Join us for our fourth year of the Citizen Seed Trial! The Citizen Seed Trial is a complement to the BC Seed Trials, a collaboration between FFCF and the University of British Columbia, that is working with farmers to identify the best performing varieties of important vegetable and seed crops.

We’ve adapted that model for community participation with the aim of bringing growers of all scales into the seed conversation. This is a seed trial that can be done in a small space, with a low time commitment. It is ideal for beginner seed savers and backyard (or balcony) gardeners. The 2017 program focused on lettuce, and 2018 focused on cherry tomatoes – each with 4 varieties to trial and track. 2019 was a tomato adaptation trial, focusing on adaptation across different climates. The trial consisted of one tomato variety sourced from 4 different seed companies across North America (including BC). Participants were walked through planting, care, observations, and data collection via email updates and social media. Later in the season, we shared seed saving information so participants could take their crops from seed-to-seed. For more 2019 trial information, visit the 2019 Adaptation Trial page.

For the 2020 Citizen Seed Trial the focus is on diverse breeding populations. We are trialling watermelon, kale and tomato. Participants will grow 2 varieties of the crop they sign up for, choosing to grow 1, 2 or 3 crops. One variety will be an un-finished breeding variety and will be compared to an established variety (the control).

Trialling a free pollinating (no hand pollinating) cross of 22 varieties grown by Manish Kushwaha of Gaia Organics

Comparing to the Blacktail Mountain short season/ice box variety

Trialling Winter Rainbow Lacinato (Lacinato X Redbor) – Curly edges, red veins, purple leaves, blue-green leaves; cold hardy, reluctance to bolt and productive.

Comparing to Dazzling Blue – This stunning new blue kale comes from Hank Keogh’s inspiration to backcross a ‘Rainbow Lacinato’ variant with its ‘WGS Lacinato’ ancestor. Dazzling blue-green savoyed strap leaf with underturned margins, upright growth, and a striking pink midrib. Eye-catching at the market, and the flavor is “very lacinato.”

Trialling a breeding cross from the Teensy family (Mexico Midget X Summertime Green) which is an intermediate pimp. tiny cherry with a 1 pound green flesh dwarf.

Comparing it to the Soliel Orange Cherry Tomato – intermediate, tangy, sweet and not prone to splitting.


A large focus of the education component this year will be engaging participants in learning about the importance of the selection process, how to select, when to select and what to select for.

Participating in the 2020 Citizen Seed Trial is a great way to learn more about seed growing, indulge your inner scientist and be a part of the growing BC seed community!

As of March 24th 2020, we have closed sign-ups to receive seeds and grow the trial. However, with a large focus on education this year we still encourage sign-ups and these participants can follow along with the trial by observing growing of others, learning through the publications and emails we will share and participate in the webinars on seed growing and breeding we will host.

Sign up below to participate. Please note you will be subscribed to regular Citizen Seed Trial emails as well as our monthly BC Seed Grower newsletter upon registration. You can opt out of either at anytime by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of each email.

  • Consider joining the Citizen Seed Trial Facebook group to share experiences and ask questions!
  • Have you missed an email or are curious about what we share in email communication – check them out here:
    • March 19, 2020
      • What is a variety trial, keep an eye out for SeedLinked emails and resources
    • April 7, 2020 
      • Variables and constants, crop types and seed varieties, evaluation criteria (honed in on germination), resources on growing, thank you sponsors
    • April 18, 2020
      • Follower vs. participant in the 2020 trials
    • May 26, 2020
      • Webinar with Craig LeHoullier, CST blog links, info on saving for the CST crops
    • June 14, 2020
      • Invitations to the webinar with Craig, Summer Solstice party and links to the CST blog
    • June 25, 2020
      • How to rate vigour, what is vigour, how to enter data on SeedLinked, webinar recording link

Sign Up for the 2020 Citizen Seed Trial

Please note sign ups received after March 24th 2020 will be signed up to follow along with the trial, attend webinars and learn from the trial. These sign ups will not receive seed to grow. Please join the Citizen Seed Trial group on Facebook and sign up for 2021 in January and February.