own is a delight to me, I am getting to try out breeds that I never even thought of getting. When Linda called to say that the second shipment went out, I had a question on one chick from the first group that was a different color than the rest and I wanted to know what it was. She put Glenn on the phone and I have to say that both of them were a delight to talk to.
My one suggestion that I would have for them... maybe it would help to set up email groups (perhaps labled something like 'sweet potatoes 2014', 'Chicks 2014', etc...) and add email addresses to the groups as the orders come in. Then if there are problems, an email can be sent to everyone on the list. For example, sweet potatoes seem to be the source of a lot of complaints. So maybe an update sent to the sweet potato group saying simply 'due to cooler than ideal conditions, the sweet potatoes have been set back and are not sprouting. We appreciate your patience with the delay.' I don't think this would add tremendously to the work load, and people might not get as disgruntled if they know what's going on.
I really appreciate what they are doing, and can only imagine the work involved. I feel that preserving these varieties is very important and am deeply grateful to Sand Hill for sharing.
I have never been so unhappy with a gardening company. I have been trying to order sweet potatoes from them for 3 years. You have to place your next year order the year before, to have a chance of receiving your order. In that year you have no idea of knowing if you will receive your order or not, no email saying your order will be sent or anything saying that it wont. You just have to wait till your check is returned to you in the mail, or if you get your sweet potatoes. The woman that handles the customer service dept. is the most unfriendly, unhelpful person I have ever had to deal with. You absolutely hate calling there. I understand that this is a small company and they give excuses why they have such poor customer service, but enough is enough. If you could order on line, then they could cut off the ordering when they are out of potatoes, but because they only take orders by mail, they have no way of controling how many orders they accept. So they just accept all the orders and make you wait till planting time to find out it you actually get your order or not. And then it's too late to get them from another nursery. They also don't give you planting instructions. Save your time and order from someone else. Company representative comment on August 4, 2013: On Aug 4, 2013 8:50 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We are sorry that this person is so upset. It has always been our wishes that each and every person that orders from us takes the time to read our introduction page and what we are capable of doing. We are very upfront and open with outlining our limitations and what we can and cannot do. First, we are not set up as a business with a customer service department as we are set up for the primary purpose of genetic preservation. We do not operate as a business where sales of a particular variety dictate its continued place in our catalog. We operate with the principle that if after we have grown and evaluate a variety and it makes it to our catalog then it is worthy to stay there until someone out there sees its worth. I will reference all things in this rebuttal to sweet potatoes as that seems to be the main concern. We started offering sweet potatoes as the collection grew back in 1993. At first the only interest was in the 10 or so common commercially available ones. We started offering assortments and including what we thought were worthy varieties for free. We hoped to educate about and perpetuate the varieties as well. Times have changed and so have the demands. Varieties that were looked at with disdain and disgust in 1993 such as Korean Purple, Frazier White and Ivis White Cream are now heavily sought after and, we are also grateful to see, starting to be picked up and sold by other sources. It was and still is not our intent to be the sole source for all of the varieties we maintain. We wanted to expand the locations that can grow decent good tasting varieties and we have accomplished that as we have heard success stories from nearly every state - many from gardeners who had been told by their extension service that they should not waste their time as they would not grow in their location. We have many pictures and testimonials of their successes when they followed our instructions and tried some of these less common varieties.
We currently maintain 226 varieties of sweet potatoes which we grow out in the field each summer and in addition maintain a plant in a pot in a greenhouse to act as a backup incase of field losses. Each of these varieties has its own unique qualities as to any one of the number of the following things such as flesh color, skin color, soil preference, time before roots start forming, flesh dryness or moistness, insect tolerance, and many other factors too numerous to mention here. The big problem is they are not all the same and the majority of folks today have trouble understanding that each one acts and does things differently. Taking orders online would not solve this problem . I will explain this later. Each variety sprouts and grows differently and if we were set up as a true business where our goals were profit and customer satisfaction then we would easily eliminate over 200 of these from out list and focus on the ones we know will constantly be the same and produce a huge amount of slips to make sure we get to each and every customer ASAP. I most certainly do not fault the large commercial outlets that focus on the top 10 common commercial types for these reasons. I fully understand while over the years they were excited to introduce such varieties as Carolina Ruby, Hernandez and Travis only to yank them a few years later. All of these and many others that have disappeared over the years are great for many reasons but all are tough to get a reliable slip crop from to meet the demands of today’s anxious society. This person’s negative comments clearly show the most logical business minded thing we could do is simply stop selling sweet potato slips or limit it to the ones we could guarantee will always be there ASAP. Please take the time to read our goals and mission and see that that is not how we operate. We clearly state our purposes and do not intend to give false hope to anyone about what we can and are able to do.
Here are some simple facts about just a few variables in this collection we maintain. First example. Camote Morado: same number of roots to start slips from this year as last. Last year that amount of roots under the same conditions produced over 400 slips, many more than this variety had requests for. This year we barely got 15 slips, from the same amount of roots in the same conditions. I keep intense records and would have thought we would have had the same number of slips and even if we took orders online how could we have stopped the process when the roots are not started until the last week in April and we could have easily passed the 15 slips we got months before. Example two: We have learned some varieties are heavy slip producers and some are not. Myanmar Purple for example is a very late sprouter. It takes a long time to get it to break dormancy and start producing slips, then it only sends up slips from the starting roots once and promptly rots. Ginseng Red on the other hand breaks dormancy easily and constantly produces slips that can be harvested every few days over a 3 month period of time. Each root on Myanmar Purple produces about 5 -6 slips. Ginseng Red roots of the same size produce 50-100 over their life time and maybe more. Okinawan, another popular variety, will barely produce 2-3 slips per root for me. I realize it is adapted to a much milder climate.
