What’s the big deal about seeds?
Seeds are the foundation of our food system. Understanding their importance is crucial, especially with the climate crisis at our doorstep. Maintaining variety in our seed supply can protect our food system. A wide range of plant species means a greater variety of crops. The problem is that we are losing seed varieties. Over the last 100 years, 75% of food crop varieties have become extinct.
Biodiversity means an ecosystem has variety of life within it, which boosts productivity. Each species, no matter how small, has an important role to play. The diversity of plants and animals makes living things adaptable. It allows wild and domesticated species to withstand threats like diseases, climate changes like high precipitation or drought, pests, and other unpredictable conditions. With enough variation in a group, there will always be those that will survive and thrive under any changing situation.
Food biodiversity is a key ingredient in creating a secure and sustainable food system. No matter what changes happen in our food system, we will always be able to adapt if we have enough genetic diversity.
Where to get seeds
Many Canadian (and even some local!) seed companies prioritize the preservation of heirloom and organic seed varieties suitable for our Canadian climate, which helps maintain seed diversity. We’ve listed a few below.
Three Forks Farm – Warren ON
Piebird Farm Sanctuary – Nipissing, ON
Bonfield Seed Library – Bonfield, ON
When to plant seeds
Not sure what to start when, or which seeds should be started indoors or outdoors? Here are a few web links to help get you started.
Planting Calendar for North Bay Area, Ontario – Farmer’s Almanac
Climate zones and and planting dates for vegetables in Ontario – OMAFRA
Start seed indoors: How and when to start seeds – Old Farmer’s Almanac
When to start seeds indoors and how to start the process – Country Living
5 tips for starting seeds inside – Mother Earth News
Common mistakes when growing seeds indoors – The Spruce
Save your own seeds!
Seed saving is rewarding in many ways. It can save money, it helps preserve your favourite vegetable or flower variety and helps connect people to our food system in a meaningful way. Here are a few links to learn more about saving your own seeds.
Seed Savers Exchange – How to Save Seeds
Modern Farmer – Seed Saving 101: 10 Things to know if you want to start saving seeds
The Old Farmers Almanac – How to Save Vegetable Seeds: Seed Saving Guide
Seed exchange events
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many 2020 seed exchange events had to be cancelled. These events are typically popular across Canada. Usually held in late winter or early spring, they draw people who are interested in growing and learning about gardening and growing food. They celebrate spring and provide an opportunity for folks to gather, get excited about the growing season and support seed diversity by providing an opportunity for local growers to swap regionally-adapted seeds. They are also a venue to talk to expert gardeners and get some inspiration for your own garden! For seed exchange events to continue, we need people to garden and join the seed saving movement!
Seeds of Diversity promotes seed exchange events happening across Canada.