Seeds of Diversity Canada
Started in 1984 in response to concerns that historically, culturally, and ecologically important heritage plants were in danger of being lost forever, Seeds of Diversity Canada has nearly 1,500 active members, mostly volunteers, dedicated to preserving heirloom plants. With the growing commercialization of food production and garden plant cultivation, genetically diverse and distinct heirloom plants were becoming endangered. The practice of saving and sharing seeds and passing on successful and unique strains from generation to generation is being forgotten quickly.
Patrizia Ramacieri, long-time board member and President says the members are the backbone of the organization, "Not only do our members provide much of our funding, they fulfill our core mission".
Plant Gene Resources of Canada (PGRC), Canada’s federal seed bank, gives non-proprietary vegetable and grain seeds to members to grow. They record observations for yield, quality, disease resistance etc. for inclusion in PGRC’s publicly accessible online database.
The regular rejuvenation of our vegetable and grain seeds is extremely important because it gives them the opportunity to adapt to ongoing climatic change. Seeds of Diversity now has its own online heritage varieties database with descriptions, stories, history, cultivation details, and member gardeners’ comments on 18,957 different cultivars of Canadian garden vegetables, fruit, grains and ornamentals. This growing database will help ensure that gardeners’ invaluable and irreplaceable knowledge doesn’t get lost.
While many member-driven charities constantly scramble for ways to keep their memberships active and involved, Patrizia says it’s never been a problem. "It’s in the gardening spirit to share – gardeners are passionate about what they do and they feel a social and environmental responsibility to do it. There is a real sense of community and shared purpose."