Heirloom Seed Sanctuary
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. Although the ministry has come to completion you can relive the stories that highlighted the many works of the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary.
Purpose: to preserve open-pollinated seed so that it may be saved; to grow, harvest, sort and store seed as organically as possible at the Providence Motherhouse property in downtown Kingston, Ontario.
Location: part of the Motherhouse property of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul in the centre of Kingston, Ontario.
Activities: The Heirloom Seed Sanctuary maintained a “living” local heirloom seed collection, hosted a webinar series to teach seed saving skills, celebrated seasonal change at Equinoxes and Solstices and sponsored Kingston Seedy Saturday.
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 oversaw the activities, volunteers and interns that helped with continuing the seed saving tradition. Sr. Alda Brady, Sr. Shirley Morris and several other Sisters were often found working in the gardens, greenhouse and barn, and a loyal committee of Sisters met in an advisory capacity each month.
Completion: an heirloom seed rematriation ceremony was held on Earth day, April 22, 2019, to transfer care of the seeds to partner groups Ratinenhayen:thos of the Tyendinaga Mohawk community and the Kingston Area Seed System Initiative (KASSI). The Heirloom Seed Sanctuary ministry has come to completion but the seeds continue their journey in their new homes.