Category Archives: Seed Growers

ACORN hosting 2016 ECOSGN seed conference

The third biennial ECOSGN (Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network) Seed Conference is coming!

This year ECOSGN has teamed up with ACORN (the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network) to have the ECOSGN conference at the ACORN fall conference.


The Details

Where: Moncton, NB at the Delta Beauséjour

When: November 28–30, 2016

How to register: Click here to register before November 18

This is a bilingual event with sessions in English translated to French and sessions in French translated in English

Seedy Sessions

Pre-conference seed kick-off

Day 1 Seed Perspective Plenary

Day 1 sessions

I’ll be speaking on day 1 about Cover Crops & Rotations in Seed Production.

Day 2 sessions

Day 3 seed swap


The Rest of The Conference Will Also Be Awesome

In addition to the the seed stream, there are 3 other farming streams on Day 1 & 2. And on day 3, though there are no seed streams (beyond a seed swap) there are still 4 farming streams. Here’s the program for the whole ACORN conference

Emily will also be speaking at the conference in the following sessions: Post Harvest Handling at Tourne-sol Farm & Opening Plenary: The Changing Face of Farming

Go And Register!

You can register here The deadline to register is November 18.



Organic Seed Growers Conference Webinars

Below is the official information for 6 webinars broadcast from OSA’s Organic Seed Growers Conference.
I am one of the speakers in Seed Economics: How to Make Growing and Selling Seed More Profitable.
If you’re interested in listening, make sure to register for the webinars!

The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is hosting their 8th biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis Program from February 4 – 6, 2016. While there is a great contingency of BC and Canadian growers attending the 2016 conference not everybody can make the trip.

We are happy to announce that OSA, in partnership with eOrganic, will be offering a number of the conference workshops via webinar!

You can register for the webinars here.

Below is a quick list of the webinar topics and times and you can find a more detailed list here.

  • Seed Economics: How to Make Growing and Selling Seed More Profitable
    • Friday, February 5th, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM Pacific
  • Seed Equipment: On-farm Innovations
    • Friday, February 5th, 1:30 – 3:00 PM Pacific
  • Vegetable Breeding Research Updates
    • Friday, February 5th, 3:30 – 5:00 PM Pacific
  • Organic Cover Crop Seed Production
    • Saturday, February 6th, 9:00 – 10:30 AM Pacific
  • Vegetable Seed Production: Scaling up
    • Saturday, February 6th, 1:30 – 3:00 PM Pacific
  • Managing Seed Borne Disease: Brassica Black Leg and Implications for Organic Seed Producers and Industry
    • Saturday, February 6th, 3:30 – 5:00 PM Pacific

Seed Connetions 2014 Conference!

One month from today we will be in the middle of Seed Connections 2014.

If you work with seed or want to know anything about seeds, you should not miss this event. If you participated in the 2012 edition, you know what I’m talking about. If you missed the last Seed Connections, well you can read my blog post about the 2012 event.

Seed exchange 2

WHEN: Friday Nov. 7 to Sunday Nov. 9, 2014

WHERE: MacDonald Campus of McGill University in St.-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC

WHAT: ECOSGN Seed Connections is a fully bilingual event bringing together farmers, seed-savers, seed companies, community gardeners, researchers, and experts on organic seed production to share knowledge, skills, and experience over a packed, 3-day agenda!Whether you are a beginner gardener or an expert seed producer, if you are interested in ecological seed production in Canada, this is the conference to attend.

HOW: Click on the following links:

If you have any questions regarding the conference, please e-mail forward to seeing you there!

2012 BC Seeds Gathering Videos

The November 9-11, 2012 weekend was a seedy one cross Canada. I’ve already reported back about ECOSGN’s Seed Connection conference in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC. On the other side of the country the BC Seeds Network had a 3-day BC Seeds Gathering and it sounds like it was just as fantastic as the East Coast event.

Farm Folk City Folk has begun to post videos from the event on youtube. Here’s what they’ve posted so far:

Don Tipping

Don Tipping speaks about how seeds fits into his seed company Siskiyou Seeds, the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative he participates in, and on Seven Seeds Farm ( the biodynamic/permaculture farm where Don grows organic seed amidst vegetables and livestock).

Opening Plenary part 1

Suzie Walsh (USC Canada) and Patrick Steiner (Stellar Seeds) open the event integrating the BC seed picture into the Canadian and international seed picture.

