Stories shared to spread seed secrets

Residents can learn all about saving seeds and their heritage in an upcoming workshop

  • Nov. 15, 2011 5:00 a.m.
Greg Roberts harvests some old sunflower seeds in the Ladysmith Community Garden.

Greg Roberts harvests some old sunflower seeds in the Ladysmith Community Garden.

Christopher Sun

The Chronicle

If you have ever had problems trying to grow a vegetable garden, check to see where the seeds are from.

The Ladysmith Community Garden and Cowichan Green Community are holding a workshop called Seed Stories: A history and how-to on seed saving in the Cowichan Valley. The event will introduce people to the history of local seed production, explain what heritage varieties of fruits and vegetables are and explain why locally grown products can have more flavours and textures than a similar one grown elsewhere. People will also learn how to save their own seeds and why it’s important.

“It’s built around food security,” said Greg Roberts, Ladysmith Community Gardens president, about the workshop. “To make sure we are not held ransom to huge corporate interests.”

Most seed producers are centralized, multi-national, large corporations that sell seeds grown in climates different to here. However, seeds are conditioned to where they are grown, which can be problematic when it is planted in a different climate.

“If the seeds are grown here, they will adapt year to year,” said Cowichan Green Community’s Vanessa Goodall. “Seeds grown here will be more resistant to extra precipitation as opposed to seeds grown in California where there, it’s drought conditions.

Goodall said there were a number of large seed companies in the Cowichan Valley prior to the Second World War, which supplied seeds throughout Canada, United States and United Kingdom.

“There was a change,” Goodall explained. “The importation of cheaper seeds and agriculture commodities undercut the local economy.”

Now, with genetic engineering and changes to food production, there has also been a narrowing of the types of food people eat, she added, quoting a United Nations study that found there has been a 75 per cent loss in food diversity.

The workshop will be held Nov. 22 at the Boys and Girls Club at 220 High Street from 7-8:30 p.m. Call 250-748-8506 for more information.