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Welcome to the Salt Spring Seed Sanctuary

  • We are a charitable organization dedicated to the health and vitality of the earth through the preservation and promotion of heritage seeds.
  • We are committed to maintaining, evaluating and keeping records for all the edible, medicinal and useful crops that can be grown in Canada.
  • We are a learning centre and network encouraging local food and seed production.

Our Seed Sanctuary was started in 2002. Since then we have had hundreds of plant “custodians” across the country trialing varieties and telling us how they did in their particular climates. These growers have helped us, through our “Bulk Me Up” program, to build up a large and diverse seed collection.

In the past few years, starting around 2014, local communities have followed our example and now there are hundreds of seed banks, sanctuaries and seed libraries across North America. We feel that we have successfully completed an important part of our mission by helping many of these seed initiatives with advice and seeds.

We are thrilled that it is now time to re-invent our own Seed Sanctuary. We feel that it is no longer necessary for us to maintain our cross-country network of growers and that it is time to become more locally oriented. Instead of sending seeds to individuals across Canada, we are encouraging people to connect with the community seed libraries in their area. We will continue to donate seeds to such community seed initiatives.

We are pleased that there is now an excellent book about community seed sanctuaries. It is by Cindy Conner and is called “Seed Libraries and other means of keeping seeds in the Hands of the People”. It is from New Society Publishers.

We now have our own community seed bank on Beddis Rd at the location of Salt Spring’s soon-to-be food storage and processing facility, called The Root. We are calling our seed storage room The Radicle Seed Bank because that has been the name of the Newsletter we have been putting out for many years. (The “radicle”, by definition is “ the lower end of a plant embryo that develops into the main root.” So we are the Radicle Seed Bank at the Root!)

If you already have some growing space, consider becoming a member of our Seed Sanctuary and helping us to preserve and multiply heritage seeds for Salt Spring Island. Contact our Board member, Sheila Dobie, whose email is [email protected]

If you don’t have growing space, we have created allotment seed gardens at the Salt Spring Centre. Most of the plots are 100 feet long by 3 feet wide, which would enable you to grow lots of seed and food for yourself as well as seed for the Sanctuary. You could set this up by emailing Board members Milo Stuart, [email protected] or Dan Jason, [email protected]

Here are the descriptions of our Sanctuary Seeds for 2020.

If you don’t wish to grow out seeds for our Seed Sanctuary but would still like to become a member, your $20 membership fee can help us a lot. We will:

  • Host seed saving workshops every fall.
  • Support young people who want to learn about seed saving.
  • Continue to send seeds to seed banks, libraries and sanctuaries across Canada.
  • If you wish to become a member, your $20 cheque or money order should be made out to Salt Spring Sanctuary Society. Our address is Salt Spring Sanctuary Society, PO Box 465 Ganges, Salt Spring Island, BC, V8K 2W1.
  • We are registered as a Charitable Foundation and are happy to receive donations. We will send you a receipt for income tax purposes.
  • You could also PayPal the money to [email protected]

Why do we need Seed Sanctuaries?

Many things these days point to the looming importance of local food security. Soon we may no longer be able to take food for granted because of economic breakdown, environmental destruction and climate change.

The two most important keys to food security are local production and crop diversity. In these challenging times, we need to work together to keep the earth our Garden.

Sanctuaries champion the idea that seeds should stay in the public domain. There are millions of ardent gardeners and farmers across Canada. From growing food, it is a small step to making educated choices about the best seeds to keep alive. Who better to shape agriculture than some of the farmers and gardeners who devote themselves to the land?

Seed Sanctuaries are changing the culture of food in Canada by promoting grass roots preservation of our seed heritage. We can work together so that growing food is less about making money and more about making health. A sustainable agriculture works with nature’s fertility and abundance. We can honour the carrying capacity of both city and country spaces by embracing safe and sustainable ways of feeding ourselves.

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