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Back to November 2014 Newsletter

2014 ECOSGN Conference in Montreal

Eastern Canada's second bi-annual conference for organic seed producers was a hit with 110 farmers who travelled from as far as Thunder Bay and St. John's to meet in Montreal.

ECOSGN, the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers' Network, is a group of seed growers, organized by seed growers for mutual learning and market development. ECOSGN has always worked as a farmer-to-farmer information sharing network, and the structure of the conference reflected that. A little more than one-third of the participants were also speakers.

Back in 2008, ECOSGN began when Andrea Berry and Dan Brisebois invited organic seed growers to meet together on a Sunday afternoon in Montreal. Seeds of Diversity booked a meeting room. We didn’t know whether anyone would show up.

But that afternoon the room filled up with people who wanted to learn more about organic seeds, how to produce them, and how to build a viable business around them. We knew it was the start of something important.

Since then, members of the ECOSGN network have hosted on-farm demonstrations, brought notable speakers to meetings in Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton, and organized two top-notch conferences in 2012 and 2014.

Our weekend began with a field trip to les Jardins de l’Écoumène, an organic seed farm and retail company in the Laurentians, a few hours from Montreal, which has grown to serve customers throughout Quebec. The tour was fascinating, and our hosts Jean-François Lévêque and Guylaine St-Vincent were gracious to the large group, and generous with their knowledge and experience.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with twelve sessions and 36 presenters, on subjects ranging from potato propagation, ecological grain production, on-farm plant breeding, and germination testing, to overviews of community seed libraries and commercial seed regulations.

Our keynote speakers gave an international perspective on seed diversity: Isabelle Goldringer of the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique in France, told us about her research on on-farm adaptation of organic wheat; and Andrew Still and Sarah Kleeger of Adaptive Seeds told us the story of their adventures in Eastern Europe, meeting seed savers and collecting seeds that were unavailable in the west until the fall of the Iron Curtain. 

Thank you to the many volunteers who helped make this conference happen - the organizers, the volunteer translators, the promoters, and drivers. Thank you also to the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security for supporting the conference's planning and logistics. We had a great time, and we'll see you there again in 2016!


Back to November 2014 Newsletter

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