It’s a new year. You have made a plan, you know how much space you have for each variety of plant, and how many times you will plant each crop during the growing season. Now, you need seeds, and: 

  1. you are growing to sell certified organic food;
  2. you are growing on land that has certified organic status; or
  3. you are growing on community land, and have agreed to use organic practices. 

How do you find the seeds that you need?
Here are the steps that certified organic producers follow.

1. Searching for certified organic seed

Most vegetable producers, because of their scale of operation, rely on others to produce their seed each year.

The first step is to find trusted, certified organic seed suppliers. And the simplest way to do this is to find up-to-date online directories of organic seed suppliers in your region. For a comprehensive list of seed vendors and directories, check this page:

If you are producing for the purposes of organic certification, you are expected to look for certified organic seed first, in all cases

2. Document your search

If you cannot find a certified organic seed that meets your needs, you will be expected to produce a record of this search, with at least two unsuccessful attempts documented. You will also be expected to justify why you need this specific variety to meet your production plan (e.g. maturity rate, quantity).

Take the time to document your search. Look carefully at the ‘days to maturity’, the quantity of seed available, and the variety characteristics to be sure that the seeds match your production schedule and the market that you are hoping to fill. 

Keep a record (screen shot, email correspondence, call records) of your search. Which certified organic seed producers did you visit, on which date? If they do not have the seed that you are looking for, do they have a certified organic equivalent?

For any non-organic seed that you purchase, you will need documentation from the supplier to ensure that the seed is non-GMO and untreated.

3. Keep a record of your purchases and supporting documentation

a) You will be expected to keep all receipts, labels and packets from purchased seeds for five years.

b) You will also be expected to produce a seed search affidavit—a form documenting your search—for all non-organic seed purchased, as well as an affidavit from the supplier stating that the seed is non-GMO and not treated. Many seed vendors have this on their website for you to download. Over the years you will find this task less daunting—as every year you will add to the number of affidavits on file for your suppliers, and you will only need to collect for new suppliers.

c) Keep the records for your non-organic purchases separate so that they can quickly be accessed during inspection.

Happy seeding!