The Growing Garden, Building Projects, and Squash Pollination Anticipation

It has been a long time since we posted, so I hope you’ve been able to keep up with us somewhat on Facebook! As you may guess, the farm is just exploding with growth and has been keeping us farmer types very busy.

Our volunteer lettuces are flowering!

We are presently in the middle of our harvest season and highlights of recent share boxes have included new potatoes, beets, the beginnings of cucumbers and zucchini, and even a few carrots from doing our thinning! Today we were noticing that it will soon be time for beans and maybe even some tomatoes! As everything has its season, we’ve reached the end of the pea harvests but we may experiment with planting a second round of peas to harvest late in the summer or in early fall.

The beet harvest. Look at that lovely colour!

The first of the carrots!

Besides harvests, it has been a season of weeding, watering, and pruning tomatoes. We are experimenting with a new (to us) method of staking our tomatoes that involves hanging twine from wire strung above the beds and then training the tomatoes up the twine as they grow. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of that to show you at the moment but I’ll add some asap. It is interesting how the addition of some vertical structures can really change the look of our fields!

Not only are we maintaining and harvesting at the farm, but we are also building! We finally decided that the time has come to replace our tarp-roofed shade set-up with something a little more permanent that doesn’t hit us on the top of the head when it is windy :)  So, this week, Farmer Kenton and Farmer Emeritus Matt took on a shade producing construction project. Today the metal sheeting went up on the larger half and it is fantastic! Even that half roof gives us a lot more shade than we had before and a much more functional space in which we can bunch vegetables and set up the share pick-up table.

The new shade structure and our Thursday harvest set-up. You can’t tell from this angle, but in person, it almost looks a little like the prow of a ship!

We often have visitors at the farm but this month one of the visitor highlights was an evening at the beginning of July where we were visited by a voluntary simplicity class from the U of W and Mark Burch, an author and expert on voluntary simplicity, for some learning about connection to the land, rhythms of nature, and the “simple” life. It was fun to get them working in the soil and to hear their reflections on what they’ve been learning about in class and how that might connect to what we do here at the farm!

Mark and the voluntary simplicity class in the seed saving circle.

Finally, we’ve got some exciting seed saving coming up! If you are in Winnipeg and interested in learning about pollinating the Cucurbitaceae family (cucumbers, squash, zucchini) for seed saving you should come to one of the pollination workshops being hosted at the farm! Check out the poster below for more details.

Squash pollination workshop poster

We hope you’re having a great summer so far! Feel free to stop by the farm for a visit and see what’s growing!

CSOP, Rain and Patience

Two weeks ago the CMU Farmers partook in a Canadian School of Peacebuilding course led by Norman Wirzba.  As an author and co-author, Wirzba has written on theological perspectives of care for creation and how food sits at the centre of that equation.  We were glad to have him with us for the week, and on the Wednesday were able to travel with the class to Cedar Lane Farm in Neubergthal.  For those of you who have followed our Facebook for awhile, you’ll know that the CMU Farmers like to get out to Cedar Lane Farms at least once a year for a “field trip” so it was great to be able to go again and hear more from Terry and Monique about their farm.

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Terry talks about rotational grazing

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Talking about his new Canadienne cows

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Explaining the learning curve of using horses for farm work

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Class photo at the farm

We’d had some heat before hand, but with the big rains right before and at the beginning of CSOP it ended up being a good time to sit and learn and recharge while the Farm dried out.

At the end of the week, CSOP held its closing program at the Farm, planting squash together as a symbol of the continued work of cultivating peace with the land.  The squash will live on at the Farm and eventually feed those who have committed themselves to the land this season, both farmers and sharers.

