Some of Mike Dunton’s earliest childhood memories are of being out in the garden with his mother or grandparents. He was working in San Francisco at a high-tech job when Mike learned that his grandmother had placed their multi-generation family farm on the market. “Upon hearing the news, I called my grandmother, told her to take it off the market, and within a few months had sold our house in California, quit my job, found a new job, and moved to the farm in Oregon.”
In a letter to Seed Savers Exchange co-founder Kent Whealy from 2000, Mike described how he and his wife Denise founded their seed company, Victory Seeds. “Two years ago, we called a little seed company that we had purchased from for the past few years, only to find they had decided to close shop. It seemed perfect. We started a dialog and tried to work out how we could take it over. We did not come to terms with them, but by this time, I was hooked on the idea. They were a standard catalog company selling modern hybrids and open-pollinated seeds. We decided that with my computer background, we would focus our efforts heavily on the Internet and only offer heirloom and OP seeds.”
After learning how seedsman Alexander W. Livingston popularized tomatoes in the 19th century, Mike dedicated himself to tracking down and/or restoring Livingston’s varieties. As of 2017, Mike has successfully preserved 19 historic Livingston tomatoes that had otherwise disappeared from the seed trade.