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Connecting to Your Food with Seed Saving

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Posted by : Guest Blogger, Mon, Oct 13 2008

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The UBC Farm is a student-driven 24-hectare farm located on the University of British Columbia Campus in Vancouver. It's a great place to not just experience a bit of nature, but it's a unique environment to learn and connect with sustainable agriculture, food production and community.

When I received an email from the farm about a seed saving workshop it seemed like perfect timing. I had just finished reading This Organic Life by Joan Dye Gussow and because of what I read, I was interested in saving the seeds from some super delicious heirloom tomatoes I had purchased at the farmer's market.

But what was the next step?

Enter Plant Breeder and UBC Professor Andrew Riseman who started off the greenhouse talk with an enthusiastic cry of, "Flowers are cool! Plant sex is cool!" Immediately we started discussing the importance of saving seed. In the 19th century the seed business was highly decentralized and worked with local growers to find the best seeds for that region, but when the business of agriculture grew, the seed business changed. Today, five mega-companies control 75% of the seeds resulting in a declining number of varieties and all have been sprayed with chemicals. Where's the diversity and choice in that?

For the backyard gardener, growing and saving seeds helps to connect you to the food and flowers in your garden. By raising generations of plants, you are giving yourself the opportunity to learn, discover and create something unique.  

While some of the workshop was an education in plant physiology, genetics and even touched on plant breeding, we did go through the steps on how to save seeds in our own gardens. There was even some hands-on learning as we assisted the Friends of the Garden separate seeds grown at the UBC Botanical Gardens from the chaff.

It was an interesting and worthwhile way to spend a rainy afternoon. I definitely learned some practical knowledge and it was nice to have a re-introduction to biology 101 taught by someone who was genuinely interested and excited about the topic. I encourage everyone in Vancouver to check out the UBC Farm and sign up for their newsletter to keep abreast of upcoming workshops and events. Past workshops have included cheese-making, beekeeping basics, canning, wildcrafting and domesticating medicinal herbs. Plus, there's always the summer Saturday market and CSA programs!

Want to know more about how to save your own seeds? Visit the International Seed Saving Institute for specific instructions on how to save food seeds from beans to turnips.

Jeannette Ordas is a Vancouver-based Web Designer and Food Blogger who is probably right now thinking about what she'll make for dinner.

 


Posted: Mon, Oct 13 2008 by Guest Blogger

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