In 2016, the BC Eco Seed Co-op in collaboration with the UBC Farm Seed Hub and FarmFolk/CityFolk initiated a pilot project at UBC Farm to develop a model of practical on-farm trials to test seed quality. The intention was to explore various ways to conduct variety trials on a working farm without overwhelming farmers with data collection. These variety trials are meant to support the quality assurance program needed to offer quality seeds at a small/medium seed production scale.
The need for regionally-adapted seed is strong in climates like BC, and local seed production has the potential to address the needs for better varieties and more secure seed access. However, based on past surveys, seed quality has often been listed as one of the barriers for farmers to purchasing locally grown seeds. On-farm trials can allow local seed companies such as the BC Eco Seed Co-op to ensure high seed quality for their customers and inform member-producers when improvement is needed on particular varieties or crops.