In 2013, FarmFolk CityFolk, with one season of funding from the Organic Sector Development Program, and the cooperation of four BC organic farmers, began a participatory-research project to study carrot seed production. In 2014, the University of Manitoba joined the project as a funder and remains an important partner.
The long-term objectives of this project are to
- Increase the viability of growing organic and ecologically-grown carrot seed in high-tunnel isolation structures. This approach is meant to eliminate cross-pollination with Queen Anne’s Lace.
- In addition to addressing the reality of cross-pollination with Queen Anne’s Lace in British Columbia, 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.
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.
As a participatory research project, farmers play a key role in project success. We are working with three farms this year – Jen Cody and Craig Evans in Nanaimo, who have been with the project since year 1; Kristjan Johannson in Richmond at the Sharing Farm, who joined the project in 2016; and Chris Thoreau from FarmFolk CityFolk will be managing the third site at UBC Farm for the 2017 season. Past participants include Mojave Kaplan from Planting Seeds Project in Lytton; Patrick Steiner from Kootenay Joe Farm in Kaslo; and Sue Moore of Notch Hill Farm in Sorrento.
For up-to-the-minute info on the project check out our blog here!.
For more details about the project read below:
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.