We are excited about our newest seed program, the Citizen Seed Trial, that launched this spring. We’ve shared a lot of the detail of the program already, but this is a chance to share with you what has made this project so cool for us on a personal and program level.
The vision was to provide a gardener-scale version of our BC Seed Trials where we work with farmers to plant and evaluate vegetable variety trials — picture 30+ varieties of leeks planted side-by-side so farmers can see which grow best in their conditions and in that season’s weather pattern (cold spring, drought summer, snowy winter or whatever crazy variations climate change throws at us).
We have largely focused our recent efforts in the BC Seeds program on working with farmers, both seed and vegetable growers, as we look for the best ways to support increased skill and more production of ecologically-grown, local seed. But gardeners, the end-users of much seed and important advocates, are a critical part of the seed system conversation so we were delighted when Vancity Credit Union agreed to fund some of our BC Seeds work, including this new public-focused project.
As we planned out what the first Citizen Seed Trial would look like we got excited about the possibilities. We included seed from BC seed growers, Glorious Organics and Full Circle Seeds, who both sell through the BC Eco Seed Coop (a farmer-owned cooperative who we promote and work with whenever we can). We added seed from legendary farmer-breeder Frank Morton from Wild Garden Seeds in Oregon to showcase how traditional breeding techniques continue to be used to develop new vegetable varieties. And we included seed from Westcoast Seeds as an example of a commercial source of seed that should have dependable germination to compare against.
And then we came to the stage of the public launch, which meant a chance to reach out to Seedy Saturday organizers across the province and put a call out through our social media network. That was the best part. People were so enthusiastic! They loved the idea of a Citizen Seed Trial where the simple act of providing a few seeds and a little guidance could transform hundreds of gardeners into seed researchers and seed growers! Hello, positive engagement.
The last days of March are quickly rolling by and together with our Seedy Saturday partners and other seed educators we have now distributed 250 trial packs to keen gardeners across many parts of the province. Next month we’ll all start planting our seeds and begin a journey together of citizen science, discovery and a whole lot of tasty salads!
We’ll keep you posted here with more updates from this project in seed and community. Look for participant posts across social media with the tag #CitizenSeed.