WHO ARE WE?
The Prince Edward Island Seed Alliance is a network of small farmers committed to growing out Island adapted, Open Pollinated (OP) seeds for our community of Island farmers and gardeners.
Organized in 2015 through the generous assistance of the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, we offered our first cooperatively produced collection of seeds for the 2016 growing season. Our goal is to continue to expand our collection by trialing open-pollinated, open-source vegetable varieties, as well as pollinator flower varieties to continue to build our living collection of Island adapted seed.
We hope to grow our organization by tapping into the PEI community to collect other open pollinated varieties of seeds that have been grown and saved by other Island gardeners and farmers, as well as supporting new seed growers in their efforts to select, save and clean their own seed.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO GROW ISLAND ADAPTED SEEDS?
World-wide, choices for varieties of garden seeds are dwindling every year due to corporate take-over of small seed companies, who often allow heirloom and open pollinated varieties of seeds to die out in favor of hybrids. Though often more productive than OP varieties, hybrid seeds will not breed true to type if the seeds are replanted, which means that growers must buy new seed every year.
Open pollinated seeds can be saved and replanted for generations. In addition, as open pollinated seeds are grown, selected and saved over a period of years, the resulting plants will adapt to the local growing conditions, and become more productive than their predecessors. Since PEI offers some unique growing conditions, it is important that we nurture a living collection of favorite OP seeds for the future of food security on the Island.
WHY IS THE SALE OF SEEDS IMPORTANT TO COMMERCIAL GROWERS?
Seed growing takes extra time and dedication, which may have financial implications for commercial growers. Many (though not all) OP vegetables are not as commercially productive as a hybrid variety of the same crop. In addition, a seed crop typically stays in the ground for a much longer time than a vegetable crop, thereby causing land to be out of production for the time it takes seed to ripen.
The sale of seeds helps to defray this potential financial loss to the grower who chooses to grow out OP varieties for sale as well as for seed.
HOW DO WE ASSURE QUALITY IN OUR SEEDS?
Alliance Seed Growers follow guidelines provided by Seeds of Diversity Canada to determine isolation distance to safeguard against cross-pollination. We also grow large volumes of each variety to be able to select seed only from the best plants. Each grower is responsible for cleaning and testing germination rates of their seeds to be sure that 85% or more germinate before they are determined “market ready.” These steps help us to offer high quality, locally produced, non GMO, open- pollinated seeds that are either sustainably raised or certified organic.
HOW ARE THE SEED PACKETS PRODUCED?
Seed packets are produced in small runs using a predesigned template, which are identifies the variety, and the grower who produced it, printed onto stickers by the Alliance, and adhered to seed envelopes at the cost of about $1 each. The Grower then fills the packets, and either pays the $1 back to the Alliance, or trades back the value in seed packets, which are then sold at Seedy Saturdays and other public events. These sales provide a self- generated funding source for the Alliance to continue.
The remaining packets go to the Grower to either sell, or to use like trading cards with other Alliance Growers. Trading enables Growers to expand their seed collection without the costs associated with buying seed outright. By trading, we encourage communication and cooperation amongst Growers, and avoid overlap of crops grown for seed. This coordination increases the diversity of Island adapted seed offerings for our community.
WHERE CAN WE BUY ALLIANCE SEEDS?
Currently, Alliance Seeds are available at the Charlottetown and Summerside Farmer’s Markets, and at the Voluntary Resource Center on Prince St. in Charlottetown. We also and offer wholesale prices on seed, and sell our custom designed 9 packet seed racks to interested Island retailers.
CAN I GROW SEED FOR THE ALLIANCE?
Yes! We are looking for Island growers who farm with ecologically sustainable practices and are dedicated to the mission of saving Island adapted seed. The Alliance provides stock seed, training and support for growers to meet our seed quality requirements, seed cleaning services, and packaging support to committed Island growers.