I simply do not know how to explain the challenges with offering so much material with all of the variables involved. We desperately try our hardest to reach each and everyone but we cannot control everything and it is surely not like seeds where you can weigh or count your starting amount and clearly know when you are sold out. We cannot predict in March exactly to a number how many of each slip we will have and suddenly stop the whole process. It also greatly depends upon what a person orders. An order that comes in May 25 might get sent out way before an order that comes in January 1 if the May 25 order had varieties that no one else ordered and they are sprouting. Our order filling process is, has been and always will be to start with the first order received in the office and work down through the numbers as the varieties have sprouted. We do not bump orders because they are too large or too small. We treat everyone the same and work with the slips that are available that day.
There is really nothing more we can do differently and still maintain our collection. We have taken on this venture to preserve this material because the USDA does not maintain an active field grown collection. It is all in tubes and when the tubes get contaminated the variety is discarded. The Seed Savers Exchange has been lukewarm and passive on maintaining the collection as there is a lot of work and expense involved and it does not fit in with their facilities. We are trying to back up our collection with Duck Creek Farms to make sure this material is still available in the future.
We do not advertize to try to promote and take on more than we can do. We do not produce a glossy catalog with flowery words to entice you to order. We simple state the pluses and minuses when we can and stick to scientific facts or results of our experiments. We do not get involved in the flavor issue . My wife and I have opposite tastes in sweet potatoes so one she gives an A, I might give a C and vice versa. The simplest and most logical “business” decision we could make would be to stop offering sweet potato slips altogether. It is very frustrating for us to try and get this material out there and made more accessible and then to constantly be yelled at and told how incompetent we are. We clearly state that our slips are all started here in our field in Iowa, grown from roots from our farm here in Iowa and we cannot start shipping them any sooner than May 25 and when you start getting yelled at as early as March 18 (yes, I was home from my teaching job because of an ice storm) when I answered the phone to obscenities about why the person had not yet received their slips. They had not read any of the information we provide and thought they needed to plant them at the same time they planted their regular potatoes and they always did that Saint Patrick’s Day.
Our idea of Customer Service is not to be on the receiving end of screaming and yelling because someone has not understood the limitations we have clearly spelled out. We are dealing with living material that is totally dependent upon the weather more so than many in today’s world realize. Our idea of customer service is to provide an information filled catalog and website and enclose proper instructions with the order and then help those who have further questions that are unique to their situation. We enjoy helping people and spend many hours doing such. Unfortunately in today’s world the idea of customer service is to allow the customer to yell, intimidate and threaten you and then you give them anything they want. We, however, strive to help customers that have had issues with shipping or variety choices or crop growing issues as the season progresses, but we do not respond positively when we are yelled at, called stupid and incompetent because it is May 26 and the person feels they are being wronged because they have yet to get their plants.
Our goals have been, are and will continue to be to provide the serious person access to rare and unique genetic material and continue to preserve the rare germplasm for future generations. We have become fully aware there are some who will not read anything we print about what we can and cannot do and become frustrated at “our lack of customer service”. We feel the problem lies in the fact that these people have not completely read and understood all of the information given in our catalog and website. We will continue to do what we do to the best of our ability and will continue to help people with their questions as best we can.
Bad customer service. No confirmation of order receipt. Just got word my check is being returned today, no explanation of why in response to email I sent a week ago. I understand they're running a farm but people do that and manage to at least contact their customers. Wish I'd known earlier - now I need to find somewhere else to get sweet potato slips. Won't be ordering here again.
I ordered some unknown garlic bulbils to me late last fall. They were generous and healthy. They didn't have all of the varieties I requested, so they sent me a credit form, which was great with me because their mission and seed selections are truly awesome!
I just sent in my order for poultry and seeds. Very excited to receive my order. I ordered Assorted Heavies with a few requests, it will be exciting to see what we get. We lost all of our chickens last week to a weasel, so lost without chickens. We are new chicken enthusiasts (two years). It forces us to redesign the coop and of course try different heritage breeds!
I am truly thankful for the work they do and am looking forward to my order!
jeremybro Saint George, KS (4 reviews) January 24, 2013
We ordered seed from them last spring because they had varieties I couldn't find elsewhere, and because I admire their mission. We will order from them again this year because of their great quality. The peanuts and popcorn were exceptional. The dent corn failed due to drought. I indicated on my order form that substitutions were acceptable, and they sent 3 different packets to replace the one that was sold out. Near 100% germination, vigorous seedlings -- would have had excellent crops all around if the weather had cooperated.
ammeier West Lafayette, IN (1 review) January 17, 2013
My husband and myself have been patiently waiting for the Sand Hill catalog to arrive. And we have just received it last week! This will be our third time ordering seeds from them. We do like that it is not some kind of a huge company focused on profit, and we do not mind their catalog being very simple and not in color. They are very personal as well. All of their seeds thrived in the lasts years hot Indiana summer. Especially the chard mix : )
I just wanted to express my gratitude for their hard work and that they are here providing me with all their awesome seeds!
