Seed biodiversity in Canada is being lost at an alarming rate. This is largely due to an increase in concentration in the seed industry and increasing challenges that come with a changing climate. Almost all of the food we consume comes from seed, but in Canada, 60% of the calories in our diet come from only 4 species (wheat, maize, rice, and potato). 95% of the seeds that grow our main food crops are bred to perform under specific conditions, making them vulnerable and unable to adapt to change. This type of plant breeding also has consequences on the nutrition of our food, for example in the last 60 years the average Canadian potato has lost 100% of its vitamin A content, 57% of its vitamin C and iron, and 28% of its calcium.
Saving and sharing seeds, and growing heritage varieties allows growers to have more choice. It allows you to grow the crops that are best suited to your region, tailored to your tastes, or to fill a niche in the market. But most importantly it allows growers to increase biodiversity, resulting in resilient crops.
Organic Alberta is the Prairie host to the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. There are four other regional hubs across the country. The goal of this program is focused on working with farmers and researchers to build the resiliency and security of Canada’s seed supply. The Seed Security Website features many helpful tools such as; program publications, training resources, access to seed collections, on-farm research, videos and webinars.
Objective 1: Expanding the production and conservation of high quality, regionally adapted, ecologically grown, Canadian seed;
Objective 2: Building ongoing collaboration among individuals and organizations committed to advancing an ecological and diverse seed system in Canada.
Field crops are the focus in this region, home to the largest acreage of organic farms in Canada. Projects include:
- Supporting farmers, researchers and industry to identify, document and trial regionally-adapted, organically-relevant varieties and crop kind
- Working within the Canadian seed policy system to identify how best to manage the needs of scale, biodiversity and organic management practices
- Coordinating a collaboration of farmers, industry and researchers to develop new organic crop varieties through a participatory breeding framework
The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security was made possible thanks to the generous support of Mrs. Gretchen Bauta, it is delivered by USC Canada (http://www.usc-canada.org/) in partnership with Seeds of Diversity (https://www.seeds.ca/) and through the generous support of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
Visit these sites for more information on how to take action to grow and preserve seed security in the prairies!