Afterwards, we travelled up to Prince George where we met a school group at the Rodeo Grounds. We had a great workshop where students learned about the basics of seed saving with the help of a running game called Go Pollinator/Stop Pollinator and seed-saving card games. The students took turns separating sunflower seeds using our bike-powered thresher. At the end of the afternoon, we cleaned seeds from locals for the Prince George Seed Library, which partners with the David Douglas Botanical Garden Society and Prince George Master Gardeners. Seeds included marigold, hollyhock, zinnia, and oats.
The next day we headed west to Smithers where we cleaned 200 lbs of wheat while taking in the views of Hudson Bay Mountain. We continued down Highway 16 through Hazelton and made our way up to WoodGrain Farms in the Kispiox Valley.
We spent the morning with Seed the North, a local group that does restoration work and aims to save seeds from native forest species. We cleaned seeds from all sorts of native species including varieties of maple, birch, soapberry, and more. In the afternoon, we had a Seed Saving Workshop and cleaned seeds from local growers and Short Season Seeds, a seed company based out of WoodGrain Farms that also sells seeds through BC Eco Seed Co-op. Together, we cleaned 25 lbs of rye, 30 lbs of wheat, 2 lbs of oats, 2 lbs of beans, 3.5 lbs of buckwheat, 1 lb of lettuce, and more! At this stop, we had the wonderful opportunity to connect with two of our Seed Mentorship participants, Jolene and Mary, who drove all the way from Terrace.
The following day we made our way to Kitwanga to visit Tea Creek, an Indigenous-led food sovereignty and trades training initiative. Before getting to work, we had the pleasure to eat breakfast together and chat about the upcoming National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We learned about past policies including the Peasant Farm Policy that restricted access of farm tools to Indigenous farmers and dictated what they could sell, causing Indigenous farmers to have to compete on an uneven playing field. We had the chance to tour their fields and then demonstrated our equipment to the farm students and cleaned a bunch of onion seeds.
Following our morning at Tea Creek, we took off on a long drive for our next day’s stop at the Williams Lake Farmers market. At the farmers market we had a rutabaga tasting, including four varieties of rutabaga from this year’s CANOVI trials. We also cleaned lettuce, amaranth, and buckwheat seeds.
We spent our final day of the tour at the Horse Lake Community Co-op in Lone Butte, close to 100 Mile House. After a great Seed Saving Workshop, we cleaned globe thistle, radish, wheat, and mustard seed.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip, we are thankful we were able to meet lots of friendly faces, share great meals, taste some rutabagas, clean lots of seeds, and spread the word about our seed cleaning equipment up North.
Thank you so much to our funders, as well as all of the farmers, community groups, and local seed growers who made this tour a success. Funding in part for this program was provided by Vancouver Foundation and the B.C. Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.