Opening Plenary part 2

A number of seedy folks come up and speaks about their interest in seed.

One More Video

This video isn’t actually from the conference but it is about BC Seed Grower Dan Jason (Salt Spring Seeds) so I thought it still fits. It is also only 3 minutes.

Looking back at SEED CONNECTIONS 2012

Last weekend was a watershed moment in the Eastern Canadian organic seedscape. A hundred or so seed growers, seed savers, farmers, gardeners, seed, seed sellers, seed buyers, academics, students, NGOs, and some folks who’d never even gardened met at Seed Connections 2012 in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Frank Morton (from Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon) opened the event demonstrating where seeds come from and how we can create our own genetic future in farming.

With a slide show of the Wild Garden fields and crops, Frank illustrated all the potentials when farmers save their own seed. How with selection and some cross-pollination, farmers can dramatically adapt and improve varieties to their needs. And though farmers can do this alone, teaming up with a plant breeder can bring these varieties even further.

A number of the more experienced seed growers had come to this event specifically to hear Frank Morton and he delivered but the conference did not stop there …

Over the weekend a number of topics were covered. Some technical such as  pollinators, seedborne disease, herb and flower seed production. Others addressed seed business management. A few sessions dabbled in both.

You can hear two interviews from the Seed Connections conference on CKUT’s Ecolibrium: Rowen White about her seed work (starts at 7 min 50 sec) and Kim Fellows about pollination (starts at 25 min.)

What really impressed me was the high caliber of presentation and discussion. Experienced seed growers and established seed companies were exchanging on the nuts and bolts of seed growing, seed breeding, and seed business. And even though some participants had limited seed experience, they were still welcome to be part of the discussion and did contribute to the discussion.


Rowen White wrapped the event up speaking about the seed wisdom of the Iroquois people. Rowen is from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, curates an extensive collection of rare northeast native seeds, and is co-founder of the Sierra Seeds cooperative in California. (Rowen is also the author of Breeding Organic Vegetables – you can read my review.)

Rowen spoke about a number of different Mohawk varieties of corn and beans collected them from older members of the community, and how the cultural memory banking of these seed stories was just as important as saving the seeds.

These varieties were not always present in the Northeast. Corn first arrived 1200 years ago.  Some varieties were brought with the Tuscarora people from North Carolina in the early 1700s. And other varieties might have been from commercial catalogs at some time in the last century but have subsequently been saved in gardens.

Independent of their origin these varieties have been selected over cycles of seed saving for short season, polyculture planting, certain storage straits (such as corn braiding), disease resistance,  cold soil emergence, and different cultural connections. Rowen emphasized how this current diversity exists because farmers were willing to go in the field and mix it up. Seeds are dynamic, humans are dynamic, and the earth is dynamic.

Rowen stated that the work Frank Morton proposed is the work our agricultural ancestors have always done – adapting seeds to a place and to a people for growing characteristics, for culinary characteristics, and for aesthetics.

If you missed this event, don’t worry, we’re already planning the next Seed Connections for fall 2014 (likely in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue again). Stay tuned for more details …


Seed Connections: the 2012 ECOSGN Seed Symposium

November 9-11, 2012; Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec

SEED CONNECTIONS is the first major seed growing conference in Eastern Canada. Seed savers, farmers, gardeners, market growers and all kind of seedy people will be able to get together to  learn and talk about seed, and bring the Canadian organic seed movement further. Don’t miss the connection!

This fully bilingual event brings Canadian and American speakers from a number of Seed Companies and Organizations to share their seedy knowledge, skill, and experience with participants over three days of workshops, meals, and socializing.

Friday starts with a half-day course on the Principles of Seed Growing in a classroom setting. The afternoon shifts to Tourne-Sol cooperative farm to visit an organic seed farm and participate in an on-farm seed-cleaning workshop.

Saturday and Sunday offer two streams of seed workshops with something for everyone. The SEED BASICS stream focuses on technical seed saving and seed growing skills. The TAKING SEED TO THE NEXT LEVEL stream gets into more advanced growing topics such as on-farm breeding and also covers different aspects of growing seed for sale.

Saturday night starts with a Seeds of Diversity fundraising supper and a keynote by Frank Morton from Wild Garden Seeds.  Saturday evening culminates with a foot-stomping high-energy CONTRA DANCE with local band Ste.Anne en Gigue.


