Seed Library Grow-Outs

Seeds of Diversity's Canadian Seed Library is a collection of seeds that backs up the work of our member seed savers and Canadian heritage seed companies. As a not-for-profit project, we store back-up samples of Canadian seed, prioritizing rare and locally adapted varieties to be available for future gardeners and farmers.  

Community Grow-Outs Program 2020

This season, we are offering 3 grow-out projects in partnership with the EFAO and Bauta Family Initiative for Canadian Seed Security. If you already know you want to take part, you can sign up here.


Lettuce Seed Grow-Outs (beginner-friendly)

Are you interested in helping Seeds of Diversity renew and expand our Seed Library?  Every year we choose a vegetable to focus on, and this season we’re growing out lettuce. Anyone with a garden large enough for 10 heads of lettuce is welcome to join this project - even if you’ve never saved lettuce seed before. The deal: we send you seed for an uncommon lettuce, you start them as seedlings, transplant them to your garden, and record observations as they grow. Be warned! Other than nibbling on a few leaves to test for flavour, you won’t get to eat these lettuces. They’ll take an extra 6+ weeks in your garden to bolt and produce seed. You collect and clean the seed, then send some back to us to replenish the library. We’ll support you with instructions, reminders, and answers to any questions you have along the way.

Requirements: Space for at least 10 lettuce heads that you won't get to eat (~15sq ft)

Registration deadline: Mar 15


Squash Hand Pollination (intermediate/advanced)Squash

Want to save squash seed but don’t have enough isolation distance? As a Seed Bank, we find it difficult to find squash seed growers because many gardeners and farmers don't have the necessary 1.5km isolation distance to separate the variety for seed saving from other squash varieties. If you’re interested in saving squash seed, but don’t have enough isolation distance, we have a solution: sign up for our hands-on hand pollination experience! Participants will learn hand pollination techniques through a variety of educational resources and Q&A support throughout the process. This will require spending some evening and morning time in your garden early in the flowering season to prevent insects from transferring unwanted pollen, and carrying out the transfer yourself. You can watch this video to get a sense of what’s involved.


Here’s the deal: we send you squash seeds and support you in carrying out successful hand pollination; you grow the plants, perform hand pollinations, record observations, and send us back a portion of the seed you save - the rest is yours to enjoy and share.  


Requirements: Space for at least 6-8 sprawly squash plants (30-60sq ft)


Registration deadline: Mar 30


Ground Cherry Breeding Project (intermediate): 

Participatory Plant Breeding is not as complicated as it sounds, but it is more involved than just saving seed. Our Executive Director, Bob Wildfong, has been working on breeding a ground cherry variety with a more erect habit that makes the fruits easier to harvest. He’s ready to invite others to participate in the selection process.


There are many varieties of Physalis called "ground cherries" but we are focusing on the 1/2 inch pineapple-flavoured kind also known as cape gooseberries. They're called ground cherries because they fall to the ground when ripe, and since each berry is wrapped in its own paper husk they can be harvested just by picking them up. This is time-consuming, however, because the berries hide below the plants so they're hard to find. We've noticed that some plants stand up taller than others though, so they're much easier and quicker to harvest. Our breeding project is to select a strain of ground cherries that stand up tall, taste delicious, and produce abundantly.


We will send participants seeds that have already been selected from upright plants. Some will grow upright, but some will probably grow flat on the ground. Your job is to grow 15-25 plants (25+ sq ft of garden space) and save seeds from 20 ripe berries of the upright plants. You can eat the rest. Full instructions for planting and harvesting will be available, but be prepared to start the seeds indoors just like tomato and pepper seeds. After collecting seed from the best plants, you’ll send it back to be pooled with other growers’ best selections, moving towards a Collectively-Bred Erect Ground Cherry variety.


Requirements: 25-40sq ft of garden space & the ability to start seedlings indoors

Registration deadline: Feb 24


To take part part in a Community Grow-Out Project, sign up using THIS FORM


In addition to our Community Grow-Outs, we are always looking for experienced seed savers who can help multiply the especially rare seeds in our Canadian Seed Library collection.

If you're an experienced seed saver interested in helping with growing other crops, contact us at


Community Grow-Outs managed in partnership with:

EFAO logo

Bauta logo