Updated: Dec 30, 2020
We've started our process of planning our crops for 2021. This year is a bit different for us, because we've set ourselves up with a new challenge:
To honour our business's values of having a small ecological footprint, supporting other local businesses, and reducing our dependancy on long supply chains, we've decided to sow only open pollinated, organic or ecologically grown seeds from farmer-owned companies in the Cascadia Region: British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.
Luckily for us, there are a number of excellent companies to choose from in this niche category. I'll list them at the end of this post for anyone who is inspired to join us in local seed this season.
We know that many of our customers to shop with us because it feels like a positive social and ecological choice. We are so happy to provide our community with the option to choose local, pesticide & herbicide-free foods. As much as we try to keep our prices fair for ourselves and our customers, sometimes buying organic and local can come with a larger price tag. It is so encouraging to know that people feel like our products are worth the extra cost.
As a business, we make consumer choices too. Our tools and equipment, the products and packaging we use all come with their own ecological and ethical impacts. One of the places that our choices can make a positive impact comes from where we procure our seeds. Seed growing represents another form of farming and land use that can be done either destructively or harmoniously with nature. Often, the seeds we purchase from medium-large sized companies are grown in far away places, in a monocultural style, with degradative soil practices. I am increasingly feeling that in order for us to advertise ourselves as a truly low-impact choice, we need to consider the impact attached to the growing of our seeds.
We have been producing our own seeds for some of the crops we grow for market for years, but we've still relied heavily on hybrid varieties from large seed companies. We've never planted anything GMO, but non-organic seed production may well contribute to the use of herbicide and pesticides on the landscape. This year, we are selecting seed varieties that are grown on smaller-scale farms, by people who share our values, and who are passionate about selecting crops for our climate.
In farming, there is a lot of pressure to grow only the most productive and uniform hybrid varieties, and to ignore heirloom varieties. As we've improved our skills in farming, we've seen that open pollinated varieties can exceed expectations when the soil is healthy and our growing techniques are sound. We've also seen that there is a craft to seed growing that small scale growers can master: harvesting seed at the correct maturity, selecting for the traits we care about, and adapting varieties to our specific conditions. This attention to detail means that time and again, homegrown seeds are meeting or exceeding our expectations for their performance. That is why at this point in our career we feel comfortable making this leap.
So many things excite me about this new path we've decided on, but one of the most delightful is the idea of firming up the support for small-scale seed growers. As fresh market farmers, we have enjoyed such an incredible response from people who want to buy and support local. We feel the same way about our regional seed companies. What they provide is a value beyond the difference in the cost of seed. I love that we are in the position to make more connections in our community, creating a flow of prosperity which feels so healthy and positive.
Here's a list of the seed companies we plan to support in 2021:
The BC EcoSeed Co-operative combines the forces of several British Columbian seed growers, many of whom have their own online shops:
Amara Farm - Courtney, BC
Diggers Farm - Chilliwak, BC
Dragonfly Seeds - Sechelt, BC
Full Circle Seeds - Sooke, BC
Glorious Organics Co-op - Aldergrove, BC
Good Earth Farms - Black Creek, BC
Growing Opportunities Farm Community Cooperative - Nanaimo, BC
Heavenly Roots Farm - Salt Spring Island, BC
Hummingbird Farm - Winlaw, BC
Linnaea Farm - Manson's Landing, BC
Mount Joan Farm - Port Alberni, BC
Merville Organics - Comox Valley, BC
Pitchfork Organic Farm
Planting Seeds Project - Lytton, BC
Sweet Digz Farm - Steveston, BC
Sweet Rock Farm - Gabriola, BC
UBC Farm - Vancouver, BC
Urban Micro - Vancouver, BC
WoodGrain Farm - Hazelton, BC