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CSOP closing program at the Farm

The weeks following CSOP were overcast and cool.  The forecast called for rain most days, but it always seemed to miss the Farm, keeping us in what seemed like a cold, damp holding pattern.  Seed was having trouble germinating, and things that were up seemed frozen in time.  With the carrots, beets, and parsnips especially we eventually figured so much time had passed, the seed that wasn’t up must have rotted in the ground. We began to contemplate reseeding areas that were bare.  Then slowly, about a week or two ago, we started to see germination.  Carrot rows planted 3 weeks earlier began to germinate, parsnips planted a month previous were coming out of the ground!  Here we had done all this worrying, but things were still emerging!  Exhilaration, exasperation, and stupification I’m sure were felt by all farmers.  It was an interesting combination of feelings and really reinforced how not in control we are of this whole situation – farming is an inherently risky task.  It still remains to be seen what will all emerge, it will take patience.  I imagine with the heat we will hopefully get this weekend we’ll see more things popping up.  And we did have to reseed beets and Swiss chard.

Babying the beet bed

Babying the beet bed

Next in weather news was all the wacky weather over the July long weekend.  Although we didn’t get as much rain as expected at the Farm, paths and other low areas retained pools of water over 24 hours after the rains stopped.  What was more damaging for our plants ended up being the wind.  Tomato plants were bent over and some new bean plants were stripped of their broad leaves.  The row cover flew off the cabbages and many of the onion greens broke or bent over in the wind.  Overall the damage could have been worse, and most everything will recover.  Things that weren’t batted around seemed to enjoy the drink of water and many plants visibly grew over the weekend.

Sitting water in the potatoes

Sitting water in the potatoes

The cold temperatures and stormy weather left us wondering if it would be feasible to start our share boxes this week after all, but after a walk about on the weekend we decided there was enough.  This is the nature of CSA, this is the nature of eating seasonally and locally (factor in local weather patterns!), this is the nature of being connected to land.  And the season has to start at some point.

This week, sharers are getting kale, beet greens, green onions, cilantro, oregano, basil, dill, garlic scapes, peas, and full shares also get a head of lettuce.  For all of this we are grateful!

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First share box pick-up of the season

Seedlings in the greenhouse

Seedlings in the greenhouse

The Farm on the morning of this seasons first share day

The Farm on the morning of this seasons first share day

Post Planting Push

Wow, it has been awhile since our last post!  We have been running like the wind with planting and other projects between then and now and have hopefully not left you feeling too out of the loop.

Our first big accomplishment in that time was finishing the construction of our fence.  It took many work hours and some dedicated volunteer time to finally put it up, but it’s there!  It’s a pretty good looking fence too, and we’ve already witnessed its ability to keep the deer out so we’re excited that it’s doing its job.

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We’ve had two volunteer work days over the past two weeks.  Our first work day we put in all our tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as a bunch of onions.  Our second work day was last Friday, and we got the squash, cabbage, zucchini, and last of the lettuces in which was the LAST of what we had to plant!! There will be succession plantings of things throughout the summer, but this marked the end of the big spring push.  And so the rain this weekend has been an extra blessing for us.  Not so much for the marathoners, jazz festers, or father’s day-ers, but we have quite enjoyed it!

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What a silly spring it seems to have been.  Less than two weeks after our final snow fall we were experiencing temperatures more characteristic of August than May, but then last week was cooler again.  All the heat plus precipitation that always seemed to miss us made for some very dry conditions at the farm.  Our drip irrigation system becomes very valuable to us in these cases.  We have our tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and cabbage on drip irrigation.  Watering can take a surprisingly long time in a space as large as ours, and not only does the drip save us time and labour, but it also helps us use our water resources more efficiently.

You may have heard on the news this spring that flea beetles have been especially frustrating to city gardeners this year.  Apparently the canola crop they normally eat was a few weeks behind, so they went looking for other brassica family plants, which include radishes, kale, cabbage, broccoli, arugula, etc.  So what that meant for us was that as soon as our radishes emerged they were munched.  And despite our best efforts with natural and homemade pesticides (garlic fire-water it was called) in about a week our entire radish crop was destroyed.  It’s a good reminder of how CSA farming works, where the inherent risks of farming are shared between the eater and grower.  And while it’s disappointing to loose an early share box item, it means we work to supplement with other items instead.  The good news is that the cabbages and kale were hardly effected (as transplants they were in our little greenhouse structure and less accessible to the beetles)..

