This past week, I had the honour of attending the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario (EFAO) conference Regeneration: Seeds, Soil and Community Connections.
As always, the EFAO conference was a gathering of like-minded farmers finally taking a break from a busy season, and getting together to chat about successes, challenges and everything we are dreaming of for next year. This year’s conference was full of amazing speakers focusing on soil building, community building, organic orchards, maximizing production and thanks to the partnership with the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, there were lots of workshops on seed saving!
The keynote speaker, Rowen White spoke on Planting Seeds in a Modern World: Restoring Indigenous Seed Sovereignty. She gave a passionate, inspiring talk which not only touched on the importance of seed saving, but also introduced the topic of seed rematriation to many in the crowd, and encouraged us to use seed saving as a tool for reconciliation, for actively resisting the corporate food system, and finding hope in moving forward in these challenging times. One quote, which specifically resonated with me, was: "As long as I have seeds in my pocket, I have hope in my heart" Rowen White
Seeds not only contain all that they need to sprout life, but hope for future prolific gardens and for well-fed communities. Saving seeds allows for increased sovereignty on farms and in communities. Saving seeds provides a means of sharing culture, growing techniques and knowledge through generations. In many places, people have lost this connection. Efforts to reinvigorate Indigenous Seed Sovereignty through rematriation will have a positive effect in Indigenous communities and our entire local food movement. Greater access to seeds and seed saving knowledge is key to resilience. They are a connection to the past, and hope for the future "They are witnesses to the past; tiny time capsules of life’s rich and layered stories."
I could never describe rematriation as well as Rowen, so I would suggest checking out this video and reading Indigenous Seed Sovereignty
"In the seed movement, we have begun to use the word “Rematriation” as it relates to bringing these seeds home again. In many communities, including my own Mohawk tradition, the responsibility of caring for the seeds over the generations is ultimately within the women’s realm. So the word “rematriation” reflects the restoration of the feminine seeds back into the communities of origin." Rowen White
The conference covered so many topics; I wish I could've divided myself amongst the many workshops to learn all that was offered from the wealth of knowledge holders present. I stuck to seed saving and learned so much. Even in the seed saving theme, topics ranged from "Where does your seed come from?" to "Economics of Seed Production" and "On-Farm Plant Breeding: Developing Your Own Varieties”, all presented by experts outstanding in their fields.
Saving seeds is not only culturally significant, but can help us all grow more productive gardens. By growing and saving heirloom seeds locally, they adapt to our climates, and provide an important tool for growing healthy, fruitful gardens that can thrive through the many changes in climate we currently face. Having the opportunity to learn from so many seed savers is such a treat, and has us motivated to continually encourage more people to grow and save their own seeds!
Nourish is dedicated to integrating seed saving into our growing work. We host a Community Seed Library in partnership with GreenUP, plant Urban Seed Saving Gardens, and host seed saving workshops throughout the year.
If you are interested in learning how to save your seeds in your community garden, backyard or on-farm, get in touch!
If you are already a seed saver, and would like to increase your knowledge, get in touch!
If you have ideas of how to further integrate seed saving into our work get in touch!
Peterborough's annual Seedy Sunday is a great kick-off for the gardening season, Save the Date for March 10th 2019 for the event! Get in touch for more details, to volunteer or donate seeds!