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
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