This upcoming week the CMU Farmers are sitting in for parts of a Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP) class entitled Food, Farming and Faith: Living in God’s Creation taught by Norman Wirzba. The course is offered right here at CMU.  We’re looking forward to learning from Wirzba and being reminded again about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of what we do.  So if you swing by the farm this week and don’t see us, that is most likely where we’re at.  We plan to be at the farm Tuesday and Thursday during the day.

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I had to end with this cutie!  We had quite the mice infestation at the beginning of the year so we “loaned” some farm cats from a farmer friend of ours.  Houdini and Menno are brother and sister (above is Menno) and they are very friendly cats!  About two weeks ago Menno took off and we haven’t seen her since.  We’re still hoping she finds her way back to us, and should she be with kittens you might receive an extra surprise in your first share box ;)

Oh, and for those wondering when first share boxes will be available, the jury is still out, but we might be looking at the last week of June or first week in July.  If we get some nice warm weather now after this rain things might suddenly start coming along very quickly.  Either way, we’ll send you an email about a week in advance of the first share boxes.

Putting the “Urban” in Urban Agriculture

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We seem to have done more general contracting work than farming last week, such are the joys of our urban environment. We came to a conclusion about our fencing options and put our plan in motion – purchase our own materials, hire a contractor to install our cedar posts, then rely on the skill and friendship of our community to put up the wire. So last week ‘Larry and the boys’ (contractors Kenton found in the Yellow Pages – not the actual company name) took a day and a half to sight, dig, place, and pack limestone for all 80+ posts around the perimeter of the Farm. Our wildlife fencing (page wire of different sizes) is to come some time this week, and we’ve already heard of some great ideas to make it’s installation more expedient. If you have some spare time, we’ll most likely still need a significant contingent for this portion. Keep an eye on our facebook page for dates (most likely this week, maybe the weekend).

Through the middle, grassy section of the Farm we have some hydro lines that have been important to both the police station and library construction projects, to the west and east of us respectively, so we’ve been working with contractors that need to access them for the last 2 or so years. This week they were around again with 3 huge trucks inside our fence (didn’t realize there space enough to ever do that!). That overlapped some with Larry and the boys for another day and a half of construction. This Friday they’ll be back to finish up one last thing and maybe that will be it for the season. Nice folks, they were. Brought us coffee break!

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Finally, a pile of top soil scraped up from the library site was left for our access. We’ve wanted to build up the south end of our space that’s been plagued with a combination of rocky soil and poor water drainage. So this long weekend we moved and graded what we needed with a skid steer. Turns out the pile contained a lot more clay than we expected, and while the space is now built up, our next task will be to make a few passes with a tiller before it dries to a cement-like consistency. Ah, another soil remediation project.

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On a more positive note, arugula, salad mix, swiss chard, parsnips, carrots, cilantro and spinach are in the ground, extra basil, lettuce and cabbages are succession planted into trays, and in addition to garlic and radishes, our beets and onion sets have made an appearance!

Finally Planting!

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Friend of the Farm, Matt Dueck and CMU Farmer, Julie Derksen starting seeds last weekend.

As of today, onions, garlic, peas, beets, potatoes, and radishes are in the ground!  Succession plantings of summer savoury, rosemary, kale, cucumbers, and fennel have been seeded into trays and placed in the cold frame.  While it looks like we may have one or two below freezing nights coming up yet this week, soon enough it will be time to pick up our first round of transplants from the good folks at Room to Grow.  There’s something about the immediate vertical nature of transplants (and pea trellises, for that matter) that really make things feel like they’re coming along quickly.

If our last 3 seasons are any indication, we’re maybe 5 or 6 weeks away from our first share box pick-ups.  So far we have about half of our shares sold.  This is always a place of slight panic with a good dose of moderation.  We haven’t started marketing aggressively yet or shoulder-tapping anyone, but at the same time we’re putting seed in the ground as if these veggies are already spoken for.  It’s a place we’ve been in each season, so we’re not strangers to it, and it generally always works out in the end.

