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I discovered another potentially useful online resource, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

Here is the website for The Seed Ambassadors Project. And here is what they say about themselves:

The Seed Ambassadors Project, based out of Oregon in the USA, is an independent, not-for-profit seed stewardship initiative. Over the winter of 2006-2007 we orchestrated an ethnobotanical exploration of nine Northern European countries to collect and distribute seed, information and friendship. We met with many of the region’s finest seed stewards and breeders: from Danish Seed Savers to the Russian Vavilov Institute, from Lithuanian government offices to ‘ancient grain’ outlaws in England. In February 2008 we went on a similar journey to Transylvania. Please read more on our blog.

I am subscribing to their blog and have joined the Google group in case there is good information to be gleaned there.

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Perhaps with the many sources of B.C. and even coastal vegetable seeds available, we can start to narrow down, what specific types of vegetables we’d like the pilot project to concentrate on, during the first year.

Beans and peas are relatively easy starter seed saving crops and an important protein crop in view to regional sustainability.  And quite a few of us are experienced growing and saving these kinds of seeds and can readily mentor new growers/seed savers.

I’ve been communicating with Dan Jason of Saltspring seeds and invited him to join our blog.  He’s coming up with lots of suggestions and enthusiasm about our project.

Seeds are still coming in from his growers but the new on-line catalog should be available in a month.

We can take in suggestions from the Kale Force group, and the Farmers’ Institute during this next few weeks.  I might be a little more eager to reach a consensus on the seeds for the pilot project, because have an opportunity to ‘launch’ the idea to the Powell River Garden Club on November 25th. 

The topic is vegetable gardening…and of course, seed-saving is a natural part of that topic…at least for me:)

I just added another link to our list of Weblinks: BC Seeds. This is an initiative of Farm Folk/City Folk and a bunch of seed producers and other friends of sustainable agriculture in BC. The coolest feature is the database of organic seeds, which allows you to search for the source(s) of any kind of food plant you’re interested in finding seeds for.

Here is their list of suppliers.

There are some glitches. For example, a search for “tomato” turns up an entry for Lutz beet, because the information from the Salt Spring catalogue entry for this variety comtains the sentence “We bake both the greens and the roots with caramelized onions in a tangy tomato sauce for a mouth-watering harvest dish.”

Here is some tantalizing information:

BC Seed grower Patrick Steiner has just published his first seed growing book: Small-Scale Organic Seed Production. This publication is not so much a “how-to” of seed growing as it is a “what to expect” when embarking on a journey of seed growing.

Patrick interviews several small-scale seed growers from Canada and the United States to get a glimpse of their experience over the years – their successes, their challenges, and what to expect in the future. Their stories are inspiring and do a wonderful job of preparing the reader for the world of seed growing.

Patrick himself is an experienced seed grower, operating Stellar Seeds (www.stellarseeds.com) in Salmon Arm, BC. He is well-known for his high-quality seeds as well as his involvement in seed growing education. Patrick has worked for the last several years on seed security issues in Canada and abroad, including serving on the board of USC Canada (www.usc-canada.org)

Organic seed production plays a vital role in developing sustainable food systems. With chemical seed production often being heavily reliant on pesticide use, the energy savings alone with organic seed production is huge. Furthermore, growing seed crops in organic conditions helps ensure that the plants that sprout from those seeds are also better adapted to organic systems.

Funding for the manual came from the Organic Sector Development Program. The 40-page manual is available for $10 as a print copy or $5 as a an electronic copy in pdf format. To get a copy of the manual, contact FarmFolk/CityFolk at admin@ffcf.bc.ca.

We ought to get a copy of this manual.

Visited both the Saltspring Seed Catalog and the Seed Sanctuary website, to see what varieties of beets and species of squash are offered.

Got a little surprise!

Dan’s catalog has one variety of beet,  Early Wonder Tall Top and no species of squash for sale.  We may have to either chose other vegetables for our pilot seed saving project or consider other sources of seed.  Other options???

The Sanctuary Program is more geared to maintained biological diversity through the growing out of open-pollinated heritage seeds.

Dan offers members, five types of seed to grow and save.  These seeds might not be the varieties that we would initially want to save as a group.  Although any individual can participate.  Think Louise was growing some bean varieties for Dan, a few years back.

I found this very handy online guide to saving some of the more common plant varieties, part of the International Seed Saving Institute. Also, down at the bottom of the page are some links to useful info to get you started saving seeds. They’ve very thoughtfully broken the vegetables down into three categories, depending on the complexity of the process required for saving seed: beginner, experienced, and expert.

The Seedy Saturday committee of the Powell River Farmers’ Institute met yesterday, and we decided that the new seed-saving pilot project will eventually need a blog in order to keep people connected and sharing information. So here it is.