Organic Seed Sources For Organic Gardeners
How can a gardener recognize that he is buying organic seeds and/or that he is buying from organic seed sources?
Once you have decided to grow organic seeds, you must first make sure that your soil is ‘clean”, that the soil to be used as your garden is not contaminated in any way. . . and you do that by getting your soil tested.
Then comes the second step: looking for those vendors who specialize in selling organic seeds to the organic gardeners. At this point you are probably asking yourself “How do I know that the seeds I am buying are organically grown and where is the best place to buy organic seeds?”
Well you can wait till the last minute and chance buying (any type of) seeds at your nursery or such places as Canadian Tire or Home Hardware. However, your best bet is to plan ahead and order via seed catalogs so that you can identify whether the company’s seeds are labeled as organic seeds.
When researching seed sources, you will notice that organic seeds can have different labels
depending on whether the grower simply wants to tell the buyer that the seeds are certified organic seeds or belong to a special group of organic seeds.
Certified Organic seeds is the label which will help separate organically grown, unaltered seeds from others such as genetically modified seeds. This label reassures the gardeners that they are indeed buying good old fashioned seeds which they can trust as being safe.
(For a better view, left click on picture and you will be taken to a new page. On this new page, left click twice on the picture and you will get an enlarged view of the packet.)
However, to further categorize the organic seeds into subdivisions of organic seeds, you may find the following labels:
“U” for untreated,
“O” for organic, “
OP” for open-pollinated,
and/or “H” for heritage
U — which stands for Untreated seeds are organic seeds which have not been coated with chemicals that are harmful to soil life and humans.
However, “Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada” does insist that certain varieties of imported seeds be treated.
These growers shun like the plague any seeds that have been genetically modified, that is, seeds in which the genes of anything from a pesticide-resistant weed to an animal or even a bacteria have been inserted or spliced right into the seed’s DNA.
There are two main reasons for this:
Organic growers have no idea how these injected genes will mutate into something that will endanger a person’s health, such as create different allergens in the food, damage the liver or the kidneys, combine with the good bacteria in the gut to create its own version, etc.
The second concern is the environment. Once introduced into the environment, no one can predict where the wind will carry the seeds, and there could be irreparable damage done if these genetically engineered plants cross breed with wild ones.
O — stands for Organic seeds who come from plants which have been grown via organic methods.
OP — which stands for open-pollinated is the best type of seeds because these organic seeds are capable of reproducing themselves.
You can save the seeds from these plants, let them dry off, store them in plastic bags, and use them the following year.
Hybrid seeds, on the other hand, do not always reproduce true to type. The hybrid seeds will grow, but you might have some variance in your results, so if you want the exact same type of plant, it is usually necessary to buy new seed every year. The company will usually identify those hybrid seeds which do reproduce true to type.
H — which stands for heritage seeds are a little more difficult to find
for they are not necessarily sold in mainstream seed catalogs.
Heritage seeds are organic seeds which have been passed down from generation to generation and are usually a collector’s item. These seeds are generally sold through small seed companies and seed saving organizations who try their best to keep these organic seeds in circulation to preserve a diminishing genetic diversity.
Often people who are interested in heritage seed will find other people who are willing to exchange seeds and thus grow their little collection.
If interested in conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the diversity of open-pollinated plants where members are encouraged to save and exchange these types of organic seeds, please contact one of the following for more information:
Seeds of Diversity Canada, SoDC, Box 36, Stn Q, Toronto ON M4T 2L7; Voice Mail (905) 623-0353.
Seed Savers Exchange, a large US organization that promotes seed saving, at SSE, 3026 North Winn Road, Decorah IA 52101 USA.
Here is a list of growers recognized worldwide as certified organic growers offering organic seeds which are safe for the gardener
even if they have not yet identified this fact on their packages.(as of April, 2010)
McKenzie Seeds, (http://mckenzieseeds.com) 30 – 9th street, Brandon, MB R7A 6E1
Has a plethora of useful information about gardening, seeds, tips and so much more.
(McKenzie Seeds are sold by Home Depot),
BISHOP SEEDS ( http://bishopseeds.ca) Box 338, Belleville ON K8N 5A5.
You can order your organic seeds at their website, or phone the Belleville office, toll-free at 1-800-411-2062 and ask for a free catalogue and where the closest dealer is.
DOMINION SEED HOUSE (http://dominion-seed-house.com/en-CA/) Box 2500, Georgetown ON L7G 5L6
Founded in 1928 by the Harding family in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada, Dominion Seed House is a leader in gardening products (including organic seeds) by mail order: flowers, vegetables and herbs (available as seeds, plants, bulbs or cuttings), as well as accessories.
Dominion Seed House proudly wears the official title of CERTIFIED ORGANIC ENTERPRISE since January, 2006.
McFAYDEN SEED CO. LTD. (http://mcfayden.com) 30-9th St., Suite 200, Brandon MB R7A 6N4 The website is available in both French and English. To learn more about this company, you must click on “About Us” after you have clicked on one of the products. Since McKenzie is the parent company, although it does not say so, I presume like the McKenzie seeds, McFaden also sells organic seeds.
ONTARIO SEED COMPANY (http://www.oscseeds.com/) Box 7, Waterloo, ON N2J 3Z6), Phone: (519) 886-0557 Fax: (519) 886-0605 Email: email@example.com
The Waterloo store is situated at 16 King St. South
The Hamilton store (the old Tregunno Seed Co.) is located at 126 Catharines Street North.
The Ontario Seed Company is Canada’s foremost supplier of Native Seeds for Conservation and Reclamation. Note: OSC is unable to deliver to addresses in the USA.
STOKES SEEDS LTD. (http://stokesseeds.com) Box 10, St. Catherines ON L2R 6R6)
(Accommodates new customers and returning customers)
VESEY=S SEEDS FOR SHORTER SEASONS (http://veseys.com) PO Box 9000, Charlottetown, PE, Canada, C1A 8K6 Phone: 1-902-368-7333 Fax: 1-800-686-0329 (toll-free) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
This website is extremely easy to navigate and has one website for Canadians and another one for US citizens.
Veseys offers a selection of certified organic seeds – seed which has been produced under strict guidelines which govern the production of certified organic products. Veseys is also certified as a shipper/handler of organic seeds and is NOP accredited. For growers who require documentation for their certification reviews, you can see their printable GMO-free document.
(When I was living in New Brunswick, my sister and I would order our seeds religiously every year from Veseys. We have always been totally satisfied with our results.)
Full Circle Seeds (http://fullcircleseeds.com) Box 807, Sooke BC V0S 1N0. T:250-642-3671 F:250-642-3671
Open-pollinated vegetables, flowers, herbs, and more organic seeds
RICHTERS (http://www.richters.com) 357 Highway 47, Goodwood ON L0C 1A0
Herbs: Medicinal, Culinary, Aromatic (U=all, O=many, OP=many, H=some)
Extensive collection of herb seeds plants (over 700 varieties, some biological), a few gourmet vegetables.
Besides herbs, they sell such item as tea blends, spice blends, bath collections, exclusive oils, Home and You, Garden Products, Bodyguard Products under the banner “Herb Wild”. That’s quite an impressive array of products and so close to home, too.
Their products are available online and at the Richters giftshop in Goodwood, Ontario, Canada. They may also be contacted by fax at 1.905.640.6641 or by phone at 1.888.HERB.726
If not interested in any of these Canadian companies, you can always google “organic seeds + your location” to find a place closer to you where you can find companies who sell organic seeds and other organically grown product.