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Back to July 2021 Newsletter

Seed Grow-outs in Jeopardy, and a Whole Seed Collection is Lost

Every year we send a few hundred samples of rare seeds from our Seed Library to our member seed growers, who re-grow the seeds so that we all can have more of them. We never send our very last seeds, because lots of things can happen in a garden, and we expect that unexpected losses will happen.

But this summer has been like no other. Many of our most dedicated and skilled seed growers are in B.C. and the prairies, dealing with extreme heat and drought that they have never experienced before. Although many of our seed growouts are still safe in their hands, there are some that are irrecoverably damaged by heat stress in the early season, and others that might survive but not bear seeds.

Tragically, we know of at least two members who were saving seeds in Lytton, BC, the town which was virtually destroyed by wildfire last month in the hottest heat wave ever recorded in Canada. As far as we know, their gardens and their seeds are gone.

30-Year-Old Seed Collection Destroyed in Lytton BC

The Planting Seeds Project, a community-driven project founded by one of our seed heroes, Mojave Kaplan, has collected climate-resilient seeds in the Fraser Valley for 30 years. The difficult growing conditions of the mountainous region made a perfect place to test seeds for adaptability to heat, drought, and rapidly changing weather.

From the Planting Seeds Project:

Established in 1991, we continue to grow resiliency into seeds in Lytton, the Hot Spot of BC. Benefiting from our challenging climate conditions of extreme heat and cold, wind, drought, fire inversions, and difficult soils, it is natural for our seeds to learn survival skills.

Over time, Mojave collected the best varieties for those growing conditions and offered them through the Planting Seeds Project. Last month's shocking news of the wildfire that destroyed Lytton came as a double-shock to fans of the Project when it was confirmed that the seed collection was destroyed in the fire.

Read the CBC News article:

Although the collection itself was destroyed, it is too early to know whether any of Mojave's selected seeds are lost forever. The true resiliency of seeds is that they can be shared, grown, and saved by others. Already, gardeners who obtained seeds from the Planting Seeds Project are donating them back, so that this uniquely curated seed collection can be restored.


Support Your Local Seed Collections

You can help secure the safety net for seeds! Seed savers are collecting the seeds that you'll grow next year, but to make sure that those seeds are available every year after that, you can help them build up seed collections. Well-stored seeds can last for many years, and if they are kept in several safe, dry, and cool locations they can remain available for gardeners well into the future -- and for seed savers to re-multiply them to re-stock the collections.

Everyone can, and should, have a role in safeguarding our future seeds. Whether you save the seeds yourself, help coordinate a local collection, organize a seed swap, or simply donate to help with the costs of a collection, you can help prevent more losses of our precious seed diversity.

Seeds of Diversity helps local seed collections and seed swaps - it's what we've always done - and we use all of our charitable donations to support locally grown, biodiverse, seed saving programs in Canada.



"Drought corn" by CraneStation is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Back to July 2021 Newsletter

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