The Regional Seed Program

Just Food will be establishing a regional seed bank at the Just Food Farm in collaboration with Seeds of Diversity, USC Canada, the Bauta Initiative on Seed Security, and area growers.

A focus of this program is to strengthen seed saving skills among producers in the Ottawa region, as well as widen the volunteer based of skilled growers and record keepers involved in collaborative seed saving.

As part of this project, educational workshops, vegetable & grain seeds, and skill support will be provided to interested growers each. Just Food will also coordinate varietal improvement projects & trials aimed at enhancing specific varieties for stronger performance in eastern Ontario – with the intent of producing varieties that will work for Market producers.

Regional seed banks are crucial to the preservation and development of regionally adapted seeds.  By selecting and saving seed grown in the Ottawa region we maintain access to regionally adapted varieties and genetic material.

Get Involved

The Regional Seed Program has many ways to get involved!  Below are a few options

Also be sure to check out the Good Food Link events calendar for more information on upcoming seedy events.

Vegetable Seed Producers Network Varieties

The Vegetable Seed Producers Network is a program organized by Seeds of Diversity and The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. The programs serves two functions:

  • To produce vegetable and specialty crop seeds according to industry best practices, which will then be pooled for bulk-scale supply to vegetable farmers, gardeners, and other growers, and
  • To ensure that our seed collection remains viable and of the highest quality possible, by continually supplying fresh seeds to replenish seed stocks as required.

Ottawa regional growers can access vegetable varieties to grow out for seed this season.  Just Food has accessed surplus amounts of the easier vegetables that new growers can easily have success with.

Each one of these three varieties, done properly, will net the grower $100.00 at the end of the season, upon returning seeds to Just Food, for a maximum of a $300.00 stipend.

We are providing support for three vegetables that are good for beginners – Jester Lettuce, Hubert’s Pink Tomato, & Rainbow Tatsoi (brassica rapa).  Growers in the Ottawa region will send their seeds back to us at Just Food as initial contributions to the Just Food Regional Seed Bank.

For more information on the Vegetable Seed Producers Network please navigate here.

To access one of the three varieties found below, or to be involved in future years, please email

Lettuce, Jester (lactuca sativa)

Open Source Seed Initiative Variety. Bred by Frank Morton crossing Reine de Glaces, Merlot, and Flashy Troutback. Crisp little heads of flashy, red spackled, semi-savoyed leaves are crunchy and juicy. The variety does not head up quite like a crisphead, but instead develops tiny pink hearts in the centre. This strain has been adapted by Kim Delaney at Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds. There is also a good degree of variation in this variety, making it an excellent selection project for growers.

*Ideal variety for growers looking to improve their selection skills.

Requires minimum 20 plants, 8 meters from other flowering lettuces,  DTM: 60 (food)

Tatsoi, Rainbow (brassica rapa)

A breeding project by Dan Brisebois of Tourne-Sol Co-operative Farm, Dan has been working on this popular spoon shaped Asian-green for several generations. Like your typical tatsoi – fast growing, tender and mild as a cooking green and slightly spicy when fresh, but with shades of green and purple.

*Ideal variety for growers looking to improve their selection skills.

Requires minimum 80 plants, 1500 Meters from other flowering Brassica Rapas, DTM 40 (full, food)

Tomato, Hubert’s Pink (Lycopersicon Escelentum)

Originally bred by the late Hubert Zipperlin at Camphill Kimberton Hills in southeast Pennsylvania. This tomato has Brandywine in its parentage, but is much smaller in size. The plant is indeterminate, the fruit is medium and sometimes a bit blocky, with the distinctive pink of Brandywine, but no potato-type leaves. This is another great variety, adapted and improved by Cory Eichman of Saugeen River CSA, who has been selecting for disease resistance, size, and shape since 1997.

*Ideal variety for growers looking to improve their selection skills.

Requires minimum 20 plants, 15 meters from other tomatoes, DTM not available

Regional Vegetable Selection Process

Interested growers can participate in one of our selection projects!

Greta Kryger (Greta’s Organic Gardens) & Telsing Andrew (Aster Lane Edibles) are partnering up with Just Food for two farmer-led selection projects.  One for an early Red Pepper & the other for a Downy Mildew Resistant Cucumber Variety.

Each variety is in it’s early stages & has a lot of variation in their growth, various sizes, shapes, and flavours.  Over the next 5 years we will be working with area growers to select these varieties with their desired traits into marketable varieties.

Over time the Ottawa Community Red Pepper & The Ottawa Community Cucumber will develop into regional varieties selected by growers for growers.

Malting Barley Trials in Eastern Ontario

Are you interested in growing a test plot of malting barley this year? The Regional Seed Bank, in collaboration with the EFAO Farmer-led-research program, would like to test the growing conditions and potential for success of malt barley in multiple areas, microclimates and soils of eastern Ontario. To participate, please contact

Participatory Plant Breeding Project

Are you interested in assisting with the development of new varieties of wheat, oats, or potatoes?

If so you will be able to access seed for these field crops through this wing of the program.

Public participatory Plant Breeding programs are where growers can contribute to the development of brand new varieties, through an ongoing practise, that adapt to your site & soil conditions. These crops reflect your needs!

Please contact if you are interested in participating in the PPB program on wheat, oats, or potatoes.


Start-up Farm Program

Just Food established the Start-Up Farm Program to support new farmers in the Ottawa region. By offering access to land, shared infrastructure/equipment, and training, the program aims to enable more people in this region to start their own successful farm business.

> Read More about Just Food’s Start-up Farm program