I Have ordered from Sandhill for several years and have always had good experiences. I love that they do this. I can't even imagine how much work it would take to do all this on their own plus they have full time jobs.(I don't know about anyone else but, I know I would not be able to do all this. I have trouble keeping up with my part time job and the large veggie garden). I mean look at all the variety! there has to be at least 500 different tomato varietys alone. probably 50 different pepper, over 50 types of melon, over 50 types of beans. etc. and on and on. they have every type of garden vegetable available. I love that they are non GMO. I have great germination rates, and healthy, strong plants from their seed. I enjoy reading threw the catalog too. I will always order from this company. can't wait for the new catalog to come out so I can start planning my next garden season!
Thank you sandhill for providing us with non GMO, heirloom seed.
Gypsi Fort Worth, TX (2 reviews) December 20, 2012
Not your normal expectation for customer contact, no online order verification, no credit card acceptance, I did not know whether I would receive slips until they came, but their website stated that orders were first come first serve and might not come depending on crop.
Best sweet potatoes I have ever grown or eaten, I ordered from 2 places, theirs arrived in deep hot Texas summer (late may or early June) but arrived in better condition, took off and did better than my earlier planted slips.
I will be trying their seeds and chicks in the future.
We have ordered from Sand Hill for the last two years and will order again for the 2013 year. We have ordered seeds, chicks, turkeys and ducks. We have received most of your chicks on own first choice of delivery days (we place our order in the Fall). Our ducks were delayed a year but was totally fine about that. That nice spring was sent some of the ducks with few filler ducks and was refund for the rest of the order. Have always receiced timely emails from them. Very nice to work with. We use the different breeds we order from them to educate people at our local county fair. Thank You for all you do.
My experience is pretty much the same as a lot of the other negative feedbacks regarding sweet potato orders with condescending customer service and last minute notification that they cannot fill the order.
In March I could not get a return email when inquiring about two varities of potatoes. Early April I placed my order. May 26 I receive my confirmation letter stating my order would be shipped by June 25. The problem here is they do not state in the catalog or in this letter that you could be out of luck if there is a crop failure, and that didn't occur to me. I assumed with this letter we were good to go and my slips would be on the way, so I did not order with anyone else.
June 29th I got my check back with a letter saying they can't fill the order because the demand was tremendous and that they were already sold out in early April.
I called and left a message about ordering something else but did not get a call back. I sent an email July 21st about being unhappy with their lack of customer service and asked if they were already sold out, why did they not return my check immediately so I could order with someone else. NOW I get a response with a nasty and sarcastic email from Mr. Drowns telling me that "he's sorry I don't understand they are not super human and cannot just snap their fingers or turn a crank and produce more of a product." They had crop death with some of the old standbys and they were not aware of this before the letters went out.
Yikes! The letter I received with my return check said nothing about crop failure, but rather the demand was tremendous and that early April they were sold out of the regular season slips. There is nothing in the catalog about receiving a confirmation letter does not necessarily mean you're going to get your order, so you might have a back up plan.
However, after saying that he's tried very hard to explain to me how things work and I still seem to think they can just make plants appear, he is offering to send me my 2012 order for free in 2013.
Over the past 3 years, I have ordered a variety of heirloom seeds from Glen and Linda. Without fail, their seeds germinate and produce far better than several other catalogs that I had religiously ordered from in the past. I am able to find EXACTLY what I am looking for each and every year. Linda had ALWAYS returned my calls within a weeks time and answered any questions I asked. As long as customers understand that this is a SMALL operation and PATIENCE is necessary, I feel the experience of dealing with Sandhill has been totally positive. Honestly, I couldn't be happier with their variety of seeds and quality of their poultry! My only wish is that they were able to squeak in a Facebook page! Thank you for all that you do, Glen and Linda! You are great!
Sand Hill is not a source for the 'needy', but for the patient. This is a part time job for them, and you have to give them credit for running an organic seed company in the middle of Monsanto country!
My order of seeds arrived after two weeks, and the amounts were generous, packaged well, germination rate excellent. And there is a great variety, free shipping on orders over $10., bargain sweet potato slips after season, bonus seeds, and great prices.
I have placed two orders with the company with no complaints, except, not knowing ahead of time when something is sold out.
This place is wonderful. Quirky, sometimes a bit grumpy in their catalogue, but truly impressive in what they do.
What you get from ordering from them is access to a vast variety of heirloom and rare seeds, sweet potatoes, and poultry, as well as other more typical products, from a company whose mission is to preserve the genetic lines of these species. The drawback is that they are a small operation that they produce almost all the seeds they sell themselves. They can run out of a product or get a little behind in fulfilling orders as they wait for things to grow or hatch. Understand them at the start and you'll have a good experience.
I've been ordering from them for about five years. All of the seeds I've gotten from them have germinated quite well. At least twice I haven't gotten exactly what I ordered, but it works out fine. As an example, my first order I ordered some odd variety of corn. It turned out they were sold out BUT in my order they included TWO packets of a similar variety PLUS a voucher for the price of the variety they couldn't send. On the order form you can indicate if it's okay to substitute a similar variety. A couple times I've received an extra packet of seeds to try out, too.
