biodiversity conservation

We want to know what varieties will grow a great seed crop in organic settings, in different regions and climates. Join over a hundred Canadian farmers who are helping us grow out seed!

The Seed Grow-out Program is designed to help farmers observe and experiment with different varieties of crops in different environments, support them in bulking up quantities of desired seed varieties, and share their findings across the country. Through this project, over 100 Canadian farmers have contributed over 300 unique seed samples to national and regional seed collections in Canada.

This is how it works:

01. Source seed.

Growers can source their own seed for this program provided it is (1) ecologically grown, (2) non-proprietary, (3) open-pollinated, and (4) not available commercially in bulk quantities. Ideally, we want farmers to use seed that will likely grow well in their region, sourced from ecologically managed farms. Depending on which region you are growing, there are different lists of crops that are suitable for this project. Please contact your Regional Coordinator, for a list of varieties in demand for your region.

02. Grow seed.

Good quality seed comes from good growing practices. All seed grown as part of this program is grown under commercial quality guidelines for minimum population and isolation distance. Consult those standards here. Participating growers are encouraged to attend local training events, workshops, field days, and webinars. Please contact your Regional Coordinator for information about what training activities are available.

03. Record crop observations.

All of the Crop Observation Forms are available for download here. They can be printed and sent in as hard copies at the end of the season, or you can enter your observations online directly. The forms ask for standardized crop information and demand a certain attention to detail to your seed crop. Crop observations are ultimately entered into a national database managed by Seeds of Diversity so that others can learn from the observations each grower made about the varieties grown as part of this program.

We recognize that participation in this program requires a farmer’s time and attention. In order to support farmers in growing good seed, there is a per variety honorarium available to participating growers. Please contact your Regional Coordinator for more information.

04. Save seed.

Farmers get to keep most of the seed generated as part of this program. We want farmers to have seed for use on their own farms, to share with their community, donate to community seed projects, or sell to other farmers and local seed companies.

05. Send a sample to a seed bank near you.

Some seed from each crop is sent back to Seeds of Diversity Canada for safe storage and further distribution as part of a regional or national seed collection. The quantities of how much seed to send for each crop are listed here. A bad year or a crop failure can happen any time and, in this case, arrangements will be made between growers and their Regional Coordinators.

Seeds and forms should be sent to: Seeds of Diversity Canada, 1-12 Dupont ST. West, Waterloo, ON, N2L 2X6. For growers in Atlantic Canada only, please send seed and forms to: Steph Hughes, ACORN, PO Box 6343, Sackville, NB, E4L 1G6.

For more information, please contact the Regional Coordinator for your area.

Record Your Own Crop Descriptions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Vegetable variety trials assess how different varieties perform compared to others on indicators such as yield, flavor, disease resistance, etc. By comparison, our Seed Grow-out Program helps growers assess how well different varieties produce good quality seed in diverse growing environments across Canada.

For field crops, farmers make observations about varieties currently available in small quantities to see if they have interesting attributes and could be included in organic breeding and/or selection programs.

As part of the Ontario Vegetable Seed Producers’ Network, we developed a limited number of forms/factsheets for this purpose, based on what varieties were most popular for that group of growers. The forms are available for general use. See here for a full list.