Ontario is home to regional and national organizations doing remarkable work on ecological farming and food security, as well as a large number of ecological farmers, many of whom are engaged in seed saving or commercial seed production.
The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security (The BFICSS) in Ontario is focused on advancing on-farm seed production work by facilitating opportunities for farmers to participate in on-farm research such as variety trialing and plant breeding, as well as training and education that offers valuable knowledge exchange with other growers in the region and beyond. EFAO is the host organization for The BFICSS in Ontario.
Seed Library Grow Outs
Want to take part in a Community seed-growing project? EFAO’s Seed Program has partnered with Seeds of Diversity Canada in offering 3 different projects for those interested in seed growing this season:
- a beginner-friendly “Save One Rare Variety Challenge,”
- an intermediate project to grow out some old tomato and bean varieties, and
- a more advanced project on breeding an easier-to-harvest ground cherry!
With any of the projects, you’ll learn new skills, support the Seeds of Diversity seed library, take part in a fun, collaborative project, and support our amazing Canadian Seed Library, which is a collection of over 2900 regionally-adapted and rare seed varieties!
Wheat and Oats Participatory Plant Breeding
We are proud to begin our 9th season of our Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) program in collaboration with the University of Manitoba and with farmers like you!
Through this program, farmers work with early generations of wheat and oat populations and adapt these varieties to their ecological farming conditions. Farmers involved in this program receive support on seed distribution, selections, cleaning, and on related agronomic questions from experts in the field.
For this program, farmers plant small plots of about 20 meters squared, and select about 500 spikes out of that population. After a few years, seeds can be bulked up and grown at a larger scale.
2021 CANOVI Variety Trials
Vegetable Participatory Plant Breeding
PPB can be seen as a natural complement to variety trials. Variety trials explore existing materials and help identify gaps for a breeding program. They can also be used to test new varieties emerging from a PPB program. It is not necessary, however, for the two to be tightly linked. Some farmers may want to only do variety trials and some may only want to do breeding. Sometimes a farmer may be very knowledgeable about what is on the market and what needs they have without doing variety trials.
PPB is more work and a longer time commitment than variety trials. The best results will come to those who come to the work with a good idea of what they’d like to achieve, and those who have energy and enthusiasm for the multi-season project.
This might be the right fit for you, if you’ve done some trialling on your farm (informally or formally) and have found your dissatisfied with the germplasm/varieties currently available, or if you have an idea for something new you’d like to create. For example, have you ever wished for something that does not exist (e.g. shape, colour, size, other trait) in your current crops? If so, what is it?