Reflections on the 2014 BC Seed Gathering

by admin on November 24, 2014

“…then I was gifted with disease resistant scions (of an apple tree)…and now, there’s the chore for, well, the rest of my life”
“I was sitting there in the sunshine doing the most wonderful thing I could imagine”
“there it was— the green seed I thought I’d lost…I was in ecstasy!”
“…I was just smitten with that crop..”

These are some excerpts of the stories that were shared on the panel of elders (including our community’s Dan Jason, Mary Alice Johnson, Barb and Lorne Ebell among others) that started off the 2nd Bi-Annual BC Seeds Gathering.  Robin, Rachel and myself, Lisa, headed to the conference this past weekend and I think we all felt really impressed and inspired by all of the wonderful seed folks we met and re-connected with. Hopefully these excerpts show the enthusiasm and love that is so apparent with the stories they told – they left me feeling grateful for the efforts made so far in this seed movement and how important it is to continue the work.

We also learned that thanks to a lot of hard work from a dedicated steering committee, a BC seed producers’ co-op has now been formally established since the last gathering! What an accomplishment! This co-op will help seed producers co-operate in a way that will combine efforts and allow for more regional seed exchange and we are really looking forward to shaping and being apart of this group.

Throughout the weekend I also heard stories of struggle.  So far, very few people (us included) have figured out how we make this work of saving diversity of seeds at the small-scale farm level, financially sustainable.  We are all committed to strengthening our community seed security (and therefore food security), yet we lack a lot of resources that would enable us to make it financially viable. We are so dependent on community support and we really want to get the message out there about how important it is to buy from local farmers and propagate organically grown climate-adapted seeds in our communities! The success of Seedy Saturdays and emerging seed libraries have shown there is support out there and we can only hope it grows and grows…

We went to workshops about seed quality assurance, seed breeding, fine-tuning seed cleaning with some innovative machinery and most importantly got a lot of chances to talk with other seed growers. Also, something called the Bauta Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, facilitated through USC Canada, has been a helpful funding partner for a lot of seed growers and we will continue to be involved in that initiative.

All of us that have worked with seeds really sense and feel the value of these tiny little things, which goes beyond any sort of economic value. A gust of wind or some moisture at the wrong time/place can make you lose a good chunk of your crop.  Seeds are vulnerable.  But they are also amazingly resilient, adaptive and can be so abundant!!  Sinking your hands into a bucket full of freshly cleaned seed makes you feel rich!!  We want to go forward with this sense of abundance, trust that the plants will keep providing these gifts of seeds and they will enable us to act as stewards and protectors of the biodiversity that is so important on our farms.

Lisa cleaning cilantro seeds with "Sucky" the air forced column cleaner Lisa cleaning cilantro seeds with “Sucky” the air forced column cleaner

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