Getting Canadian Farmers the Peer Support they Need

June 20, 2022

Time and time again, farmers tell us that peer exchanges are one of the best ways to expand their knowledge of farming practices – much better than relying on companies selling farming inputs, like fertilizers and pesticides, for their main source of training. 

It’s a little known fact that farmers in Canada today do not have as much access to quality training and plant breeding support as they once had. Historically, the federal government played a major role in supporting public plant breeding to develop new crops adapted to the needs of Canadian farmers. It also ensured that knowledge from agricultural research reached farmers, helping them improve their farming practices and harvests. But over the past several decades, these government services have disappeared. That’s where our Canadian field program, The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, comes in to help fill this gap.

Hugo Martorell, Quebec Regional Coordinator for our Canadian field program, discusses with farmers Paterne Mirindi and Hamidou Maïga at the Senneville Seed Hub, in Quebec, where multiple training events take place. Both growers had been working to adapt the seeds of African varieties of eggplant, amaranth and other vegetables for the Quebec climate, to meet the needs of the African diaspora. In 2021, they worked with SeedChange to create trials so other growers could access their seeds and help adapt them. Photo credit: Sharif Mirshak (Parafilms).

Thanks to your support, we’ve created one of the most innovative and comprehensive farmer education programs on seed in the country. By giving farmers access to a variety of field days, workshops, webinars, mentorship programs, and even a podcast, you’ve helped them learn how to foster more diversity on their farm. You also helped them gain the skills they need to contribute to the essential work of saving Canada’s remaining seed diversity and building on it. 

In 2021, our training opportunities have expanded, giving 2,400 Canadian farmers new tools to save better quality seed and a greater diversity of seed on their farms. Best of all, your support for our Canadian field work means farmers can learn these skills from the best teachers: other farmers. 

In 2021, your support for our Canadian field program allowed it to run:

  • 116 research trials to expand farmers’ access to ecological seed varieties for African eggplant, rutabaga, radicchio, carrots, wheat, oat, and potato. 
  • 58 training events attended by 2646 participants

75.3% of past participants are now saving a greater diversity of vegetable or field crop seed.

Erika Clarke, from Nova Scotia, participated in the 2021 edition of our Seed Mentorship program, delivered in Atlantic Canada by our partner ACORN. “This was a life changing program. It has given me the confidence to grow and to save seeds on a larger scale. I have forged what I foresee to be lifelong relationships that will benefit both of us. I look forward to participating in the new year to expand my seed saving knowledge and to create new relationships.” Thank you for your support for farmers like Erika!