In 2011 USC Canada, in partnership with Seeds of Diversity Canada, received funding for a pilot year, beginning in 2013, to explore the state of seed security nationally. The initiative, named the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, works to develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to ecological seed production, distribution and conservation in Canada.
The long-term objectives of this 4-year project are, broadly, to increase the viability of growing organic and ecologically grown carrot seed in high tunnel isolation structures. In addition to addressing the reality of cross-pollination with Queen Anne’s Lace, the outcomes generated by this research will also point to best practices in increasing the yield of regionally adapted seed through the potential of growing out multiple carrot varieties without crossing.
Arising from new research, conferences, roundtables and countless conversations in the field, BC Seeds, a project of FarmFolk CityFolk, set out in 2013 to explore how to increase quantity and quality of one major vegetable crop in BC.
Carrots (Daucus carota) were identified as a key crop in both their market and seed operations. That said, carrots are one of the more complex seed crops to produce. First, the crop is a biennial that requires two years to grow out and specific overwintering storage requirements. Secondly, domesticated carrot will readily cross with Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota var. carota), a progressively common weed in British Columbia. Complete isolation between the wild and domesticated varieties is necessary to produce true-to-type seed.
Included in this report is an overview of the carrot physiology as well as a concise outline of growing carrots for seed. Anecdotes from the growing season are woven throughout the report to offer further detail. Data was collected from the four participating farms and analyzed to provide documentation and insight as this project steps into its second year. Limitations and barriers are briefly discussed. The report is concluded by a summary on-farm learning, including future amendments to methodology, seed weight, design and pollinator introduction.