An Update from our Seed Farm

Posted on Thursday, 15 September 2022 under Stories

It is the most exciting time of year at our Research and Education Seed Farm. The crops we have carefully tended and weeded for months are ready to be harvested. Our first seed crops this year included white winter kale sprouts, fava beans, mizuna, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, and rutabaga.

The rutabaga seeds we saved were grown last year as part of the CANOVI project. We selected a mixture of different rutabaga varieties, stored the roots overwinter in a fridge, and replanted them this spring. We weeded, watered, and trellised the plants and as they started to mature, we covered them with netting to protect the drying seed pods from hungry birds.

Once the stalks of the rutabaga started to dry in the field we cut them off at the soil level and laid them out on a tarp to dry completely. When the rutabaga stalks were dry to the point of being brittle, we threshed them by covering them with a tarp and stomping on them to break down the woody materials. Next, we sifted out the biggest pieces of chaff with a hand screen and blew out the small chaff with an air compressor. Finally, we ran the seeds through our Winnow Wizard to separate the heavy rocks and undersized seeds and through the Office Clipper to separate the seeds and small clumps of clay by size. The rutabaga seeds will be available to purchase through BC Eco Seed Co-op.

From last year’s CANOVI radicchio trials, we decided to grow the variety “Bottiglione” for seed due to its popularity at our radicchio tasting event last fall. Look out for more information about upcoming tasting events.

We have also been able to harvest an abundance of zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, lettuce, and cabbage to send to Abbotsford Archway Food Bank and Food Stash Foundation as part of our Seed to Food program. Many of these donated vegetables are grown as part of variety trials run at the farm to evaluate the success of the breeding of new varieties and to compare newer varieties against the established market favourites.