BC Seed Trials, it’s official


You may have known that the BC Seed Trials project is underway, but we had the chance to share the news with a wider audience this week thanks to great coverage by Randy Shore in the Vancouver Sun.

Check out the article. And read below for our official media release.

April 12th, 2016
Vancouver, BC

New Project to Build Supply and Diversity in BC Seed Industry

A collaborative project by FarmFolk CityFolk, the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and UBC’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems is building new capacity for seed production in British Columbia. B.C. boasts a vegetable industry worth $2.8 billion annually, but the majority of the seed used by the sector is sourced by companies in the US and Canada who import seed from the international market.

B.C. is making big gains in developing the local food sector, but local seed development has lagged. “Most people don’t realize that BC farmers are largely unable to source BC-grown seed for their crops,” stated Chris Thoreau, BC Seed Security Program Coordinator at FarmFolk CityFolk. “There is a huge opportunity for developing regionally-adapted seeds that thrive in our conditions. Our project will support the development of a local seed market.”

The three-year program combines the research expertise of academic researchers at both the University of British Columbia and the University of the Fraser Valley with the real-world growing conditions of BC farms. Participating farms are in the Fraser Valley, central Vancouver Island and northern BC. UBC is the central site where a full set of trials will be grown organically at UBC farm. UFV is overseeing the central site for conventional trials on a Fraser Valley farm. Both organic and conventional on-farm satellite sites will trial a subset of varieties and collect the data necessary to allow farmers to identify the best regional performers and select crops for further development for seed production.

“Our local food system is growing rapidly in B.C. – this project will provide much-needed resources for sustainable organic seed development to BC farmers,” stated Dr. Hannah Wittman, Academic Director of the CSFS at UBC. The unmet demand for certified organic seeds presents a clear opportunity for BC seed growers; however, conventional vegetable producers also stand to benefit from varieties that are better adapted to BC growing conditions. With these needs in mind, the project aims to build the capacity for BC-grown seed to be accessible for commercial-scale growers.

“When I began farming I viewed seed availability in the same way many people view the apparently unlimited supply of food in the supermarket. We sometimes fail to recognize our vulnerability as farmers when we have in our hands a colourful seed catalogue with every imaginable vegetable seed available to us,” stated Dan Oostenbrink founder of Local Harvest Farm and Market in Chilliwack. “We’re proud to be part of the seed trials to ensure future generations have full and free access to unadulterated and genetically diverse seeds.”

The BC Seed Trials project is collaboratively administered by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm, the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, and FarmFolk CityFolk, with additional research support from the University of Fraser Valley. The project is funded in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture through programs delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C Additional funding is provided by the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm, the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and Whole Foods Market.

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