Our Projects

Seeds Grow Food is a multi-pronged initiative where we work with gardeners and farmers to grow out heirloom seed and distribute it in the Kingston region. We facilitate seed, educate, build community capacity through our gardens, and help create regional self-reliance in food production.

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We enlist Seed Guardians who will foster heirloom varieties for the purposes of growing their own food, and of sharing seed with others. We have a small, free, seed-lending library in the works for 2015 that will extend our reach to backyard gardeners who haven’t yet discovered Seedy Saturday.

Seedy Saturday 2015 poster

Seedy Saturday is held annually in Kingston, usually on the second Saturday of March, and is one of KASSI’s primary contact points with backyard gardeners. This is where we celebrate with a fun community gathering, in happy anticipation of the growing season.

The highlight of the day is always the swap table, where selection changes throughout the day as people bring in their treasured seeds. To participate in the swap, bring your locally-adapted, open-pollinated, genetically-diverse, organically-grown (!) seeds in envelopes or jars that are labeled with the variety name and the date that the plant was grown.

There are presentations throughout the day on how to save seeds and build a local seed system, the chance to network with other community groups, and to attend workshops on anything from worm-composting to intellectual property rights.MouckBeansWeb

The Kingston Seedy Saturday got its start on Wolfe Island in 2008 and is going strong. In 2014, about 350 people attended the event. Contact the Seedy Saturday committee directly at seedysaturday@seedsgrowfood.org

Farmers’ Initiatives – We believe that without farmer participation, Kingston cannot achieve food security. As a small start in 2014, we obtained funding to pay three area farmers stipends to grow popular vegetable varieties for seed in bulk. This seed will be distributed in 2015. We also work with farmers to facilitate the expansion of their seed-production capability, in any aspect of the seed-production life cycle. We are especially interested in facilitating collective activities that spark forward momentum.

Seed Gardens – In addition, KASSI (using borrowed land) has two garden plots that volunteers plant, tend, and harvest solely for the production of seed. Our start-up seeds are a generous gift and trust from the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary, which has the mission of conserving a collection of about 400 different locally-adapted heirloom vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

KASSI’s mission differs from that of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul’s Sanctuary in that we are focused on bulking up available quantities, finding other diverse, well-adapted varieties to this region (beyond the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary collection), and distributing them to the gardening and farming community.

Community Partnerships – We also liaise with other regional organizations that are concerned about food security, endeavouring to ensure that our respective efforts are complementary, and don’t result in an unnecessary duplication of work.

RevMacDonald at SSUC garden

Rev. Elizabeth MacDonald at Sydenham St. United Church garden, Apr. 13, 2014.  SSUC’s garden is not a KASSI project, but we are collaborating with each other and exploring a more formal community partnership.

Through our alliances, we increase the reach of all of our organizations, learn from each other, and create opportunities that one organization alone cannot achieve.

Some of our allies are: Loving Spoonful, the GROW project, Sydenham Street United Church, Kingston Unitarian Fellowship, Ontario Natural Foods Co-op, Sustainable Kingston, National Farmers Union Local 316, and of course, the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary. We also continue to cultivate alliances with additional affinity organizations.

Land-and-Gardener Match-up Service – A number of area residents are willing to lend their land to gardeners interested in growing heirloom vegetables using organic/ sustainable methods. The gardeners must be willing to save a portion of the seed from their produce to share with the Seeds Grow Food project.

Some of these plots are in Kingston, some in the surrounding region. Please contact us at info@seedsgrowfood.org so we can match you up with a land-lender.

Presentations - Our topics for gardeners include basic plant life cyles and reproduction, and differences between growing food gardens and seed gardens. We also have a presentation for general audiences, regarding the issues surrounding seed conservation.

Please contact us at info@seedsgrowfood.org to arrange a presentation for your group.

Seed Storage – KASSI, funded by the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, arranged for a subset of the seed collection at the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary to be stored off-site in a temperature-controlled locker.

Seeds being stored in locker

Cate Henderson, left, and Sister Shirley Morris have stored a backup set of the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary collection in a locker.

Having a backup, sub-set, of the collection helps to protect the seeds.

If all the seeds are kept in one place, it could potentially be catastrophic if there were a fire, flooding, vandalism, etc.