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The Gnome Gname Game has begun! Have a great idea for a name? Let us know!

So we went shopping last week to T&T with a quick stop at Shelmerdines as well.  Somewhere a long the way we picked up a garden gnome!  As you’ve probably seen on our Facebook page, we’re working to “Gname the Gnome”.  So far, suggestions have included Dennis, Gnorman, Svenne, William, and Timothy.  Our gnome wears a stylish garment of fresh green leaves, with sturdy logs for shoes.  His hat is made of tree bark adorned with moss.  He wears a fine leather belt with over-sized buckle, and in his right hand he carries a handy rake.  His left hand is mischievously folded behind his back and compliments the slight twinkle in his kind eyes.  If you have a good name suggestion, leave it on our Facebook.  We hope to have name for him before the start of the season!

We had a most distressing loss at the Farm over the weekend.  The carrots grown out last year for seed saving were put in the ground last week, only to be eaten by some opportunistic deer!  A years worth of work simply gone!  It brought into sharp relief the need for the new fence we’re putting up this year.  As we’ve started looking at the amount of labour and time requirement it would take to fence our space we’ve also begun looking more closely at the feasibility of hiring the “professionals” to do the work for us.  So far it looks like financially this might be out of our reach, but we keep exploring our options.  Fence building is no small task during an already busy time of year.

One final note, a list of what we’re growing and the stories behind our varieties will be up on the blog within the next few days!  I know we’ve had some folks wondering what we’re all growing this year, so we’re working hard on that this week.

Jeanette

The Weather is Warming

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Feels so wonderful to be out on the land again. As if my shoulders have been hunched all the impossibly-long-winter long and only now can experience a break. Not only is it good to get my hands dirty, but it is good to reconnect with my fellow farmers as we’ve been dispersed to all parts of the city – and even province – all winter long.

And already there is lots to do. Green annual weeds are already visible! We had some construction activity over the winter, this time in regards to the library, and it’s left some loose ends to tie up that we’re working around for the moment. Soil samples need to be taken and tested, tools need to be assessed for repair, our shelter needs to be put into summer order again.

We’ve decided to cut down on tilling this year, opting instead to plant directly into beds as much as possible. That will be a fun experiment! And we’ve committed to more record keeping and paperwork this year to better know where we’re at on many fronts. You can ask us how we’re keeping up on that throughout the year, I’m sure you’ll get some good answers!

Tonight our ‘seed saver in residence’ (if she’ll allow me to call her that!) is starting up the weekly Thursday night seed saving gathering. You’re all welcome to attend throughout the season. They start at 7pm and I think tonight they’re doing some outside work and also leaning about silica storage techniques. Caroline is a rock star, so make sure you get the chance to learn from her this summer!

This Saturday we will be out all day as well. We’ve employed the labour of a farmer’s partner to work on moving some of that soil mound at the south end onto our lower spots, making them more usable to us after seasons of flooding and rocky soil in those areas.

A new fence is also on the horizon for us this year. We’ve received some money from CMU Student Council (thank you!) and the Bauta Foundation through Caroline (thank you!) to cover the costs. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep more unwanted critters out this way. Last year we had an issue with deer eating our succession planted carrots, beets, and beans, as well as some kale and all our brussel sprouts, so hopefully we won’t have a repeat!

It’s our 4th season, we’re super excited for what it will all bring us! And we hope to see you around some time!

Jeanette

Seed Saving Initiative Gets a Boost

The CMU Farmers Collective collaborates with Métis seed saver Caroline Chartrand of the Métis Horticulture & Heritage Society to save local heritage varieties from becoming extinct (remember our Gete Okosomin squash from last year?).  Recently Caroline has received some support to expand her seed saving efforts, and has partnered with the Canadian Mennonite University, and others to develop an indigenous-led local seed library at the University – these are exciting times!  As part of this work, Caroline is looking for volunteers to help her grow out seed, and stock the library.  Read on to find out about this exciting initiative and how you can get involved!

