Mobile Seed Cleaner Tour 2021

Posted on Thursday, 4 November 2021 under Stories Featured

The 2021 Mobile Seed Cleaner Tour was an overwhelming success. With a total of 15 stops, we were able to connect with many friendly faces and clean an overwhelming abundance of seeds.

The tour kicked off with our BC Seed Security Program Manager, David Catzel towing the trailer out to the Interior of BC. We were able to connect with Rachel Roussin, the coordinator of Kootenay and Boundary Farm advisors, who helped organize public workshops at our first few stops at Hummingbird Farm in Winlaw, College of the Rockies Creston Campus, and Vince McIntyre Farm in Argenta. The stops in Winlaw and Argenta were for the purpose of cleaning seeds for farmers. At Hummingbird Farm, we cleaned a wide variety of flower seeds grown organically and at the stop in Argenta, we helped clean over 2500 lbs of cover crop seed for replanting and wheat for eating.

Afterward, we spent a couple of days in Kamloops cleaning seeds at SSOL farm and engaging kids in seed security at Butler Urban Farm. Butler Urban Farm focuses on engaging the community around food and provides them with fresh organic produce at no cost. Anyone is welcome to come and harvest or start their own garden plot at the urban farm. During our visit, we hosted two different age school groups. The students had a blast digging for potatoes and we had great discussions about the importance of where our food comes from and how it is grown. We then took to some hand and foot threshing of beans, followed by the Winnow Wizard to separate the chaff from the beans. Students were able to take home some seeds to plant in their garden and hopefully sprout a lifelong interest in seed saving. We then headed north to Clearwater to attend their Saturday Farmers Market and ran a workshop in Dunster the following day that had some participants show up from as far away as Hazelton.

seed cleaning

Seed cleaning at Amara Farm.

The latter part of this year’s tour took place across the Vancouver and Gulf Islands. Arriving at Duke Point we drove up to Good Earth Farms in Black Creek, where we spent the day cleaning swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, and amaranth. The following day in Comox, we threshed and winnowed 22 lbs of coriander at Amara Farm. We then spent a couple of days at community events. First, we visited Five Acres Farm in Nanaimo for their market day and we joined Growing Opportunities’ farm folks and many nearby farmers and gardeners who brought pounds and pounds of seeds to clean. We threshed large amounts of beans, peas, cilantro, chickpeas, attempted carrot seeds, and cleaned smaller amounts of precious lettuces and flowers. We then headed down island to Duncan for a Seed Saving and Cleaning Workshop at Cowichan Green Community’s Garden Education Centre. The weather was beautiful and encouraged the young and old to come out to screen and clean seeds.

Following this, we did some ferry hopping, first to Salt Spring then to Pender Island. On Salt Spring Island we had dozens of farmers and keen seed savers visit us at Stowel Lake Farm to clean their seeds. The Salt Spring folks from Heavenly Roots Farm got to work using our hand screens; our equipment was buzzing away all day. The day was complemented with a rutabaga tasting as part of our 2021 CANOVI trials. John Pattison of Bright Farms supplied us with five different rutabaga varieties to evaluate using SeedLinked and we all had fun exploring the flavour nuances of Rutabaga.

view of a farm at sunset

Vancouver Island stop at Metchosin Farm.

On Pender Island, we threshed and winnowed over 24 kg of beans as part of the Gulf Island Food Co-op’s growers collective. Check out a video of our day at Pender Island’s Highgrove Farm. Finally, we spent our last few days in southern Vancouver Island. First, we stopped at Metchosin Farm where we spent two days cleaning a wide variety of seeds and even had CHEK news come for a visit. Afterward, we headed over to Saanich Organics where we cleaned more chard, beets, and lots of lettuce and met with nearby farmers also interested in our equipment. We had some farmers from Sandown Centre for Regenerative Agriculture visit to test out threshing flax to save both the seed and to keep the fibres for textiles. Even after the tour, our trailer has been busy on the southern portion of the Island. At most of the stops, we were not able to finish cleaning all the seeds that were brought (and they had more in their barns and fields), so folks were eager to find out how they could get access to the equipment again. We are grateful to have a dedicated trailer for Vancouver Island and are developing a collective agreement amongst interested users in the seedy community so it can be more widely available to anyone who needs it.

Stay up to date with our BC Seed Security Program work, including the expansion of our seed cleaning equipment on our website and social media channels.