WINSLOW — On the day before the big nor’easter last week, workers at Johnny’s Selected Seeds were scurrying about inside a huge shipping warehouse, filling seed orders that will go to gardeners – and thawed soil – around the world.

The number of employees in the shipping department inside the fulfillment center in Winslow swelled from 10 to 70 as an additional 60 seasonal workers keep up with the work that begins the first of the year, warehouse supervisor Steve Mott said.

“On January 1, a switch gets flipped and we get crazy busy,” Mott said as focused workers with trays and carts negotiated a maze of stacks searching for herb, flower and vegetable seeds.

Mott said the workers first receive a paper order form with the name and number of the desired product, the amount of seed packs or tools and the address of the customer. Once the order is filled, it goes to another employee who scans the order to confirm it. Then the order goes to the packers, who box and address the package before it is sent to the shipping room for delivery.

From above, the shipping warehouse looks like a video game where figures silently go about their work filling orders. In another room, workers use forklifts to select large quantities of seeds, while next door, seed packages are filled that require hand-counting items and even weighing tiny seeds to get the correct quantity. A smaller room is devoted to gardening tools.

Mott said the bulk of orders come from customers in New England, then from the United States. Typically, 5 percent of Johnny’s customers are outside the U.S.

Since Jan. 1, 129,868 orders have been sent domestically, and 5,120 internationally.

Many of the seed varieties are developed at company farms in Albion, while other seeds are purchased from other sources.

“At Johnny’s we offer quality and guaranteed products for gardeners, including 2,000 varieties of seed and 1,000 tools,” Mott said. “Traditionally this is our busy season.”

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