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New funding sprouts more growth for B.C. seeds


May 9, 2022
By BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food

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The province of B.C. is increasing support for seed growers to enhance and expand their operations.

“There’s so much potential contained in the thin coat of a seed. From an apple tree to winter squash, seeds can grow into nutritious food for B.C. families,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “By investing in B.C. seed growers, we’re helping produce seeds adapted to B.C.’s unique climate regions, making us more resilient. As our seed businesses grow and expand, so will our economy and food security.”

To scale up seed production and processing in B.C., the Province is investing $90,000 to:

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  • support seed growers through seed-education workshops throughout B.C.;
  • create a seed mentorship program and knowledge-transfer events;
  • conduct seed trials to select breeds best suited to B.C.’s climate;
  • continue seed-cleaning and processing services throughout B.C. using mobile seed-cleaning units;
  • work with existing seed libraries to identify seed-storage capacity; and
  • develop a database of seed-exchange systems.

“As a small-scale seed grower, I know the mentorship, education workshops and access to seed-cleaning equipment that I’ve benefited from will help other growers increase production of locally grown and adapted seed varieties,” said Arzeena Hamir, owner of Amara Farm. “More local seeds will improve the resiliency of food and farming as we weather climate change and other challenges.”

David Catzel, BC Seed Security program manager with FarmFolk CityFolk, a Vancouver-based food and agriculture non-profit organization, said: “Through ongoing education and help establishing efficient and shared production systems, we can create a secure food system that values seeds as a shared resource that’s stewarded by growers for future generations. Continued support from the Province will allow us to build this system together, feeding British Columbians and ensuring we can do so into the future.”

The support follows the publication of a report by FarmFolk CityFolk, funded by the Province last year. The report reviewed the state of organic seed production in B.C., explored the merits of incorporating seed-processing equipment into new and existing food hubs, and identified actions to boost B.C.’s seed production. The report’s key recommendations to the Province included:

  • identify food hubs in the Cowichan Valley, Kamloops and Quesnel that could house seed equipment and services and connect seed growers and food-hub operators through workshops and education;
  • continue to gather data about B.C. seed production through a comprehensive seed survey and by working with partners to create best practices around grower-provided data;
  • review more funding opportunities for seed growers, including exploring how local food micro-loans could benefit seed producers; and
  • enable FarmFolk CityFolk to continue delivering education and training for seed producers, including through its workshops, mentorships, seed enterprise budgets, biennial BC Seed Gathering events and field days.

FarmFolk CityFolk and the B.C. government have partnered to purchase four made-in-B.C. mobile seed-cleaning units – one in 2019 and three in 2021.

In 2018, B.C. invested $670,000 through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund to support a new research farm and seed lab at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.