About Hope Seeds
Hope Seeds is a small but committed seed company, with a dedication to local and sustainable agriculture since our beginning in 1993. Andrea Berry (that's me on the left!) runs this little but growing company as the owner and a grower, building on the original vision of founder Kim Edmondson of Keswick Ridge:
Passion for seed saving; commitment to sustainable agriculture; and securing local food systems for future generations.
Hope Seeds offers a wide range of seeds that bigger companies have overlooked, maintaining many rare and heritage selections. The stories are rich, and add so much to the adventure of growing gardens and food. Keeping these seeds and stories alive is a great honour, and we take our stewardship very seriously. Diversity in our seed, our fields and our food is the best way to build a resilient and strong agricultural system.
At the same time, Hope Seeds recognizes that the future of food lies in the growth of organic, local food systems. Imperative to this is the development of high-quality, adapted seed bred for low-input organic farms and gardens enabling successful crops in a wide range of climatic conditions. We just don’t really know where this climate change deal will take us, but growing and breeding plant varieties out of the wide genetic base of heritage varieties to regional variations of soil, weather patterns and cultural methods is an essential tool for food security.
We grow what we sell! This means we prioritize selling seed to those who grow their own food, and food for others in their communities. We depend on our own seed and fields for our food - just like you - and understand the need for top quality seed that performs best in organic fields and gardens. Our season is short, our soil is not the best, and we do the majority of work by hand (including tinkering on the ol' rototiller and half-ton). We have good crops and bad ones, and gripes with pests and unexpected frosts - all impacting the products we can offer, but rest assured we never accept second-best. Growing our own seed is just one of the things that sets Hope Seeds apart from the majority of seed companies out there.
Our seed quality testing goes beyond simple germination tests, to seed-borne disease and purity. Our germination standards not only meet but often exceed requirements put forward by the Federal Department of Agriculture in the Canada Seeds Act. This is all to makes sure you are putting the best seed possible into your fields and gardens.
Over 60% of our seeds come through the Hope Seeds Grower Network. These are other organic and sustainable family farms in Eastern Canada that have been carefully selected to work and grow with Hope Seeds. Many of these farms have been farming organically for decades - pioneers in their field, often hosting interns, apprentices and volunteers with whom to pass on their skills and experiences. Others are budding young organic farmers that have taken the leap into sustainable food production, coming from diverse backgrounds, but ready to work hard and apply their rapidly expanding knowledge. When you plant a little "Hope", you know that you're supporting these farms to continue their stewardship of our future generation's planet.
We are adamantly dedicated to increasing the level of knowledge, skill and practice of organic seed production in Eastern Canada, and encourage those interested to become involved in the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network (ECOSGN). Learn more about ECOSGN workshops and learning resources through their website. Hope Seeds actively supports the development and sharing of organic farming and seed saving information and skill, through our membership and volunteering with organizations such as:
- Seeds of Diversity Canada (SODC) - An excellent source of beginner seed saver info, SoDC loosely coordinates Seedy Saturday seed exchanges across Canada, formalizes the preservation of rare and endangered seeds through their seed library;
- Atlantic Canadian Organic Growers Network (ACORN) - A non-profit organization that serves the organic sector in Atlantic Canada (based in Sackville, NB). They do so much stuff (annual conference, provincial workshops) and have so many different resources for organic folk;
- Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) - What ACORN will be in 20 years! MOFGA is doing and has done some incredible work to support the development of what is now a rich, diverse and abundant organic farming scene in Maine;
- USC Canada - Works to support the revitalization of community seed banks and grassroots seed preservation around the world; big campaign against Monsanto's "terminator technology" (to make seeds breed sterile) and GMOs;
- Seed Savers Exchange - SoDC's sister organization in the US;
- Canadian Organic Growers (COG) - An education and advocacy organization for organic growers across Canada.
So hopefully that gives you a better idea of who we are and why we're doing what we do. We warmly welcome your questions, ideas and suggestions, and love to hear from you. Visit the contact us page for ways to get in touch.
We are grateful for funding in 2014 from the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. The program has been a great boost for quality, ecologically grown seed in Canada. To learn more about the initiative to conserve and advance seed biodiversity, please visit their website.
Special mention goes out to Leland Wong-Daugherty, a good friend and owner of Artful Acre Design whose signature work is seen in this website, logo and all of our packet labels.
Andrea Berry, Owner & Grower