Grow with us
As we wake up to the reality of a changing global economy, many of us are turning "back to basics" and revitalizing the skills and trades that our ancestors used every day to support themselves. Working in the garden, harvesting the fruits of our labour, preserving the harvest for the cold months to come, and sharing the bounty with those around us.
Hope Seeds is a business that has firm roots in the values of honesty, community, quality, and fair play. Buying your garden seed from us helps us to spread these values to our customers, our growers, our volunteers, and beyond. But there are MANY other ways that you can take part in building this business, spreading these values, and fostering within yourself the change we all want to see.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) volunteers
DIG IN with HOPE SEEDS! Farm Apprenticeships
Growing Seed for Hope Seeds
Retailing Hope Seeds in your store or farm market stall
There's no better way to learn about what growing food and farming is all about than getting your hands in the dirt! WWOOF Canada is an organization that helps match willing volunteers with farms that are keen to share their experience with them. Essentially, WWOOFers offer 4-5 hours of their labour a day in exchange for room and board. There's no "typical" WWOOFer: Many come from around the world, and use the WWOOF connection to help make their travel experience more "real" and less touristy; others are seeking a taste of a different experience from their city-bound lifestyle, schooling or work.
At Hope Seeds, we have countless opportunities for WWOOFers to get involved! Tasks range from typical garden chores (planting, weeding, composting) to special seedy jobs (seed harvest, threshing - like what Guillaume is doing in the picture above!, seed cleaning), assisting with our farm market stall during the summer, and getting involved with our sustainable hardwood lot management (i.e. bringing in the firewood!).
We offer WWOOFers a very comfortable private room in our old farmhouse, 3 nourishing and homegrown meals each day, lots of opportunity to work both right along with us and on your own, and great company (if I do say so myself!). Hope Seeds also has an extensive resource library on organic farming and seed production. We want to share what we know (and what we want to learn) about growing seeds, growing organically, and running a sustainable farm business. So - ask lots of questions, and we'll find the answers together.
If you are interested in the short-term volunteering opportunity that WWOOF offers, visit the WWOOF website and become a member today! Feel free to contact us to discuss the possibilities.
Yup...that's how it all began for me! Once I had the idea that farming was something I wanted to REALLY learn about, and learn-by-DOING, I sought out the opportunity to work for a season on an organic farm, from planting to harvest. Everdale Environmental Learning Centre in Hillsborough, ON was my apprentice farm and where I got my first exposure to seed saving. I honestly think that 6 months of back-bending, muscle-building, character-strengthening, and food-appreciating education was every bit as valuable as the 4 years I spent in university.
If you are considering organic farming as a career, or starting a homestead or small farm to support your family, then I strongly recommend going beyond the WWOOF experience of a few days on the farm, to apprenticing for a season or two. Get the picture from "start to finish": take part in the crop planning process, get the seeds in the ground, care for seedlings and deal with the pests, bring in the harvests and sell the fruits of your labour.
In 2009 Hope Seeds hosted two phenomenal women as apprentices for a 6-month hands-on learning experience. Colleen Prentice of Three-Fathom Harbour, NS and Carolyn Cismoski of Davis, CA planned, planted, dug, picked, scratched, saved, sold and studied way beyond our highest expectations. In 2010, WWOOFers were the mainstay of our additional farm labour during this year of transition to the new farm in Belleisle, NS. Kate O'Brien of Mount Shasta, CA started her apprenticeship in April 2011, jumping in to seed potato shipping, seedling starts and crop planning. Kate brought a year of market farming experience with her, and added organic seed production to her skills as a result of her apprenticeship here. What made these three gals successful apprentices? Their self-directed learning, patience, tenacity and passion for living an agricultural life.
We're looking forward to working with people who are genuinely interested and curious, hard working and ready to learn. Organic seed production is the foundation of what we do at Hope Seeds, and apprentices will be integrated into our seasonal tasks. We continue to settle in to new ground in Belleisle, and projects to revive this old farmstead are plentiful. Apprentices may have the opportunity to help with: fencing, clearing paddocks, lean-to construction, breaking ground and soil building, workdays on friend's farms, food preservation and more.
There's always something happening here on the farm!
Hope Seeds is a unique seed company just by the fact that we produce and sell our own seed from our own farm. But seed production is a finickity thing, and with isolation distances, crop production sizes and seasonal limitations, we look to include seed from other organic and sustainable farms. Currently we partner with a few other farms in Eastern Canada (some as local as only about 20 km away!) to diversify our offering of locally-grown and acclimatized seed. Learn more about growing high-quality organic seeds in Eastern Canada through the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network.
We are always ready to talk to other experienced farmers or growers that would consider putting part of their farm or gardens into seed production. Having a foundation of experience in fresh produce production, homesteading, or backyard seed saving is essential. Growing seed, like any farming venture, is a process through which you constantly learn. Hope Seeds is willing to walk with the most dedicated growers through this process, as we hope to build lasting relationships with them.
Our priority is sustainable, local agriculture. We include farmers in that priority, and offer all of our growers a fair price for high quality crops. Hope Seeds believes in the relationships between growers, and works to ensure that communication is very clear from the start through the development of grower contracts. We know from our own experience the disappointment of a failed crop due to weather, pests, disease or other uncontrollable events, and take all of these things into consideration.
See the Hope Seeds Grower Network for a list of our current growers.