Last year I ordered sweet potatoes as well. They arrived when expected, all alive, and 1 or 2 extra of each variety I ordered. All grew very well.
As they say - repeatedly - on their website and in their catalogue - they aren't a huge operation and all their work producing poultry, seeds, and sweet potato slips happens here in Iowa. So, bad weather, a flood, or whatever could put a kink in their system, but they'll do their best to smooth it out. Knowing this before you order might help. It seems like some of the negative reviews were from people who were in more of a hurry than Sand Hill's system could accommodate. Don't count on them shipping your chickens before they hatch, as it were.
Ordering from them might not be to everyone's taste. If I absolutely positively definitely had to have exactly one specific cultivar that I could get somewhere else, I might not order that from them. If I needed something delivered on an exact date, I wouldn't order from them. I'd also be sure to notice that they make absolutely NO representations that they can oblige exact shipping dates. Usually I have a little bit of flexibility, and I enjoy doing business with them. Their variety and commitment to providing quality products and service outweigh any drawbacks.
I wish they would talk to an efficiency expert to reduce some of the quirks in their process, and I wish they'd ask me to copyedit their catalogue so it didn't sound gruff in places, but regardless I expect to be doing business with them for years to come.
bella_trix Montgomery County, PA (Zone 6b) (4 reviews) November 10, 2011
I have ordered both seeds and sweet potato slips from Sand Hill for five years and have been extremely satisfied with my orders and the quality of their seeds/slips! They are a fantastic company, but a local, family owned, small, fantastic company. They grow their own seed, start their own sweet potato slips (in IOWA) and ship out with a very small work force. If you are expecting seeds very quickly or a guarantee on everything being available, this is not the company for you. They are at the whim of the weather and with sweet potatoes (in IOWA) that can be tricky. Last year was horrible weather for starting slips. They are not some huge company that pays cheap labor to grow everything out of the country.
In case the above makes you hesitate to order sweet potatoes...trust me, just order them!! It will be the best thing you ever did, even if you don't get some of the varieties that you wanted or at the perfect time. The varieties of sweet potato that Sand Hill has taste so much better than any regular sweet potato I've had. I love Betty's, Maryland 810, Korean Purple and Heartogold. And you can start your own slips the following year; it is easy on a small scale.
For seeds, Sand Hill's prices are extremely reasonable and the Heirloom varieties are top quality. Most of my "must plant" varieties originally came from Sand Hill. I have had good germination. Some of my favorites from Sand Hill are: Uncle Steve's Italian pole bean, Red Acre cabbage, Nobel spinach, Grape beans, Cochita Pueblo popcorn, Oaxacan Green dent corn, Cherokee Squaw dent corn, Saravejo Bamija Okra, Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon, Tatume summer squash and Odessa summer squash.
As a repeat customer, I recommend Sand Hill highly. Plan ahead, order early and have some patience; it is worth it to order from this company.
Soulsecho Baltimore, MD (2 reviews) September 25, 2011
This is the second time I ordered from Sand Hill. The 1st time, there were no issues, I got what I ordered when they promised delivery. My sweets arrived in June, after the sweets I had ordered from another company. I will say, Sand Hill's started slowly but took over by harvest time. This year I ordered several specific varieties and the closeout special. My varieties were not delivered due to field conditions, but I did get a refund. The closeout special had more varieties then I anticipated, I had to scramble to find space for all of them. I look forward to my harvest. I totally enjoy working with this company.
Patty4853 Pierson, FL (1 review) September 25, 2011
My experience with Sandhill has been 110 percent positive! The company is definitely a "labor of love;" giving people an opportunity to receive very rare varieties they would not be able to find elsewhere. These people are not getting rich; in fact I don't know how they break even. All of their prices are very low and they have to be losing money on shipping.
I have ordered seeds and poultry from them and have been thrilled with the rare breeds and varieties. My crested ducks and rare chickens gave me pleasure for years! Linda and Glenn are amazing people. I can't wait to order again.
I couldn't be happier with my experience with Sand Hill Preservation over the five years I have been ordering from them. Let me say first that, yes, I have read all the substantial disclosures in their catalogue and on their web site. Actually, I had previously thought it was all a bit overkill, I mean if their crops didn't produce and I don't get my ground cherry seed or sweet potato slips, it's not like my world will come to an end. Having read some of the negative posts here though, I realize why they wrote such a lengthy disclosure about their limited time for customer service and the uncertainties and hazards of farming seed crops and animals !
Roosevelt gave a speech long, long ago about how "It's not the critic who counts...The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood." I'm so very thankful for the dust and sweat and blood these folks endure (in what I read on their web site, it is a hobby undertaken in addition to another full time job!) for those of us interested in a genetically diverse, non-GMO supply of seeds and poultry and sweet potatoes (maybe they supply other things I'm not aware of, but that's all I've gotten.)
