Seed-growers here are donating 7,200 pounds of grass seed to a the National Park Service to help restore the Washington Mall grounds that were damaged last month by protesting farmers.
"We feel that the damage done by farmers should be helped to be put right by agriculture," said Alan Hick, president of the Oregon Seed Trade Association, whose 60-member firms are sharing the cost of the donation. The protesting farmers and their tractors did an estimated $750,000 damage to the Mall.
Hick said details of the donation, worth about $5,500, have been worked out with officials of the National Capital Park Division of the Park Service.
He said Maryland farmers have agreed to do preparation work for the lawn seeding.
The mixed varieties of seed were grown in Oregon's Willamette Valley, a world center for grass seed production. The mixture's composition was determined by park service officials to meet Washington conditions, Hick said.
"It's not the mixture we would recommend, but it's what they want," Hick said. He said he would have recommended a higher quality mix but, "they know their situation."
He added that the only remaining problem is finding transportation for the 144 50-pound bags in time for spring planting. Hick said he is talking to the Oregon governor's office and the state's congressional delegation with hopes of finding free transportation. If all else fails, he said, the seed firms would pay transportation costs. The seed must be in Washingotn by March 26.
One sticky point already has been resolved. Originally, Hick said, "they wanted some different varieties not produced in Oregon, but we woldn't go along with that." The Oregon seed, he said, will do just as well.
Hick said his association agreed with some of the goals of the protesting farmers, members of the American Agriculture Movement, but not their methods.