Kenton Lobe and Caroline Chartrand holding Arikara and Gete Okosomin squash that were seed saved at the CMU Farm in 2013.
Kenton Lobe and Caroline Chartrand holding Arikara and Gete Okosomin squash that were seed saved at the CMU Farm in 2013.

Grower Application Form 2014

Foundations for a Regional Seed Library
Sharing Land and Seeds

by Caroline Chartrand

Status of the Security of our Local and Regional Agricultural Heritage

As many of you may know, the security of our seed supply, and ultimately our food, is in a state of crisis. In the past hundred years, it is estimated that between 75 to 95% of vegetable varieties once a part of the human commons both on a local and global scale, have gone extinct. The vast majority of those left are threatened. Currently, we are experiencing a 6% yearly extinction rate. Furthermore, in 2010, 3,795 varieties were available from only one commercial source in Canada.

There are several factors at play that have brought us to this state.

From the beginnings of agriculture, the seeds were in the hands of those who ate the harvest. Seeds were always saved to ensure the food security for next year and future generations; it was a necessity.

We may never know how many thousands of varieties of traditional crops like corn, beans and squash were lost to the Americas as millions of Indigenous peoples’ traditions and knowledge systems were wiped out or eroded in the past 500 years of colonialism due to the ensuing chaos as huge populations were decimated due to the spread of disease, loss of land, displacement, war, extinction of traditional wildlife which maintained local environments and legislation that damaged local cultures, traditions and identities.

Just over one hundred years ago, seeds became available commercially on a large scale. Not only was it easier to simply purchase seed but the government also promoted the larger scale agricultural dream in their pursuit of the development of the ‘great west’ and thus many seed saving knowledge and skills were lost along with locally and regionally adapted seeds, as the practice of seed saving was abandoned.

Then, in the early 1900s, hybrids were sold on a massive scale and farmers abandoned their open-pollinated regional varieties for the ‘new and improved’ hybrids. Huge mono-crops were planted (vast areas of a single crop). Our diverse, locally adapted agricultural heritage died in jars on shelves, displaced by hybrid seeds produced outside of local regions. At the same time, small seed companies were bought out by multinationals interested only in marketing the few bestsellers as opposed to a diverse range.

Today, we can hear the seeds speak if we look back at history. For example, in the mid 1800s potatoes became a staple in Ireland; however, all the potatoes grown were descendents from only two parents. A blight struck, devastating the crops and left over 1 million people dead from starvation. In Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity, Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney report that in the U.S. in 1971, a corn blight struck half the corn of the southern states. In The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Seed, Janisse Ray says traditionally, there were 100,000 distinct varieties of wheat…Now, half the wheat grown in the United States is nine varieties…think of the consequences if a wheat blight were to descend.

Paradigm Shift

A change in thinking about the value of our lost seeds emerged from the series of food crises that began to become evident in all corners of the globe. People want the seeds of our human commons back in the hands of those who consume the food.

But why worry, why not just breed more new varieties of non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds? Well, while vintage varieties would continue to be displaced by these new varieties, the world’s bucket of seeds, the raw material needed to make the new ones, continues to leak as we speak. Seeds of Diversity Canada’s website, at http://www.seeds.ca, says that 6% of Canadian heritage seeds continue to go extinct every year. This extinction happens because the old varieties get displaced by the new. In Canada, 3,795 varieties are only available from one commercial source. There will be time for breeding new plants once the leaky bucket is plugged. New varieties would displace the old that are not being saved, that continue to go extinct. This can only happen when we, the eaters, take our responsibility for our seed security. Participation in our seed library is one way to play a crucial role!

Local food security, food sovereignty, is based on a local and diverse seed supply maintained by skilled seed savers and local consumers. In the Andes, the centre of origin for potatoes, the traditional crop insurance system was based on a wide diversity of varieties, as each farmer grew up to 50 varieties in a field. A single blight could never wipe out a whole area. The solution to Ireland’s potato blight was found in the genes of a resistant old Andean potato variety.

