David Catzel

Slow food. Slow Seeds.

I love visiting farms – especially Glorious Organics Cooperative and BC Coop Seeds farm located in beautiful Aldergrove, BC. It’s a great place to be, get inspired, breath and learn! Shortly after arriving at the farm I was able to observe and participate in real farm-life experiences within a matter of seconds. I met up with my mentor David Catzel just past the first field from the lane-way. There he was wrangling up an ill sheep and sending her off to a local vet to to find out what was the matter with her.

Alongside David was his brother with baby in tow,  and I myself with a five and 1 ½ half year old. The day was going to be filled with great conversation shared with some real farm life experiences and values (as always on a farm). Once the sheep was on her way to finding health we headed back to the wash station where vegetables were getting cleaned up for market and restaurants. We then got into full swing of observing and talking about saving radish seeds. This was especially interesting because the harvested radishes being cleaned, were both from purchased seed and saved seed from the farm from the precious year. We observed the genetics and talked in great detail about saving radishes, their traits and how they can even cross with wild radishes. The harvested radish crop was beautiful and were being sent out for market. I might add that they were crisp, juicy, super flavourful and packed just enough heat – making you want more!

I actually had planned and thought this year I would be able to save radish seeds for sure…they all bolted really early. By suggestion of my mentor I will be saving them for the pods for salads, I still might like to save some seeds and test them next year to see if they actually produce or not. He also let me know it wasn’t anything I did and perhaps it was actually the seeds I used and to contact my supplier. And here I was thinking fail!

I have now known David Catzel for some time through the Fraser Valley Permaculture Guild. I have been to a few of his saving seeds presentations and always come back with excitement and energized to start saving more seeds and learn more about them! Before long it was lunch time and the cooperative in permaculture/community style had planned for a potluck lunch. We learned all about the farm and met all the wonderful people that work and live there. Thank goodness we brought a jar of lacto-fermented garlic carrots to share, because the spread was amazing! It really was a lovely meal and had some great conversations.

After touring the farm and learning all about the different types of seeds they were saving on the farm you could start to see flags quite easily in the rows marking out the designated seed saving area – one flag at the beginning of the row and one at the end. It was amazing and I wish I wrote down all the varieties they were trying to save. It is also important to note, that it doesn’t always work out as planned, plants don’t make it, environmental issues arise, wild life etc…like permaculture it is important to just try.

It is crucial in understanding how important it is to save seed, and to understand if the variety of the saved seed produces the genetics and traits desired. I learned it is different for the backyard gardener and for larger scale seed savers. The large seed saving grower goes through great detail to ensure quality seed is being sold. I think the (ROI) value doesn’t seem to make sense when you think they have to grow a crop, save the seed, take a whole other season to test it and then save it again before you might even be able to release the seeds to market for sale.

We always here about slow food, but what it really takes to make it are slow seeds!

Slow seeds, slow food.