 Language: Workshops given in English or French with simultaneous translation through headsets.

When: November 9-11, 2012

Where: Centennial Center, MacDonald Campus, McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3V9. Download MAP of MacDonald Campus.

Register online at

Accommodations can be booked at the Comfort Inn Montréal Aéroport. About 15 minutes drive from MacDonald Campus. Address: 700 boul. St. Jean, Pointe-Claire, Québec, Canada H9R 3K2. Tel: 514-697-6210Call and quote “ECOSGN” for special single or double rate at $89.

Fri Nov. 9: Seed Course and On-Farm Seed Cleaning
(lunch NOT included)
Sat & Sun Nov. 10-11 Regular Fee
(includes lunch on both days)
Sat & Sun Nov. 10-11 Student Fee
(includes lunch on both days)
One day: Sat or Sun Nov. 10 or 11
(includes lunch)
Sat. Nov. 10 Seeds of Diversity fundraising supper and keynote $55

Road Trip: Seedy Folks in the Annapolis Valley

From River Hebert Em and I drove across Nova Scotia to the Annapolis Valley (by way of Halifax) to visit a couple of seed growers – Owen and Andrea.

(Our road trip started with this blog post.)

Annapolis Seeds

Owen Bridge runs Annapolis Seeds in Middleton Nova Scotia. Owen is 20 years old and he’s been growing and selling seeds for 5 years now. He’s got a bit of a head start on me.

Owen and his helper Tiffany walked us through the gardens. We stopped to look at just about every plant.

Owen has a number of seed gardens isolated one from the other by forest. This let’s him grow a number of varieties of the same species without them crossing.

Owen also grows some crops (such as these carrots) to seed in his greenhouse to provide isolation from similar crops in the field

A portion of his gardens is in mounds devoted to the three sisters (corn, squash, and beans).

The corn has germinated and if you look carefully you can see a couple of squash seedlings around the edge of the mound. At this point Owen had just seeded pole beans. In some mounds the corn was replaced with sunflowers.

When we visited in mid-June, there were quite a few crops in seed such as sorrel, rutabaga, and some overwintered kales …

… and beets, and parsnip. And some leeks about to flower too.

Of course, like most seed growers I know, Owen also grows a few less common crops.

Such as peanuts. He’s still in the process of bulking these guys up so that he can meet the demand this youtube video about Annapolis Seeds peanuts created.

And this year Owen’s growing Japanese indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) – a.k.a Dyer’s Knotweed.

Next up, of course we looked at some seed equipment.

Owen got these racks second-hand and uses them to dry seeds.

Some seed cleaning screens from Lee Valley.

Owen’s seed display case.

Up till now, I’d only spent time with Owen at different conferences and workshops. It was great to hang out in his gardens and see how many different crops he was growing and talk about seeds.

Em and I said goodbye to Owen and Tiffany and headed over to Hope Seeds – only about half an hour or so away (if you follow the right highway signs of course.)

Hope Seeds

And a few turns later, we met up with Andrea Berry at Hope Seeds in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia.  Andrea has only been at this site for a year and a half or so. (You can read about my visit to her previous farmstead.)

I’ve known Andrea for just over ten years since she apprenticed at Everdale and I was at Switch Farm (now called Greenfields). We got back in touch over seeds and have been collaborating on the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network (ECOSGN) since 2008 or so. I always love to see what Andrea is up to.

Andrea and Rick welcomed us in and we talked the night away about seeds, Tai Chi, and draft horses.

In the morning we walked through the fields. Andrea did have a few seed crops but since she’s moved to this new site she’s been focusing on getting the farm in shape before growing.

Andrea has a network of seed growers who produce seed for her (in fact Tourne-Sol grows a number of brassica greens and a few other crops for Hope Seeds), as such Andrea can afford to focus on her farm.

Some of this farm work has involved water management.

Such as building ponds to deviate water and provide irrigation in dry periods.

Building French drains. (Trenches filled with rocks.)

And digging surface drains to control where surface runoff flows.

We hung out in Andrea’s seed room well stocked in shipping supplies with a great packing table. (Do you see the USC seed map on the wall? I hope you have one in your office, farm, home, or … )

And a fine selection of custom made seed scoops.

The seed inventory hangs along the wall.

With a row for each variety.

From here, Em and I headed back up through New Brunswick and into Maine.