Good seed is the foundation of a good crop. Seed that is properly selected for a specific region or soil type and maintained well, will enhance the seeds resilience and productivity. Over time plants that no one thought could be major crops in certain areas become better adapted. For example tomatoes weren’t always easy crops to grow in Canada! The Alacrity Tomato was one of the first varieties to make the Tomato a popular, accessible crop in Canada!
Plant biodiversity allows us to develop plants that can handle extremes or adapt to adverse, changing conditions. Over the 20th century 75% percent of our cultivated vegetable varieties went extinct. Who knows what genes in our vegetable varieties could have been used in modern breeding trials to resist disease, shorten seasons, or increase yields!
As such, Just Food believes it is important that a extensive culture of seed saving be wholly revitalized in eastern Ontario. For millennia seeds have been saved, altered, and adapted for local use resulting in seed that is suitable for our growing conditions. Today, while there are local seed growers, most vegetable & grain seed planted in the Ottawa region comes from other regions.
Individuals can contribute to the preservation & enhancement of vegetable & grain cultivated varieties by practicing seed saving. All types & sizes of growers can save seeds & consequently enhance & preserve our agricultural heritage!
Just Food works on two Seed Projects in Ottawa & region:
Each of these projects play a different roles in the seed system, but are both very important to a local food economy.
The Regional Seed Program strives to enhance seed saving skills through educational workshops, trials, and grower-led breeding projects. Trial results and germaplasm will be stored and cataloged for future use. Skilled backyard growers may also find a home in this program.
The Ottawa Seed Library is primarily for backyard & community gardeners to get their start on seed saving. Gardeners can borrow seeds from the library and return seeds at the end of the year to ensure that others can practice as well. Best of all these seeds are access for free! The Seed Library is a community program – that means you have a place in the Seed Library that suits your needs!