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 2021

This season, we are offering 3 grow-out projects in partnership with the EFAO and Bauta Family Initiative for Canadian Seed Security.

Signups for our 2021 program are now closed.

Check back in January 2022 for our next round!


Save One Rare Variety Challenge (beginner-friendly)

This one is available to Seeds of Diversity members only: Sometimes scrolling through our Member Seed Directory can be overwhelming. There are so many seeds - which should you try? If you got into seed saving because you wanted to make a difference, here's how.

Choose one interesting variety from the Seed Directory that is offered by only one person. Grow it, save the seeds, and offer them the the Directory next year. It sounds simple, but it makes a huge difference for that variety because it doubles the number of people growing it and offering seeds. If every member did this one simple challenge, every single vulnerable variety in the Directory would be instantly a lot more safe.

Requirements: Be(come) a Seeds of Diversity Member. Enough space for a minimum population and isolation distance of your chosen variety.

Registration deadline: Mar 15


Save An Old Seed (intermediate/advanced)

While the seeds adopted into our Seed Library are tested and maintained on a regular basis, we also have several "orphaned" seeds that have not been adopted yet. From time to time we receive small packets of seeds from old collections, seed exchanges, and other places, and we need help multiplying and rejuvenating them so that they can be properly adopted into the collection in the future.

We're looking for seed savers with experience saving seeds from tomatoes and beans and - most importantly - who understand that the seeds might germinate poorly or not at all, but that we have no back-ups so they will have to take all the seeds and do their best to grow them out.

  • There is only one chance to regrow each of these seed samples. We encourage you to help, but only if you feel fully confident in your ability to save bean and/or tomato seeds.
  • You'll have to pre-sprout the bean / tomato seeds indoors, then transplant all the seedlings to your garden after danger of frost
  • If even one seed sprouts, you have to be prepared to grow it out and save seeds. But if none grow, you should be fore-warned for this disappointment. (If it happens, it's definitely not your fault).

Sound okay? Are you up for the responsibility of growing a seed that we can't replace? Are you up for the disappointment of the seeds not sprouting at all? Then you can be our next seed hero! Keep in mind that even a failed grow-out attempt is better than having these seeds die abandoned in a jar. They will only get older...

Requirements: Space for 20' of beans &/or 12 tomato plants. Isolation distance of 20' from any other beans or tomatoes. Well-lit, warm space to grow seedlings to transplant to your garden (yes for the beans too!)


Registration deadline: Mar 1


Ground Cherry Breeding Project (intermediate): 

Participatory Plant Breeding is not as complicated as it sounds, but it is more involved than just saving seed. Last year more than 50 people joined our project to develop an upright-growing variety of ground cherry (Physalis pruinosa). They sowed our selected seeds and saved new seeds from the plants that grew upright instead of flat on the ground. Then they sent those seeds back to our office where we mixed them all together for Year 2. The result should be a population of ground cherries with more upright plants, making them easier to harvest.

This year, we want your help to take the next step:

  • We'll send you a packet of Year 2 seeds, saved from all those gardens last year.
  • Grow as many plants as you can (20 to 50 would be a good range to aim for).
  • Uproot the short-bearing plants that grow flat on the ground, to prevent them from crossing with the tall-bearing plants.
  • Taste the berries and keep seeds only from the ones that have excellent flavour.

It will take a few more years to get the results we hope for, but every time we repeat this process we should get closer to the goal of a ground cherry that tastes great, and bears on upright (easy to harvest) plants.

Requirements: 25-40sq ft of garden space & the ability to start seedlings indoors at 20-25C 8 weeks before transplanting

Registration deadline: Feb 20


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 our Seed Library Co-Ordinator


Community Grow-Outs managed in partnership with:

EFAO logo

Bauta logo