Summer Solstice on the Seed Farm

Posted on Monday, 13 July 2020 under Stories

June 20th marked the summer solstice, the longest day of 2020 in the northern hemisphere. To honour the occasion, a group of staff and volunteers gathered at the FarmFolk CityFolk Research and Education Seed Farm to celebrate the gifts of the sun, the earth, and the seed stewards that came before us. We also acknowledged the privilege we have to cultivate the land together on the S’ohl Temexw territory of the Sto:lo people, with June 21 marking National Indigenous Peoples Day.

The day began with a tour of the vegetable varieties growing at the farm this year. Particularly notable are two varieties of corn being trialed: Painted Mountain and Who Gets Kissed.

women planting in a greenhouse

FarmFolk CityFolk Research and Education Seed Farm planting.

Painted Mountain Corn was developed in Montana by corn breeder David Christensen and is a descendant of over 70 native corn varieties cultivated by Native Americans and settlers across the Northern Rockies and Great Plains regions. Due to its genetic diversity the kernels of the mature cobs have a beautiful variety of colours from white to deep red giving the corn its name.

Who Gets Kissed carries the distinction of being the first open-pollinated sweet corn released in about 100 years. Bred over 12 seasons between Minnesota and South America, it was co-developed by a team led by Dr. Bill Tracy of UW-Madison. Its name is a reference to a tradition from the days before mechanical husking, when people would gather for “husking bees” and anyone who found a red ear got to choose someone to kiss.

farmer standing in a field

BC Seed Security Program Manager, David Catzel speaking during the event.

We also conducted a mini crop evaluation of kale and tomato varieties being trialed in the 2020 Citizen Seed Trial. June’s wet conditions were difficult on the tomato crop, but the kales are looking healthy. For the evaluation, participants observed the differences in the Winter Rainbow and Dazzling Blue populations and discussed which traits are most desirable.

The cycles of light and dark marked by the solstice remind us that our work is never done. The BC Seed Security program strives to support sustainable seed systems as a crucial component of sustainable food systems. Gatherings of like-minded seed enthusiasts provide us an opportunity to celebrate the efforts of so many dedicated seed stewards across our communities. These events also remind us of how much work is still to be done to develop high-quality, regionally adapted, ecologically grown, Canadian seed.