When the FarmFolk CityFolk mobile seed cleaner recently rolled through town, a couple of us from the KFPC were lucky enough to take part in their seed cleaning session at SSOL Gardens. The mobile seed cleaner is currently being toured around the province to promote commercial seed production and support farmers who are already producing seed for sale. This well-equipped trailer can be a game-changer for farmers thinking about growing for seed as the equipment it brings can produce commercial-grade seed in a fraction of the time it would take to clean it manually.
Seed sovereignty is an integral part of food sovereignty. In order to have a resilient local or regional food system, we need to be producing our own seed so that we are less reliant on large commercial seed companies and able to develop plant varieties adapted to changing local and regional climates.
Seed cleaning can be monotonous and labour-intensive work, but it can also be very relaxing and meditative. When you see that bucket of clean seeds – the finished product of your labor, it’s also immensely satisfying. And sharing the work with a friendly crew of helpers makes for a fun day on the farm!
The seed cleaning unit itself is a trailer that houses several interesting gadgets used in the seed-cleaning process including an air-separator, which uses suction to pull the lighter chaff away from the seeds. David Catzel, who built most of the equipment in the trailer, was on hand for our session at SSOL and was able to finely-tune the airflow for each type of seed, producing a very clean finished product.
There is quite a bit of manual preparation to be done before the plant material is ready to go through the separator. This is where the teamwork comes in. The more plant material that can be removed from the seed beforehand, the more effective the final cleaning will be. The mobile seed trailer is equipped with a sizeable collection of hand screens, which make the process easier.
On the day we were there, we helped clean two varieties of beans, six of carrots, ten lettuce varieties, and two onions. Daniela from SSOL Gardens figured the session saved her a week to 10 days of work and was way more fun than doing it alone!
David also facilitated a seed saving workshop for us while he was in town, which, unfortunately, we had to restrict to seven people because of social distancing restrictions. For those of us who got to attend, it was very informative and inspiring. One important takeaway was that although seed saving can be very scientific and particular with tons to learn about plant varieties, cross-pollination, and isolation distances, it can also be very simple. Many of our common vegetables, such as tomatoes, lettuce, beans, and peas are mostly self-pollinating and can easily be saved from one year to the next. And sometimes unintended cross-pollination can result in something new and different!
Thanks to David Catzel and Steph Benoit for organizing and facilitating the event and to FarmFolk CityFolk for making it possible!
It’s that time again! Seedy Saturday is this Saturday, March 14. Come on down to the OLPH Parish Centre between 10am and 2pm to get into the planting mood! There are lots of vendors and some great workshops planned.
The KFPC will be there with our Seed Library collection, and a seed swap table. Bring any seeds you have to trade, or sign up as a library member and take out seeds for free (returns welcome, but not required)
AND – We are once again offering our spring fruit-tree pruning workshop, but with the added component of an introduction to espalier. Greg Houghton will guide participants through the basics of when, why, and how to prune, and then focus on how to train trees to grow into specific shapes and forms.
Participants will then have the chance to practice on some espaliers in progress under his expert guidance!
For more information and tickets, go to Eventbrite.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the BC Seed Gathering at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Richmond, BC. This bi-annual gathering brings together members of the BC EcoSeed Co-op, Seedy Saturday/Sunday and community seed library organizers, as well as students from KPU’s Sustainable Agriculture Program to network, learn more about growing and saving seed, and get inspired from each other’s work.
And inspiring it was! From the opening address by our Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, to the carrot-tasting and judging, there was plenty of passion and cause for celebration. Ms. Popham told us she would like to rename her Ministry the “Ministry of Agriculture, Fish, and Food Systems” – which sends a clear message that she understands and values the interconnectedness of ecosystems. It is also reassuring to learn that she co-founded the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island and has been a longtime advocate for vineyard workers and food producers.
Other sources of inspiration were the many organic growers who can talk for hours about different kinds of beans or squash, and the energetic instructors from KPU’s Sustainable Ag program, who gave us a tour of their teaching farm near the KPU campus, including moveable “high tunnel” greenhouses, a geodesic dome, and their mobile seed-cleaning trailer, which just happened to be getting prepared for a trip to the Shuswap to help clean a massive amount of industrial hemp seed for Green Future Industries in Chase.
As the organizer of the Kamloops Community Seed Library, I was excited to meet other seed library organizers and chat about how they operate. The Kwantlen Seed Library is housed in several “antique” card catalogue boxes, which the organizer was lucky enough to find at an estate sale. They are ideal for storing and displaying seed collections and we at the KFPC would love to get our hands on something similar. If anyone ever comes across old card catalogue boxes or cabinets, please let us know!
The vision of the Kamloops Food Policy Council is a food system that is regenerative, sovereign, and just, and it is reassuring to know that so many knowledgeable, committed people in our province are working towards that same goal. I look forward to the next gathering in 2021, to reconnect, and see what new innovations have developed in the world of seed.
Check out this press release from the Ministry of Agriculture. It’s great to see our governments investing in our food security and supporting local farmers with equipment, skills training and financial support.
One of the awesome things about a seed library is that it attracts generous people who love to grow unusual fruit and vegetables. Ann-Marie Hunter is thrilled with the soybean varieties she’s been growing, and wanted to share them, so she contacted us about donating some to our library. Of course we said, “Yes, Please!”
We are also awaiting a donation of some kiwano (horned melon) seeds. I turns out they are not only beautiful to behold, but are packed with antioxidants and have a lot of health benefits.
