The proverbial seeds have been planted for a Community Seed Bank in central Alberta.
Gathering at ReThink Red Deer’s second annual EcoLiving Fair & Seedy Saturday (March, 2014), a committed group of food growers from across the region are collaborating to more efficiently produce, spread and conserve local, biodiverse seed.
“Between 1900 and 2000, our planet lost 75 percent of its plant genetic diversity. Yet it is this very diversity, mostly nurtured on local farms, that lies at the heart of a stable and sustainable food supply”, says Rene Michalak, Project Lead with ReThink Red Deer.
According to National Geographic, the extinction of food varieties is happening all over the world and it is happening fast. As we’ve come to depend on a handful of commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables, thousands of heirloom varieties have disappeared.
With financial support from The Bauta Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and Seeds of Diversity Canada, Central Albertans can access a 50+ variety collection of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds that are conditioned for our local cold temperate climate. Hosted by ReThink Red Deer, this seed collection has been selected for its popularity with growers and overall tolerance of our local climate conditions.
Michalak adds, “As one of the first Community Seed Banks in the province, this is a starting point for a public and “open-source” collection that local growers - both professional and amateur - can add to while helping to propagate these seeds for Central Alberta-specific varieties.”
Most of the momentum around seed saving is the fruit of volunteer labour. While critical to the birthing process, volunteer farmers, gardeners, and local food promoters who have poured heart and soul into building a local seed and food movement cannot sustain the volume of activity required to take this kind of initiative to another scale. In light of this, seed saving workshops are a regular part of the EcoLiving Fair + Workshops planned for both novice and experienced growers to learn more about the project and to register as a volunteer with the effort started and resourced by the Bauta Initiative. The resources available are reinforcing the work already underway to identify knowledge gaps and contribute to building a well coordinated sustainable seed system in both urban and rural Canadian communities.
“This is a great opportunity for people of all ages to reconnect with where our food comes from while celebrating our heritage in food growing as a community”, says Michalak.
Support for this project is provided by the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, a project of USC Canada delivered in partnership with Seeds of Diversity Canada and supported by the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. For more information visit www.seedsecurity.ca / www.communityseednetwork.org/resources
And check out the Red Deer Public Library's new Community Seed Library initiative launched in 2022.