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Back to January 2015 Newsletter

Call for Biennial Growers

Do you have experience saving seed from biennial vegetables? Are you interested in helping Seeds of Diversity renew and expand our Seed Library? We’re looking for reliable growers to grow out biennial vegetable varieties this season and in future years.

Biennial vegetables include carrots, parsnips, celery, onions, beets, and many varieties of the Brassica family such as cabbage, kale and rutabaga. Most commercial biennial seeds are grown further south (mostly overseas) where winters are less harsh. Although some crops such as parsnips and leeks can be overwintered in temperatures as low as -20C, in our northern climate most biennials require special treatment to be carried through the winter so they can flower and set seed in their second season of growth.  

Seeds of Diversity's Canadian Seed Library is a collection of seeds that backs up the work of our member seed savers and Canadian heritage seed companies. As a not-for-profit project, we store back-up samples of Canadian seed, prioritizing rare and locally-adapted varieties to be available for future gardeners and farmers.  

While our Seed Library is packed with all sorts of wonderful annual vegetable varieties, our supply of locally-grown biennial seed is much more limited. We’d like to increase both the number of varieties we protect, as well as the amount of seed we store for each variety. In order to do this, we need volunteers across the country to volunteer to donate and grow out seed.

 Biennial vegetable seed is of particular importance for a number of reasons:

  • there are relatively few saved in Canada
  • many commercial varieties are hybrids and OP varieties are being lost
  • there are fewer growers with the skill to save these seeds

If you have the skill and interest to save good quality biennial seed, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact our Seed Library Outreach Coordinator at


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