Over the years I've gotten chicks, ducks, seeds and sweet potato slips. Some years, my selections weren't available for whatever reason. As it says in their lengthly disclosures, I didn't get any advance notice that I won't get that part of my order, they just sent me a refund at the end of the season. It's been oh-so-VERY-rare that I haven't gotten something I ordered, and I order a pretty large number of different things each year. I got every sweet potato slip I ordered this year. They came later than I thought they might but HOLY COW they are growing like crazy. I'm not going to have any problem getting a great crop and we have a pretty short season in this part of the US. I should mention that like their catalog suggests, I place my order early each year.
On the seeds, I would estimate I'm well over 90% on the germination rate of a really diverse group of crops. (and truth be told I'm not that great a gardener :) I've gotten nearly 50 chicks from them and only 1 was not alive on arrival. Of the remaining 49, only 1 other has died in the last 3 years. I have gotten ducks from them as well and had the same exceptional experience as the chicks.
I always get a nice "thank you!" on my receipt with each order and the one time I had to call I received a pleasant response. I always feel I am getting way more value for my money than any other place I've gotten poultry or seed.
I am so very thankful to be able to buy the things for our place from a small family business. I am so very thankful there is someone who cares about genetic diversity to put up with the "dust and sweet and blood" for those of us lucky enough to share in their fine efforts. I'll add...it's not the critics who count.
Read the disclosures on their web site and in their catalog -- and know that they are not like the big catalog companies with a online, full-time customer service department. If I remember right, their names are Glenn and Linda and I think it's just the two of them doing most everything (I just can't imagine that in addition to a full time job), which to me makes me appreciate them and their efforts all the more.
I'll order from them every year and continue to connect my family and friends with Sand Hill.
Best wishes to all for a bountiful harvest this and every year.
Janna Mahwah, NJ (Zone 6a) (26 reviews) July 27, 2011
I placed an order with this company in February and was so excited about my new sweet potato collection! The company offers many varieties and I was really looking forward to it. In mid-May the order never showed up, so I called and was re-assured that the order will ship soon after a small delay. The woman was not very friendly on the phone, she blamed the delays on the bad weather. I agreed to wait and did not order my potatoes elsewhere (what a mistake!). Then I called again few weeks later, and this time a long recording was re-assuring people that their orders will ship no later than "next week." After July 4th I got the sinking feeling that I am not getting anything from this company. In a week or so I received a letter saying that my order will not be fulfilled and my check was returned.
Well, thanks! So I will not grow sweet potatoes this year at all because of Sand Hill Preservation Company's procrastination practices. I would appreciate if you at least let me know earlier that you can't ship the potatoes, at least I would have had a chance to order elsewhere. Now what?
Why businesses do this?? Please have respect for your customers and be honest with them upfront instead of holding their money and making false promises that you can't fulfill.
I am very disappointed, and what a shame, since they have such a large collection. I almost recommended your company to my gardening friends, now I certainly won't.Company representative comment on July 28, 2011: On Jul 28, 2011 9:22 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We are sorry for your disappointment, but as we clearly state in our catalog and on our website, our slips are started here in Iowa, in the field. Therefore, we are totally dependant upon the weather as to whether we will get a crop. As an avid weather observer for over 40 years, I felt that the cold spell would not linger as long as it did and delay the slips' growth. All indications from previous years, with the heat building in the Southwestern United States that it would eventually spread northward and we would finally have normal growing conditions. We had enough roots bedded had we had normal weather to produce enough slips. When we did not get normal weather by the middle of June, it became a crisis situation for us. We attempted to keep people updated with messages on the "News and Updates" section of our website and via messages on our voice mail. We did all that we humanly could to try to reach every person, but we realized that we would not be able to please everyone. What this person recognizes is the fact that we do have a huge collection, of which it is our goal and mission to spread as many varieties around the United States to as many people who have never had the opportunity to grow sweet potatoes but can with some of the unique varieties that we have. There is a reason why the large scale producers only offer a few varieties, because those are the ones that are predictable sprouters and produce large numbers of slips so that they can guarantee a crop. We try not to focus on those varieties, but instead, focus on ones with unique characteristics and genetic diversity. The unfortunate situation is many of these are not predictable sprouters and in some cases produce very few sprouts. We never ever advertise or try to convince people to rely totally on us for their sweet potato crop. We, instead, prefer to stick to our mission as being a source of genetic diversity for those who are adventurous enough and patient enough to deal with the uniqueness of some of the ones in our collection. We wish this person well on the search for sweet potatoes for 2012.
I placed an order for sweet potatoes very early this year along with a seed order. There should have been plenty of time for the company to get the sweet potatoes sent in a timely manner, at least in time for planting in my area. I recieved a letter stating that the rest of my shipment would be sent ( the sweet potaotes). I waited and waited, the optimal time for planting passed, I emailed and got no response, I called their number and the message there stated that "if you had not gotten a confirmation letter you probley would not get your order', I asked at that time ( left a message, as they do not actually answer their phone or email you back) for my order to be cancelled and requested a refund. I did not recieve my refund as requested and will chalk up my experience with Sandhill preservation center as a waste of money, time and aggrivation. A lot of us work regular jobs and do lots of activities on the side. I imagine that a lot of us would be able to find time to respond to others that had sent us their hard earned money for products we were selling.
If they would have called or emailed me and let me know I would have obtained my slips else where.
