An online seed database created by a local organization has become a growing success with gardeners and farmers across Canada.
Seed Finder is a website residents can use to find and purchase seeds of locally adapted vegetables within their area.
Created by Seeds of Diversity Canada in Waterloo, it features the names and locations of more than 200 seed companies and farmers across the country, organized by region. The website also offers an online catalogue for planters and home delivery.
Jane Rabinowicz is the executive director of SeedChange, one of the partners who helped create the website.
She says with a rising demand for sustainable food, Seed Finder aims to help Canada build its own supply of local vegetable seeds.
"What many people don't know is that the vast majority of vegetable seeds that are planted on farms across the country are imported, " She said, "So even if you're buying a carrot from your local farmers market, there's a high likelihood that that carrot came from somewhere else."
Besides encouraging the use of "Canadian made" seeds, Rabinowicz says the diversity of seeds available on Seed Finder provide a lot of nutritional and sustainable benefits for planters.
"The diversity of the genes within the crops help to withstand environmental changes, which is going to be more and more important as our climate continues to change." said Rabinowicz. "Anything from tomatoes to peppers to broccoli to chard and kale seeds are available for purchase."
According to Rabinowicz, gardening has historically seen a rise in participation after human disasters like the Great Depression and World War ll.
"There has been such an enormous expansion in interest in food security.... seed stores have seen a six to ten times in the volume of demand." said Rabinowicz.
With a rise in gardeners during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rabinowicz says she hopes to see those same numbers after the crisis winds down.
"It's a healthy act, it's a useful act, it's also the awareness of the importance of local food has become during this pandemic." said Rabinowicz.
"With border closures, with more people becoming food insecure due to losing their jobs," said Rabinowicz, "With all the ripple effects that we have seen of the pandemic across the food system, people are so aware of the food supply, where our food comes from, and supporting our local farmers... and supporting their local seed companies."
For more information about SeedChange, go to weseedchange.org.