I have a confession to make. I am in love: with seeds. Just had to get that out.
I am gaga for plants, I revel in tubers, rhizomes, and cuttings; but seeds are different. Seeds feel like wealth. They look like jewels. They taste like wellness. They grow with a passion all their own, guided by the mystery as old as the universe.
I got into this deep love affair by growing herbs on my tiny balcony. Soon, it was community garden furor, with long, dizzying bike rides over the bridge to show my plot some love. I devoured books about gardening, edible ‘weeds’ and native species, while taking a permaculture course at the Richmond Sharing Farm. With my thoughts abuzz with daydreams of edible perennials and sustainable cities, I became an intern at the Environmental Youth Alliance, and worked at Earthwise; an organic farm in Tsawassen. Throughout the year, I worked landscaping and nursery jobs, while sheetmulching, planting and building the piece of land I farm. It is just over a half acre in a neighbor’s backyard in Burnaby, and is wet enough to merit water crops and exciting rare vegetables for the 2013 CSA.
This month, I was privileged to attend the BC Seeds 2012 conference, which took place at Kwantlen College in Richmond. I was excited to attend for a lot of reasons, but I mainly thought about meeting people, and learning how to save and clean seed. There was a lot more to learn.
I was really inspired by all the amazing people I met and talked to throughout the conference. I talked with folks about things really dear to our hearts; where we live, the year we had, the kinds of things we are growing, projects we are working on, seeds we are most interested in, “doom and gloom topics” related to agriculture, as well as solutions to our problems. I learned a great deal about the political and economic landscape of seeds in B.C., and Canada more generally. Did you know, for instance, there are not enough organic seed producers to supply farmers?
I am particularly excited about the idea of saving seeds well enough that I can move to breeding open pollinated or heirloom seeds. I love the plant breeding ideas we saw in the video at the conference. White red Russian kale? Awesome. I think I would start out by setting my sights on mildew resistant everything.
Probably the best part of the conference for me was the feeling of hopefulness.
Our economic situation, especially for young folks getting into the “green” industries is pretty tough going, without much governmental support- despite rhetoric. With networking, knowledge exchange, mutual support and attending fun events (like at this conference!), it feels a lot more achievable.
Given the likely outcome of our current political and environmental climate, working at things we love and care about makes more than just good sense, it can and does make a living.
Check out Athenaise’s farm at: http://burnabyfreshfarms.com