Seed Sanctuary
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An heirloom seed is seed treasured by people who love the names, history, flavour, fragrance and feel of what plants share with them. Saved seeds often become best friends, part of the family.

Purpose: to preserve open-pollinated seed so that it may be saved; to grow, harvest, sort and store seed as organically as possible at Heathfield.

Location: part of the Heathfield property of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in the centre of Kingston, Ontario.

Facilities: a glass greenhouse to propagate seedlings, gardens, and part of a barn beautifully refurbished for seed sorting, storage and activities.

Activities: the Heirloom Seed Savers meet once a month; there are also Weed Walks, celebrations of seasonal change (Equinoxes, Solstices), workshops and networking with various community groups concerned with sustainability.

How We Began Saving Seeds: Carol and Robert Mouck began working to establish the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary with the Sisters in 1999. They worked with about 400 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs they had grown and saved from Foxfire Farm in Napanee, Ontario since 1974.

People Involved: Heirloom Seed Sanctuary gardener and seed saver Cate Henderson was hired in 2008 and now oversees the activities and volunteers that help with continuing the seed saving tradition. Mike Hammond was hired on in 2012 to work mornings in the HSS Office as the Communications Coordinator to handle day to day office needs. Sr. Alda Brady and Sr. Shirley Morris are often to be found working in the gardens, greenhouse and barn, and a loyal committee of Sisters meets in an advisory capacity each month. Recently the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary has joined the CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) Kingston network to offer an internship to a young person interested in learning about seed saving and sustainability.

Enjoy the new Congregational and Ministry videos                   View all 12 videos online!


Latest News

Upcoming Events
The Whig – Heirloom Tomato Celebration
Frontenac News – Swapping seeds at Seedy Saturday (Sharbot Lake)

Video and Galleries

– Heirloom by Dan Williams

– Latest Heirloom Seed Sanctuary video’s on Youtube

Click to view Photo GalleryGallery last updated July 18th, 2014.

All other informaion

Heirloom Seed Sanctuary Brochure

Click to view the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary Journal Observations and comments from gardener and seed saver Cate Henderson

by Cate Henderson

Those of you who were in attendance at the spring equinox celebration may remember our meditation on the seed – that through kindness alone plants grow from one seed to produce many, many seeds. There is no selfish reason for this, and economists and financial planners would be appalled to see so much energy expended on seeds which are then freely given – many are eaten by humans, animals, insects, fungi etc, with no immediate benefit to the individual plant at all. In fact, most of our vegetables are annuals, meaning that the plant that grew from one seed to give many is now likely deceased!
View full article »

Saving Seeds for Sustainability 2015Last Live Series!

Please note: this will be the LAST SEASON for live workshops at the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary. For a number of reasons, we have decided to document the workshops this year and post them as presentations on-line, where they will be freely available for the foreseeable future. We will therefore be needing volunteers handy with a camera to help document each workshop! Please contact us for details of how to be part of this historic season and support our work of saving seeds!

All are welcome to the free workshops, events and seasonal celebrations held at the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary barn behind the Motherhouse at 1200 Princess St. Parking at the barn is limited, so we encourage you to bus or carpool! Events held at other locations may include a cost so please check the links for details.

Live workshops will be held on the first Saturday of every month followed by a webinar on the following Wednesday.

Mar. 7, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 1: Planning and Planting
Mar. 14, 10 am - 3 pm Seedy Saturday (153 Van Order Drive, L.C.V.I. high school)
Mar. 20, 7 pm Spring Equinox celebration
Apr. 4, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 2: Planting Seeds to Save Seeds
May 2, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 3: Gentle Transplanting
June 6, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 4: Flowers and Pollinators for Seed Savers
June 21, 1 pm Summer Solstice celebration
July 4, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 5: Weeds and well-being
Aug. 1, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 6: Harvesting “Wet Seeds”: Tomatoes and friends!
Sept. 5, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 7: Harvesting “Dry Seeds”: Beans and friends!
Sept. 22, 4 pm Autumn Equinox celebration
Oct. 3, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 8: Drying and Handling
Nov. 7, 10 - 11:30 am Saving your own seeds – Part 9: Sorting and storing
Dec. 22, 9:30 am Winter Solstice celebration (weather permitting)

Reasons to engage in saving seeds include: connection with the earth and mystery of creation, historical value, adaptability and diversity, taste and nutrition and more!
Donations are always accepted and support our work.
Contact Cate Henderson or Mike Hammond or on Facebook at HSSKingston for more details!

The business of rest

by Cate Henderson

The idea of rest is somewhat deceiving. We know as human beings that when we sleep we appear to others to be resting, to be immobile and still. But we also know that, in fact, our minds can be quite busy as we sleep – sometimes living a whole other life in a dreaming world of our own imagination and doing much of our best neurological processing of information. View full article »

The perfect garden plan

by Cate Henderson

Cate Henderson works up the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary's annual garden plan

Many gardeners enjoy planning their gardens over the winter time, as it means dreaming of all the beautiful flowers and delicious, perfect veggies they can grow. In the planning stage, no pests come to chew on leaves, no drought makes plants droopy, and no worries of poor pollination need apply. The perfect garden of the imagination is all there is! When a gardener plans on growing some plants all the way to seed however, some restrictions do apply, which only increases the challenge and makes success that much more satisfying!
View full article »

by Cate Henderson

Peas are a lovely cool-weather crop, one of the first seeds to actually be planted in the soil of the gardens, even when it is still too cold for most vegetables. One of the pea varieties is called Champion of England. What a glorious name!

View full article »

You say tomato, I say heirloom

Gardener and seed saver Cate Henderson, who oversees the gardens, offered tours and hosted a seed saving workshop.

By Christine Ross

What’s the difference between heirloom and commercially-produced tomatoes?

Flavour tops the list. Just ask any of the 150 tomato tasters attending this year’s popular Heirloom Tomato Day at Providence Motherhouse in late August.
View full article »

Help support and celebrate this years International Day for Biological Diversity. For idea’s and celebrations in your area please visit HERE.

Learn more at: Convention on Biological Diversity

Spring Equinox

It was unseasonably mild and sunny on March 20, 2012, the first official day of spring.
View full article »

  • Quote

    Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.
                - Henry David Thoreau