Sharing seed is the best way to ensure that unusual or heirloom varieties continue to survive and thrive. The more people growing them, the better the chance they have. A small amount of seed can go a long way – the estimated return on a bean seed is 120/1!
For more information, check out the Seed Library page on our website or look for us this summer and fall at the Farmers Market and other local events.
When: February 2 and 16, 2013 and March 2 and 16, 2013
Where: Sahali Centre Mall
Contact: Leslie Welch 250.828.2321 or Fawn Knox 250.579.5768
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
“In our society, growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts… By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world – we change ourselves.”
PRESS RELEASE: Annual Seedy Saturday alters direction to pave the way for Seed Sanctuary
Seedy Saturday Event held on the last week of February is being altered so plans towards establishing a local Seed Sanctuary can begin. The Seedy Saturday event began with the idea of providing opportunities for individuals to learn how to save and share local, organic seeds, how to grow a successful garden and how to preserve the harvest. We will continue with this in mind but one group is providing a whole new approach to our annual event while others are preparing for a local seed sanctuary.
This year the Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners will host a Veggie Garden in a Bagevent during which gardening advice, information handouts on soil fertility, seed saving, and demonstrations will be offered. In addition the Master Gardeners have gathered packets of seeds into paper bags organized to contain most of the seeds needed to plant a successful garden. These bags will be handed out free to folks attending the Veggie Garden in a Bag event. The event will take place at the Visions Farmers Market at Sahali Mall commencing on February 2, 2013 from 10:00am-2:00pm. The event will be held on February 16, March 2, and 16 at the same times.
With plans well under way for a successful alternative to the Seedy Saturday, attention is now being directed to establishing a local seed sanctuary and, as well, inviting those individuals who have saved his or her own seeds to participate in a locally grown seed exchange. Our goal is to appeal to interested individuals who appreciate the importance of preserving and promoting regionally adapted organic seeds. We will need a devoted group of people who would be committed to maintaining, evaluating and keeping records of vegetables and herbs grown in this area.
This will be a daunting task but fortunately help is not far away. Dan Jason, founder of theSalt Spring Seed and Plant Sanctuary, is willing to come to Kamloops to talk about his experiences on Salt Spring Island and to help us to “grow our own seed bank”. Dan Jason will be here in Kamloops on Saturday April 27th to speak to those interested in this project and to those who want to participate in a locally grown seed exchange. The time and location are currently being considered and will be announced soon. The goal to establish a local seed sanctuary is closer to being realized.
I arrived at Sahali Mall at 9:15 on Saturday morning, Food Policy Council display board in hand, to a lineup of almost 30 people waiting outside the large room housing Seedy Saturday. Seedy Saturday is an annual event held in late winter to facilitate a seed exchange between growers just as they are preparing to plant the spring’s fresh garden, and I was looking forward to attending my very first one. Now don’t get me wrong, this year’s event was far from being Kamloops‘ first Seedy Saturday. The event, organized this year by the Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners and Friends of the New Victory Garden, was first brought to Canadians by Seeds of Diversity Canada (www.seeds.ca) in 1989. It has been since popularized all across the country and has been serving the needs of growers in Kamloops since 1995. Since then, and especially in recent years, the Kamloops event has been growing like crazy in popularity — hence, the line-up of attendees building up for half an hour before the doors were opened on Saturday morning.
As I entered the room, I found myself in a dreamland for gardeners and foodies in general. The wide open space was packed full of tables offering baked goods, honey, preserves, information and displays about growing and planting, and of course, a HUGE variety of seeds. And perhaps best of all, the room was full of enthusiastic people who are involved with growing or producing food right here in the Kamloops region. I talked to many people standing by their fascinating displays or tables full of intriguing seed packets or delicious treats.
Event volunteers offered things like a kids’ area where families could come and build their own sprouters, and hand-outs featuring a complete list of seed varieties owned by Monsanto for those wishing to avoid such seed varieties. (For those wishing to see this list and put it to good use, click HERE to have a look!)
Maggie Christie of the Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners is working on gathering and sharing information about the canning industry in Kamloops’ history. If you have knowledge, experiences, photos or artefacts to share with Maggie and those who will benefit from her project, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-828-1934. Thank you!!
Erin Edwards, a Kamloops Food Policy Council member, created a beautiful and very intriguing display all about Goji Berries. I stopped by and Erin told me all about how a variety of the berry (widely publicized as one of the more recent ‘superfoods’) grows right here in Kamloops near the Chinese cemetery, so it may have been the first seed ever to have been ‘shared’ in Kamloops by Asian immigrants. Erin was also full of all kinds of cool knowledge about the growth and history of the city and its Asian population dating back to many years ago. Thanks Erin!
Elizabeth DeVries of KamloopsParents.com, along with volunteers, was running a kids’ area at the event. Sponsored by Simply Computing, Purity Feed, Nature’s Fare, and Mumm’s sprouting seeds, the crew at the kids’ area had a great time helping families decorate and build their own sprouters to take home.
Our co-chair Laura Kalina stands with Elaine Sedgman of the Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners (and KFPC!) at Elaine’s booth where she shared her vast knowledge about planting for pollinators. (To hear both Laura and Elaine give talks about Kamloops and Public Produce, join us on Thursday March 1st at our Annual General Meeting.. More info here!)
All in all, my first-ever Seedy Saturday experience was one of an extremely successful event that never saw a dull moment. The energy and enthusiasm for local food production filled the room, charged the atmosphere, and proved that Kamloops’ food production community is blooming, blossoming, growing and thriving as much as all of our gardens will be, come the warm spring weather.
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