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.
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