Will not be ordering from them again.Company representative comment on July 28, 2011: On Jul 28, 2011 9:07 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We are very sorry for this customer's disappointment over the sweet potato situation. It is extremely difficult for many individuals to understand that our sweet potato slips are grown here in Iowa in the field (not in a greenhouse) and are not drop shipped from the southern states. This is the reason that we are able to offer well over 100 varieties --- because we grow them ourselves. We grow the roots one year and make our starting beds to produce the slips the following April. This year was an exceptionally cold Spring and we were not able to get the slip beds started until the first week-end in May. We did not have very many warm, sweet potato favorable days in the month of May and the cold stretch extended into June. To help explain the process of how sweet potato slips are produced, you place the roots on the ground in 2" x 4" frames and then cover with peat moss. We then soak that down with water and cover with plastic for a couple of weeks until the slips start to show. In normal weather, you can harvest the slips every two to three days and a new crop keeps coming on. Normal sweet potato slip weather is highs in the 80's and lows in the 60's. The perfect temperature seems to be about 90 in the daytime and 70 at night as well as very humid. Sweet potatoes produce very little growth with temperatures below 70 during the day. We had one full week in June when it rarely reached 70 during the daytime and was close to 50 at night and they simply did not produce slips. We indicate in four places what our normal shipping season is - - - in our catalog, on our website, on the order blank, and on the confirmation that is sent when we receive the order. Our normal shipping season is May 25 to June 25. We in no way attempt to deceive the customer that we are able to provide them earlier than that. We, ourselves, here plant ours when our normal shipping season of June 25 is over and before we start shipping the "Season Closeout" specials. This person's order number was in the 400's and was for some varieties that were slower to sprout this year. These varieties were also extremely popular and there were many orders ahead of hers. Her slips were shipped on June 22 and the only communication that we can find from her was a telephone call on June 23 cancelling the order. I attempted to contact her and was told by the person who answered the phone that she did, in fact, receive the slips but not when she wanted them. I am not sure what we can do further when we clearly indicate what our limitations as far as shipping times are.
I ordered 15 Golden Cascade ducks last year so to make sure I got in on a early hatch and early delivery and was told I would get a conformation and possible delivery date by the first week of January, never heard from them.
March I contacted them asking about the order and when I could expect the ducks and was told the order hadn't been paid for yet (these were a gift from a person that lost her flock to a bob cat inwhich I was supposed to get)
Finally got a hatch date of May 17th and on that day got a call telling me they were shipped, box arrived on May 19th with 5 dead and the smell was like something had been dead for a week which my locale PO can verify. They come
home and are put in a warm brooder and with in 24 hours 6 more drop dead (total 11) so I called and left a message
and the following Tuesday May 23rd I get a call back saying I would get a full replacement but being other orders need to be filled they didn't know when I would get my replacement ducks so I wrote a very pleasant email and sent a hand written insurance form saying I would gladly take substitutes and gave them 2 other breeds, also said I would take a mixed order of left over ducks after other orders were filled so not to put someone else out of their order and have never to this date heard back about my request for substitutes.
I have called every 2 weeks and sent emails asking about a possible mixed shipment and that I did not want to be brooding baby ducks late in the year, actually didn't want to do this twice being they are so messy...never heard back from them until finally after me writing and telling them how horrible they were about customer relations and to send me something so I can be done with them and I promissed to never bother them again with any future orders...I even asked for chicks as a substitute just to be done with this nightmare and finally got a reply saying "There are NO Golden Cascades to send" and thats it... so I replied asking about a substitute and again was ignored again. I sent a very unpleasant email July 1st and get a reply from Glen saying "I haven't read any of your emails but my wife said" blah blah blah and that I have not asked for any substitures or they would have been sent and goes on and one about looking at the stars and smelling the roses and I can't be pleased and lies out of both sides of his mouth just like he has done in his replies here to others that have given them a negative feedback here and I will bet he will do the same after mine but I have every email I sent begging them to please respond and with the same substitute info on every message and nothing. Glen tends to place the blame onto his customers
when he is at total faught.
Every one I know that has bought from SandHill has had the same experience with waiting on orders and no responce from Linda or Glen.
I was ignored by Linda, lied about from Linda and then was told by Glen I was about to get my replacement order but he changed his mind because of the way I wrote them asking for someone there to respond. again, more lies from Glen
and Linda....I was told I would have a check by the end of this week July8th, I am willing to bet thats another "checks in the mail LIE" I will NEVER deal with them in any way other then report them to better business and possibly call every state agency to report the sick animals they are sending out to customers....I have since lost another duckling, one was a runt and never grew an inch in over 6 weeks and finally died...
