Certified organic seed for home and market gardeners in Canada.
Well selected, regionally adapted seed to thrive in organic gardening and farming systems is a critical component when it comes to healthy and secure regional food systems.
Open-pollinated, genetically robust and diverse populations are able to handle a variety of climatic conditions and environmental pressures. These populations are uniform and genetically stable. They will breed "true to type", we encourage everyone to try their hand at seed saving. Not only are we stewards of the heirlooms of yesterday by genetically maintaining these culturally and historically significant varieties, we believe strongly in supporting projects and making selections to help create the heirlooms of the future that are genetically diverse. This genetic diversity within future populations will give our children the building blocks they will need to solve their specific agricultural problems of the future.
Varieties we cannot produce high quality seed for reliably on farm due to climactic conditions or isolation distances are sourced from organic growers whom we work with closely. These varieties are challenging to grow high quality seed for even under optimal conditions. We have signed the Safe Seed Pledge.
When sourcing seeds it's important be armed with some basic knowledge about what you are getting. The following are some important definitions that all growers need to understand when sourcing seeds. For more information visit our Links page.
- Open-pollinated: (O.P) varieties produce genetically diverse populations that closely resemble their parents. These varieties have uniform, stable and unique genetic profiles that make them recognizable when compared to other varieties of the same species. These potentially interbreeding individuals occupying the same space at a given time have a natural genetic variance and become more variable over time. Through genetic maintenance by selecting desirable attributes to improve the population and roguing undesirable individuals from that same population the ideotype (an ideal snapshot of the variety) can be maintained. "Trueness to type in an O.P is a statistical feature of the entire population, not a characteristic of individual plants."(R.W Allard, 1999). This genetic diversity and stability makes O.P varieties very accessible and reproducible. Seed saved from open-pollinated varieties will breed "true to type".
- Hybrid: The controlled crossing of two parents to create offspring with specific desired genetic attributes. The progeny of this cross called F1's meaning first filial, (the first generation after the cross) are highly genetically variable and due to the natural laws of genetic recombination will not breed "true to type". This means that F2 seed (seed saved and replanted from an F1 hybrid) will not have the same characteristics as its parents. Gardeners and farmers will always have to go back to the seed company to get the hybrid variety every year. Some farmers may find themselves out of luck if the seed company that offers their favourite varieties goes out of business, gets bought by a larger seed company or drops that specific offering. Gardeners too are at the whim of the seed company and cannot save and adapt their favourite varieties to their micro-climate. That being said, there is a space for hybrids in the marketplace to meet specific agricultural challenges and consumer demand. It's always a good idea to do your research to find varieties that work for you.
- Genetically Engineered (GE, GMO): Varieties where genes are inserted into the DNA of the host. Transferred genes are often from different species, genera, or kingdoms. This is a highly controlled process performed in a laboratory setting. Users of GE seed must sign technology use agreements with the bio-tech companies that engineer these varieties. Consumers do not have access to GE seed. We do not, cannot, and will not sell GMO seed. We feel that more testing needs to be done to measure the impact of this technology on farmers, cultures, and on human & ecological health. This is precisely why we support the safe seed initiative and have signed the Safe Seed Pledge.
- Treated vs Untreated: Sometimes seeds are treated with fungicide or other chemicals to combat specific diseases or pests. These coatings are only used on seeds sourced specifically for conventional agricultural use. The use of fungicide and other seed treatments is NOT allowed in organic agriculture. However, natural coatings can be used as an aid to the grower when planting. Some seeds that are darker in hue are sometimes coated with a bright colour so that large scale growers can see the seed move through their planters or how much seed they're sowing in a tray. Pelleted seeds such as pelleted lettuce make it easier for growers to sow large amounts of seed accurately and uniformly either with seed drills, vacuum seeders, or by hand(we do not sell pelleted seed). Both of these coatings are accepted by the Canadian Organic Standard and neither hinder nor help the plant in any way other than getting the seeds where they need to go.