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Saving Seeds for Food Security

On the Garden Path: BY CAROLYN HERRIOT

It’s amazing to think that only 100 years ago almost everyone in the community was involved in some sort of agricultural activity or another. Small farms proliferated, market gardens and small holdings were everywhere. People raised livestock and grew seasonal fruits and vegetables because there weren’t any supermarkets stocking produce from all over the world. Vancouver Island used to produce 85 per cent of the food consumed on the island in fertile valleys from Cowichan to Port Alberni in a mild temperate climate that is perfect for year-round food production. Today we have a new work force – a generation of young people who desperately want to grow food and farm, because climate uncertainty makes it vital that we bring our food back home.

Definition of food security: Making sure your neighbours are fed!

Twenty-five years ago my concerns about the increasing takeover of small seed businesses by corporate interests, and the subsequent dropping of heritage varieties you could save seeds from, motivated me to become a seed saver. So I established ‘Seeds of Victoria’ and got busy with Seedy Saturdays all over the island.

Last year however, I left my seed garden behind when we moved to Yellow Point. Once the dust had settled I discovered that we had moved buckets full of seeds that represent many years of selecting heritage varieties for high yields in our local Zone 8 climate.

We’ll need plants that produce plentiful yields if we are going to feed ourselves in the future. But what makes them SO valuable is that you can save seeds from all of the ‘tried and true’ varieties, and if they volunteer they will come true to type, so there will be free food in abundance!

That’s when I realized that there was another way of spreading valuable, open-pollinated seeds so that communities can be food self-sufficient in future – in the form of heritage food plants. Last fall I had the idea for the name and this spring I set about creating a flashy logo to promote it, and now I would like to introduce you to a new concept in growing food and a fun way to get food seeds back into our hands – IncrEdibles! plants you can save seeds from for future food security.


For plentiful greens seed or transplant lettuce, salad mixes, kale, chard, spinach, oriental greens, mustard greens, parsley and coriander. Choose open-pollinated varieties and allow some to go to seed for free food in abundance!

To reduce shock, harden indoor seedlings off outdoors by day and indoors at night for a week before planting them in the garden.

Organic Fertilizer

4 parts seed meal (non-gmo alfalfa, canola or soy) or fish meal (non fish farmed)

1 part dolomite lime

1 part rock phosphate

1 part kelp meal

Add to soil mix in planters to boost food production in confined spaces. If soil fertility is questionable work into garden soil before seeding or transplanting.

Prevent tomato seedlings from getting root bound by potting on once second set of true leaves appear. Keep birds away by hanging flashy tinfoil plates from stakes in susceptible areas. Slug control: Lay a plank of wood down and check underside weekly for egg masses and hidden slugs.Watch out for bean weevil damage that appear as notches on leaf edges. Dust plants with diatomaceous earth to prevent further damage.

Little green caterpillars – leaf rollers, webworms, winter moth or codling moth larvae — for severe infestations spray leaves with Bacillus thuringiensis Bt, available from garden centres.

Carolyn Herriot is author of ‘The Zero Mile Diet, A Year Round Guide to Growing Organic Food’ (Harbour Publishing) Grand Opening at The Fern & Feather on Sat. April 24, 10 am – 6 pm. Mention this article and get one FREE IncrEdibles!


About the author: Angie