As stated I can prove I have sent emails after email asking for mixed or substitutes to take care of getting my replacement. and I have the finale response from Glen saying he never read my emails but: blah blah blah
and I expect him to do the same here...How about the truth Glen, for once. Company representative comment on July 28, 2011: On Jul 28, 2011 8:50 PM, Sand Hill Preservation Center responded with:
We have waited to respond to this posting until we received verification that Mr Higginbotham not only received our check for a total refund, but had actually cashed the check. Now that that has occurred, we are going to present our side of the story with facts and minimal emotion. On December 13, 2010, we received an order from a long time customer of ours for 15 ducklings to be shipped to the above individual. No money was enclosed with this order and, not knowing if it was a surprise gift, we sent the confirmation on January 3, 2011, to the individual that placed the order indicating that we would need payment by January 20 if the order was o.k. as confirmed. On that confirmation, we indicated the first possible ship date of May 17. In the rush of the Spring season, we did not realize that we had not received payment for this order until March 13 when Mr. Higginbotham called wanting to know where his ducks were. We indicated to him at that time that we had not received payment for his order yet. We did receive payment for this order on March 21. On May 17, we shipped him 17 ducklings. On May 19 he received them and 5 were dead. He called the next day and indicated that 11 total had died. At that time when he called we indicated to him that we were very booked up on the breed of ducks he needed replaced and that we would work him in for a reshipment just as soon as we possibly could. With our odd Spring weather that we had, duck fertility did not hold up well and when we were running behind, it became more apparent from his e-mails that he wasn't patient but that he also kept changing the breeds and species that he wanted us to send as replacements. Therefore, on July 2, I sent him an e-mail indicating that I would send him a total refund including postage and indicated that I would pray that he would be able to come to peace with this situation. I then went out to do chores and, over the course of the next 1 to 2 hours he sent 4 e-mails and 3 telephone messages that were filled with filthy language and violent threats against our personhood. The things that he mentioned that he would do to us personally should not be placed in a public forum where children might have access to them. As far as his reference to us as being a nightmare, it is us who has the nightmares wondering if he will show up to carry out those violent acts. We have contacted our County Sheriff's office to alert them of this possibility and were told to call immediately if anything devloped. He has received a complete refund. He was not sent diseased birds. Our flocks are inspected twice a year by a certified veterinarian and we comply with all the rules, testing and guidelines of the NPIP. Therefore, he should have nothing more to say about this issue.
purple53 Rohrersville, MD (2 reviews) June 13, 2011
Posted on February 4, 2011, updated June 13, 2011
I have ordered seed and sweet potato slips from Sand Hill for many years now for my large organic home garden in western Maryland. Last year's sw. pot. shortage was of course a disappointment, and our season here was brutal, so my harvest was a bust. This year I managed to place my sw. pot. order early (in Dec.) and look forward to a good harvest--assuming we get the solar-powered electric fence netting in place to deter one vile groundhog! Sand Hill's faithful work to preserve old varieties of garden plants (now with organic certification) and poultry breeds is in itself something worth supporting. But they deliver, too. I think some of the criticism of customer service may be legitimate ONLY as it regards phone communication. Glen and Linda are not in the business of coddling anyone. If you call about an order or a problem it's important to remember that these are people working very long, hard hours at a "hobby" business, with only a few hours to devote to phone calls and emails. I kept that in mind when I had to call last year to clear up a problem with my charges--a mutual error, as it turned out. The people who run small, dedicated family business are humans first, business people second. Perhaps at some point Sand Hill will have the resources to hire someone for customer service. Until then I am grateful for their continuing good service and rare, wonderful offerings.On June 13th, 2011, purple53 added the following:
The slips for 7 varieties of sweet potato that I ordered in early winter arrived safe, sound, and beautiful today. With the weather we were having here in the Mid-Atlantic--extreme heat and no rain, after dark, cool days and flooding rain back in April and May--I've had my hands full getting beds ready and plants in the ground. But I WILL have the sweet potato beds ready by tonight or tomorrow! This is one crop I care very deeply about. The solar-powered electric netting around the garden is saving me from groundhogs; the high tensile fencing is still keeping deer at bay. Sand Hill is the source of not only my sweet potatoes but my heirloom tomato and pepper seed as well. Everything is healthy so far, and I'm happy.
I ordered okra seeds called Jing Orange from Sand Hill Preservation Center and was amazed how fast I got them in a timely manner by snail mail. Will buy from them again. I only found these seeds in 2 locations and other site was sold out.
dreaves Hutto, TX (Zone 8b) (6 reviews) March 7, 2011
I ordered some seed (Orange Jing Okra) that I had been unable to locate anywhere else along with a few other types of seeds. The order was processed quickly and accurately. To be honest, I'm somewhat amazed since I know that the operation is done on a hobby basis, with paper-base systems.
The Sand Hill goal of maintaining genetic diversity is something that I can support, and I will order from them as often as possible.
drthor Irving, TX (Zone 8a) (8 reviews) March 2, 2011
I have just received my seed order.
This company was the only one that has a fantastic red variety of Okra from Africa.
I couldn't order on-line, so I sent a check with my order.
The seeds arrive in perfect time. The package has lots of seeds.
I also received a free package of seeds ... I am guessing because it was the first time I ordered from them.
I am very impressed and I will order again.
Tabacum Mantua, OH (Zone 5a) (16 reviews) January 28, 2011
1/28/11.........Received seeds ordered from Sandhill
Preservation Center......they arrived well packaged and
with adequate seed packets....Prices are reasonable.....
This group adheres to the practices of genetic preservation of seeds and poultry.....something to be
admired in today's world of agriculture practices....
Have ordered from them in the past with seed rate germination adequate....
JollyRoger Oliver Springs, TN (Zone 6a) (1 review) July 28, 2010
Ordered from this company for the first time this year. (Feb 2010). Very pleased with the seeds and fast service. They offer a very large variety of tomato seeds and I tried several including the free Medford sent with my order. Great experience and I plan to be a regular customer.
