Talking seed saving with local farmers

The Edmonton Food Council recently hosted its first big event: a film screening of SEED: The Untold Story. The film screening was in celebration of World Food Day 2016 and was held at the Edmonton Food Bank. (To read the Food Council’s interview with the film’s directors, click here.)

The event was a great way for people to connect with each other and learn more about some local food security organizations. Several had informational booths at the event, including Edmonton Permaculture Guild, Food4Good and Sustainable Food Edmonton. Film attendees raised $177.50 and 85 kilograms of food donations for the Food Bank.

Two local Alberta farmers, Debra Krause of Vesta Gardens and Malorie Aubé of Country Accent Farm, led a question-and-answer session after the film. They gave their personal perspective on some of the issues that were raised by SEED. Debra spoke about preserving heirloom vegetable seed stock and creating new varieties of veggies based on her experience as a small-scale vegetable farmer on her family’s land near Redwater. Malorie talked about her heritage livestock operation: she raises Mangalitsa pigs, Dexter cows and Chantecler chickens on her ranch near Bawlf. She also discussed some of the challenges that come with preserving the genetic stock of heritage breeds and how that differs from preserving plant seed stock.

Here are a couple quotes from the discussion:

The film talked about how much of the genetic diversity has been lost over the last 100, 150 years. And it’s true: there’s some things that we will never get back. But that doesn’t mean we can’t create new. Amateur seed savers and amateur vegetable breeders are the future of our food system. It is up to us, who garden, to save our seeds and either purposefully or accidentally cross and save and grow out and select for the genetics and the traits that you want. – Debra Krause

Livestock is one of the extra challenges. [The film] was talking about reviving some of the seeds after 10 years, but you can keep them in the bank for a few years and then revive them. It’s still lots of work, but with livestock you need to keep them alive year after year. You cannot put them in a bank.”– Malorie Aubé

The Edmonton Food Council would like to thank all of the presenters and attendees for making our first big event a success, as well as the Edmonton Food Bank for being a great host. We look forward to hosting more events soon!

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