On Tuesday, July 23rd, twelve active and aspiring farmers gathered at Winderberry Farm and Edible Acres in beautiful Windermere, BC, to participate in a seed cleaning demonstration, farm tour and potluck.
Participants included some of the host farm’s young farm staff, new and returning, some local Windermere farmers and a few who drove in from as far away as Fernie. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to join us for some or all of the afternoon and of course to our hosts Lin and Oliver!
During the seed cleaning demo, Chris Thoreau from FarmFolkCityFolk provided a detailed explanation of the moving parts of the mobile seed cleaning unit and how it came to be. Chris demonstrated a variety of methods to clean seed, from hand-shaking layered screens to using the seed cleaning machine for larger quantities. No seed is the same, so the method chosen for cleaning seed for saving or sale should depend on the seed itself, its intended purpose and quantity being cleaned.
A challenge for seed savers and sellers in a retail market can be ensuring that their product is clean enough of other materials and debris to sell in a competitive market where they’re competing against large seed companies with the infrastructure to ensure a consistent product. This factor, along with a higher price point, can potentially deter a small-scale farmer from buying these products, so consistency and cleanliness are key.
Over the winter of 2018-2019 FarmFolk CityFolk has been designing and building a mobile seed cleaning trailer for seed growers in BC. To be stored in Abbotsford for rental after the tour across BC to other stops in Invermere, Winlaw, Cranbrook and Creston (and more), the hope is that the trailer will inspire others to start similar projects in their own regions to help create a network of seed cleaning sites across BC to help further scale up organic seed production across the province.
Funding for the seed portion of the event has been provided in part by the governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership – a five‐year (2018‐19 to 2022‐23), $3 billion investment by federal‐provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity.
A farm tour led by Oliver, owner of Edible Acres, followed the demo. Oliver led the group through the market garden fields, where they grow food primarily for the on-site cafe, catering company, CSA and Farmers Market.
The farm practices companion planting, which we saw in the tomato greenhouse where every plant has a basil plant to accompany it. As a certified organic farm, they produce their own compost from organic inputs and the pile is impressive, to say the least!
Over the years, Lin and Oliver have experimented in growing a wide variety of crops for their community and customers. They’ve moved away from growing a wide variety of niche crops and have found that focussing on the more popular local staples like tomatoes, greens and root veg has served them well in their business.
Edible Acres operates on leased land from both family and a neighbouring property. Winderberry and Edible Acres host popular on-farm events, like their Fields to Fork Dinner happening on July 31.
Join us for another Columbia Basin event!
Events in the Columbia Basin are funded by Columbia Basin Trust.
Got land? Want land?
Through the B.C. Land Matching Program, Young Agrarians is offering support to farmers looking for land for their farm business and landowners looking for farmers to farm their land. The Columbia Basin Land Matcher will be attending the YA Mixer in October to answer any questions about accessing land through this program. For those unable to join us, you can send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The B.C. Land Matching Program is funded in the Columbia Basin by the Province of British Columbia, with support from Columbia Basin Trust and the Real Estate Foundation of B.C.