Posted on June 21, 2010, updated June 21, 2010
I ordered a "Fancy Goose Assortment" in early March- they arrived on June 19th. One was dead, and I recieved 2 White Chinese goslings. No, there's nothing inherently wrong with White Chinese, but they are hardly considered "Fancy", and are not listed as one of the breeds I might possibly get. I'll have to say that I'm more than a little dissappointed with this order- and I will most likely not deal with them again.On June 21st, 2010, MotherGoose2 added the following:
I was contacted later in the day with a message saying that they intended to send me a partial refund since they didn't send me the breeds I had ordered. He was rather short and accused me of hanging up on him twice- please! In any case, we'll see what kind of refund I get. It will be only established poultry houses from now on- rest assured.
This was my first poultry mail order and I could not have been more pleased!
I chose Sand Hill because I support their mission of preserving and improving heritage-breed poultry and maintaining the health and genetic diversity of their stock. They have an excellent selection of rare and interesting breeds to choose from.
The breeds we had initially chosen were in high demand and we ordered late, so when they were unable to fill our first requests, we were sent substitutions instead. (When you order, you will be asked whether or not you will accept breed substitution, so be sure to indicate that on your order form. Do remember that Sand Hill is a small, family run operation and as such they are at the mercy of the laying/hatching rate as well as the changing desires of their customers each year). The folks at Sand Hill were very kind about everything and sent us some extras above and beyond what we'd expected to make up for it!
All chicks arrived on time at our post office alive and well. Within minutes of getting home they were drinking, eating, and running around! It's been over 12 hours and everyone is alert and active. There are no signs of lethargy or ill health, and zero mortality. Sand Hill has given this first-time poultry keeper the best possible start!
Thank you so very much! I will be recommending Sand Hill Preservation Center to all my family and friends!
VAgardener2 Richmond , VA (Zone 7b) (10 reviews) May 12, 2010
Posted on April 30, 2010, updated May 12, 2010
Posted on April 30, 2010, updated April 30, 2010
I ordered seeds from Sand Hill Preservation Center for the first time this spring. I mailed my order on April 13th and received the seeds on April 23th. This is an amazing turn-around time considering that everything was done by mail and at the peak of ordering/planting season.
The seeds were packaged very well. I will try to give an update later about germination rates.
I also really like their website.
I support their mission of preserving heirloom seeds and highly recommend this company to every gardener. On April 30th, 2010, VAgardener2 added the following:
I wanted to add that I got a free seed packet of Kale. I would never have considered growing it, but will try it now that I have some seed. Free seed packets are a good way to try something new. Thank you, Sand Hill.On May 12th, 2010, VAgardener2 added the following:
I wanted to add that there is no shipping charge for orders over $10, and $2 shipping for orders under $10. That's the best shipping policy I have seen. And their prices are very-very reasonable.
This is my top 5 mail-order seed company.
Keep up the good work.
Seeds were received within the guidelines offered by Sand Hill. It's remarkable that they get everything together as a "hobby". Quite an admirable undertaking. I was particularly interested in obtaining seeds for the South American squash, Zapallito de Tronco. Sand Hill was the only retail supplier I could find in the US. This squash is a household staple in Argentina and Uruguay, yet is almost unknown in America. It is a winter squash, generally harvested in an immature state and used as a summer squash, often stuffed. I'm hopeful that something with such great popularity in a country whose cuisine is similar to ours might become a useful addition to my home garden and my home cooking.
Doug9345 Durhamville, NY (Zone 5b) (7 reviews) March 26, 2010
This is the first time I ordered from this company. I mailed my order on 3/6 and my seeds were mailed 3/19. Not bad for mail having to go both ways. I ordered from them because ethy had a number or corn varieties that I couldn't get otherwise. All the seeds I ordered were included. I'd like to see them include a packing list with the seed to make it easier to check the order and to have something to file so that I know what I ordered when I look next year. I'd also like to be able to order online.
Missyinbama Fredericksburg, VI (Zone 7a) (34 reviews) March 13, 2010
I placed and order for chickens and seeds, relatively late in the ordering season. The turnaround time on the seeds was very good. I'm also actually pleased that they seem pretty accomodating to my chicken order since they are one of the few places that have the breed of chickens that I am looking for- and I looked around!
blueeyeskms Waverly, KS (Zone 5b) (29 reviews) March 9, 2010
So far I have been pleased with this company in the past. Extremely displeased that I cannot choose my own varieties this year and had to order a general assortment instead. Will wait to see how many varieties are included and report back after receiving order.
I have ordered from this company for the past 3 years and while I admire the mission, I have grown less impressed with the customer service over time. I ordered sweet potatoes the first year and those came packed well and performed well. The seeds have also been fine and I really do enjoy the rare varieties they offer. My sweet potato order 2 years ago was not filled due to weather/flooding (understandable), and last year I ordered an assortment package that did not get filled.
While both those circumstances were understandable, my concern is that I find the customer service to be very unprofessional. The website has a bunch of bold, somewhat condescending statements about what not to expect from them. Meanwhile the ordering process is more labor intensive and lacking in communication/updates about orders. Today I pulled them up on the web with my list in hand and after being reminded of their negative tone, I concluded I will shop elsewhere this year.