There is a taste adventure inside all those old varieties we don’t miss because we have never tasted them. Ancient varieties of beans have been tested to hold 10 times the nutrients as new varieties. The desirable traits we are seeking are waiting to be rediscovered in our vintage varieties on the brink of being gone forever. The ancient varieties with a deep gene pool hold strong resilient adaptation power.

In Janise Ray’s book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Seed, she tells the story of a wise seed saver, Sylvia Davatz of Vermont, who says that the system is not only broken, but destructive…and self-destructive; the real power is making the system irrelevant. That means non-participation in the existing broken system. With time and commitment, enough seed savers will make the broken system irrelevant. Seed security depends upon a diverse range of locally adapted seeds grown by local consumers in local gardens, passing on quality seeds and seed saving skills to the next generation!

Local Response

In 1997, a local grassroots initiative was founded under the leadership of Caroline Chartrand. Along with allies, the Métis-led Métis Horticulture & Heritage Society (MHHS) was founded to rediscover and restore our agricultural heritage, for the history of the Red River Métis and our homeland includes the history and heritage of Manitoba and the Red River Métis Homeland. We have always invited the participation of all interested parties!

Initial research identified over one hundred varieties of garden vegetables grown in the Red River area in the 1800’s. This list was faxed to the Canadian Government’s Seed Bank, Plant Gene Resources of Canada. They only had three of these distinct varieties! This reflects statistics that show that in Canada, 75% of vegetable varieties have gone extinct within the past hundred years. Now, the vast majority of the remainder is available from very few, private, or unknown sources! The MHHS now has a current inventory of many dozens of varieties, many of which are not currently commercially available. For the past 15 years, MHHS has been stewarding seeds as our Métis ancestors did in our Red River Homeland for generations.

When the Canadian Mennonite University Farmers established their Community Shared Agriculture initiative, they took a leadership role and made a unique commitment to growing only open-pollinated heritage seeds. They have consistently supported the work of establishing an indigenous-led community seed bank, by voluntarily sharing their land and labour, to assist in growing out seeds in the MHHS seed bank on their farm in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We have worked together while developing our seed saving and training skills, including implementing the squash pollinating relay team developed by the MHHS.

When the Mennonites immigrated to Manitoba in the 1880’s, the local Métis were there to greet them at the Mennonite landing on the Red River just south of Winnipeg, to transport them with their Red River carts to immigration sheds, and ultimately, to the areas in southern Manitoba where they settled. Descendents of these two groups are reviving an historic relationship in the garden, sharing land and seeds.

This project is a partnership between many like-minded organizations, funders, and communities including the MHHS, CMU Farmers’ Collective, Mennonite Heritage Centre, Mennonite Church Canada, Food Matters Manitoba, the White Earth Seed Library and the Indigenous Regional Seed Library Network. The goal of the project is to lay the ‘Foundations for an Indigenous-led Regional Seed Library’, beginning with the seeds in our current collection. We invite you, our local and regional community, to assist us in multiplying our seeds for future public assess!

Ways to Participate:

1) Growing seeds in my own garden.

  • This position is for people with intermediate seed saving and gardening skills—for those who feel confident in growing open pollinated varieties.
  • Knowledge of and willingness to learn and abide by our isolation distances and population sizes is crucial to maintain the quality and integrity of seed varieties, to maintain the trust of those depending on our seeds for their livelihood (eg CSA farmers and market gardeners), and the reputation of our Seed Library.
  • Coaching and mentoring for seed selection and roguing will be provided as needed. Please refer to How to Save Your Own Seeds 2013 edition, available for only 15.00 including shipping at http://www.seeds.ca.
  • Information on seed saving training at CMU Farm will be provided as it becomes available; please see # 2, 3 and 4 below.
  • Seed growers will be required to make observations of varieties (don’t worry we will have forms- see a sample observation form at : http://www.seeds.ca/proj/tomato/Desc_Tomato_EN.pdf )
  • Time Commitment: Must be available to tend to crop maintenance, observation, rouging and seed selection and harvest for the entire growing season. We highly recommend having at least one or two people to work with you to pass on and share your experience, and for back up in case of unexpected situations when you may not be available (eg. out of town funeral, health reasons, etc.).

