Feature Farmer: Sunshine Farms

Posted on Wednesday, 30 June 2021 under Stories

Building Community Through Seeds

This year at our Research and Education Seed Farm, we are growing pink celery and deep purple tomatillo from seeds courtesy of Sunshine Farms. In exchange, we have sent some of our Green Goliath broccoli from last season. Collaboration is one of our core values at FarmFolk CityFolk and we are excited to grow these intriguing crops. Sunshine Farms has been around since 1987 and started to sell seeds in the late 90’s. They now have over 300 different varieties of seeds listed on their website.

Russ Alcock from Sunshine Farms was nice enough to answer some questions about their farm and these specific varieties. Alcock ventured into seed saving years ago when certain varieties Sunshine Farms liked were unavailable or only available as treated seed. They slowly started to fall in love with seed growing and when their seed cabinet quickly became a room, Sunshine Farms fully transitioned into a seed farm.

Pink celery and deep purple tomatillos are just two of the breeding projects at Sunshine Farms. Concerning the pink celery, Alcock has placed selection pressures on bolt resistance and a vibrant pink colour. According to Alcock, the variety’s colour can be variable, sometimes appearing as white. We can say he has done an excellent job at selecting for this trait as almost all of our seedlings are a fantastic pink colour. This fun colour makes pink celery an excellent choice for an interesting addition to a caesar or on a veggie plate. Alcock also likes to make a dehydrated veggie salt with pink celery as a main ingredient, sounds tasty! Not only does Sunshine Farms grow pink celery, they also have a red variety available on their website.

pink celery growing on a farm

For the Deep Purple tomatillo, Alcock has selected for earlier depth of colour and increased size. The Deep Purple tomatillos have an excellent sweet, fruity flavour that is perfect for salsas or salads. Purchase seeds here to try for yourself.

Sunshine Farms’ impact reaches beyond seeds with their wonderful dedication to building community. Sunshine Farms offers vocational development opportunities for adults with diverse abilities. They provide hands-on experience at a pace comfortable for the individual in all aspects of their seed operation such as mechanics, woodworking, and seed saving. Opportunities are based on the interest and choice of the individual.

When asked how they chose new varieties, Alcock said since they grow so many, they mostly work towards maintaining stock. However, he adds, “There always seems to be something I can’t resist trying.” We believe this is a common sentiment amongst farmers and growers alike. There is always something new and interesting a gardener cannot resist.

Learn more about Sunshine Farms on our directory of BC Seed Suppliers.