The Evolution of a Seed Strategy for BC
Building on gatherings at the 2005 and 2006 COABC AGMs; a seed growers conference in February 2006 in Victoria; a number of plant-breeding workshops; and a survey of several seed growers, a small group of us (see bios below) have been working as an informal steering committee to help build capacity for the production and quality of Certified Organic seed in British Columbia.
To this end we have done a first draft of a possible Mandate and Strategies (below). We believe the best outcomes will be achieved by embracing the maximum involvement and collective wisdom of all those already growing seed as well as those aspiring to grow seed.
One of the tools we are using to gather this wisdom from farmers and seed growers is through a comprehensive seed-growing survey that will be distributed to all BC Certified Organic Farmers and other organic farmers and seed growers. This information will be used to create some baseline data about the current state of Certified Organic seed capacity in BC.
We are also currently working on developing a comprehensive seed database to provide more information about the availability of Certified Organic seeds, and a manual that seed growers can use to improve their financial viability.
Towards a Mandate:
- To support BC farmers to grow more and better quality Certified Organic seed
- To develop and promote seed growing methods that are economically viable, increase genetic diversity, and thereby foster local sustainable agriculture
- To educate seed growers and farmers about effective plant breeding and seed saving techniques
- To establish contacts with Canadian and bioregional organic seed growers
- To stay informed on issues and developments affecting seed democracy
- To build national and international partnerships with those furthering similar goals
- To educate the public of the importance of seed quality and democracy
- To foster a network of BC organic seed growers
- To develop an informative, educational, and easy to navigate website
- To determine our existing BC organic seed growing capacity, seed inventories, and the needs of BC organic farmers
- To develop a database serving BC organic seed growers and farmers
- To articulate best practices guidelines for Certified Organic seed production
- To support and develop seed distribution networks
- To develop equipment and cleaning strategies for collective post-harvest treatment and handling
- To organize workshops and distribute information (e.g. link with Canadian Organic Growers' research library) to organic seed growers, organic farmers, and consumers
Patrick Steiner, long time seed grower and owner/operator of Stellar Seeds, lives and works in Salmon Arm. Patrick is also currently researching and writing "Organic Seed Production: a Support Manual for Business Planning" which will be available online. The projected completion date is Feb 2007. He is a board member of USC Canada and will be attending a global gathering of seed-savers and activists in Ethiopia the first two weeks of November 2006.
Heather Pritchard is the Farm Program Manager for Farm Folk/City Folk, a long time food activist and co-founder/farmer with Glorious Organics Co-op in the Fraser Valley. She is the grand daughter of H. G. Neufeld, who has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame for his work as a plant breeder in the early development of canola seed.
Susan Davidson, of Glorious Organics Co-op, is a farmer and passionate eater of all things local. She was a founding member of BCARA (B. C. Association of Regenerative Agriculture), which is one of the local organic certifying bodies. Based on many years of experience with Community Alternatives Society and consensus decision-making, she helped found Glen Valley Organic Farm Co-op. She has been active with Your Local Farmers Markets Society for ten years and is a member of Langley Organic Growers who vend at the Trout Lake Market.