Please fill out and send us the Grower Application Form found at the bottom of this post to help us assess your available space and situation in order to meet required population sizes and isolation distances and to identify crops you are interested in growing for our seed library.

2) Join our ‘Squash’ pollinating relay teams at CMU Farm! No Experience necessary!

  • The technique is the same for all members of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, watermelon, squash and gourds, which we may also be pollinating at CMU Farm!
  • Training and practice will be available in early July, using a common variety like zucchini started earlier, so everyone is ready, trained and confident for the rare and/or ‘low quantity’ varieties. All from beginner to advanced seed savers welcome!
  • Trainees must attend both evening and morning training sessions as morning sessions include different tasks as a follow up to the evening sessions. Homework: Please review How to Save Your Own Seeds pages 4-21 and 50-61, available at http://www.seeds.ca for only $15.00 including shipping (one of our non-profit partner organizations).
  • Training will include many practices as well as observation charts not included in the book, plus hands on demonstration and practice.
  • Those trained will be expected to sign up for morning and evening pollinating shifts in groups of two from Mid-July to mid-August.
  • Time Commitment: am sessions usually 7 am Mon-Fri, 8 am week-ends, pm sessions usually 6:30 pm
  • We will send out meeting doodles with week day and week-end time slots in need of filling.

We request trainees commit to at least 6 or more! pollinating shifts in exchange for the ‘free’ training. The more practice, the better to hone our skills!

Please email both Caroline and Brielle at briellebeaudin@gmail.com and cchartrandseed@outlook.com to confirm your interest so we can plan for how many people will be attending training and joining our teams. (ie.This will help us determine how many varieties from the squash family to grow at the CMU Farm). We will then follow up with more information and questions for you!

3) Stewarding seeds at Seed Demonstration and Learning Gardens at CMU Farm on the Northwest corner of Grant and Shaftsbury, Winnipeg.

  • We meet every Thursday rain or shine from 6:30-8:30 pm.
  • (We have indoor rain plans and/or bring rain gear!)
  • Free seed saving training and skill sharing in exchange for your sweat equity.
  • Beginners learn new skills and intermediate and advanced seed savers hone seed saving, training and mentoring skills!
  • Time Commitment is flexible; tasks are prioritized and training is delivered on Thursdays 6:30-8:30. Volunteers may return on their own schedule for follow up tasks.
  • There will be occasional work bees scheduled for big jobs like garden bed prep and fence installation, TBA. Some week-ends and potlucks!

Please email both Caroline and Brielle at briellebeaudin@gmail.com and cchartrandseed@outlook.com to confirm your interest. We will be sending out a questionnaire soon to determine levels of commitment for planning purposes.

4) Programming and administration

  • This is a great position for those who don’t have the time commitment or ability to garden, but believe in the cause of seed saving and want to offer their strengths and abilities in other ways that are also extremely helpful to our projects!
  • Some of these positions may be very flexible and will include tasks such as:
      • Starting seeds indoors and hardening off
      • Aiding administrators and coordinators with tasks
      • Managing data from gardening observations
      • Organizing seed library
      • Overseeing volunteer coordination
      • Promotion of project: posters, events etc.
      • Grant proposal writing
      • Photographic documentation
      • Computer expertise and tutoring in specialized areas
      • Research
      • ETC!
  • Time Commitment: Flexible or TBA.

Please email both Caroline and Brielle at briellebeaudin@gmail.com and cchartrandseed@outlook.com to confirm your interest.

Benefits of Volunteering:

Be proud, you are addressing food security for future generations!

Knowledge and skill building – honing skills!

Networking & building community!

Playing important roles in a grassroots community effort in founding a regionally adapted seed library for local seed security and seed sovereignty!

Enjoying the benefits and fruit of your labor!

Grower Application Form 2014