Member Profile: Lana Braun of Hummingbird Farm
BCESC Member since: 2020
Tell us about your farm:
We are located in the Slocan Valley about 30 minutes from Nelson BC. We are in zone 5, and our season is relatively long (for the area) because we are right near the river and so we get fall frost often long after others. Our farm is about 10 acres, but we grown in less than 3. This land was cleared at the turn of the century by a Dutch family, and we have many lovely heritage structures on the farm!
We are certified organic and have a deep concern for the ecosystem services our farm does and can provide. Water and soil conservation and care for pollinators are important factors in many farm decisions.
We grow more than 300 varieties of flowers including annuals, perennials, bi-annuals and loads of bulbs, corms and tubers. We have a particular passion for herbs as well like lavender (we have 4 varieties!) sage, and many varieties of scented geranium. We hope to offer many varieties of perennial flower seed in the future! We also grow hundreds of pounds of strawberries and raspberries.
Funny enough as a specialty cut flower and small fruit farm, we grow very few vegetables, as we find we can’t spend the time and focus on this so we buy in our veg from fellow farmers in season.
How did you get into farming?
We are heavily involved in the local certified organic society and enjoy both the knowledge and relationships that this brings. Joining any kind of agricultural society is a great way to learn and connect with farmers!
What inspired you to start saving seeds?
It is all but impossible to buy certified organic cut flower seeds, so seed saving came out of a need for seed, but also just observing and trying what we can save and grow from seed is fun and economically relevant. Although we grow many hybrid varieties, in particular at least 10 kinds of sunflowers, if the variety is open-pollinated you can bet we will have a go at trying to save the seed!
Tell us about your current seed operation:
We currently save seed from more than 20 varieties of flowers, ornamental grains, and herbs. We hope to push this to at least 30 in the future. In particular more perennials!
What is the most unusual/special/unique seed you've saved?
Lavender is one that I am particularly excited about, it can be a bit of a tricky one to grow from seed, but gives you a nice sized plant in just a couple of years! We hope to offer this seed next year after more testing on germination rates.
Favourite seed to save?
Poppy! so easy to grow and save and so beautiful! My favourite one from last year is a shirley poppy called ‘pandora’ so gorgeous and we will have a few of these for offer this year!
Can you tell us about the best part of seed saving? Most challenging?
The best part is when you get a really good germination rate, after all that work it is super satisfying. The most challenging is of course the seed cleaning, especially some seed, fussy work!
What seed saving projects are you inspired by right now?
What is your favourite/most used/well-loved seed saving tool?
I have a set of mesh drying racks, an essential tool for the job.
Why did you decide to join the BC Eco Seed Coop?
As we are certified organic, we really wanted to both offer certified organic seed but also get better at seed saving for our own use. What better way to do that than to join a co-op with a bunch of smart experienced folks! So excited to learn and share!
What is your favourite seed saving or starting resource/book/mentor?
I don’t really have any, just learned by doing and also seeing what ‘weeds’ came up - a sure sign of a great seed to save!
Any tips or lessons you could share with a home gardener or new seed saver to help them succeed?
Get in and try! If it is an open-pollinated plant that produces seed, just jump right in and give it a go! Start with some really easy ones if you are nervous such as poppy, and experiment with others, but make sure you pick the best plants to save from!
How has COVID-19 affected the work you do? Have you had to make any interesting changes to your farm or business as a result? What have you learned from it?
We do a lot of weddings, most cancelled this year...but it has been a super year actually, taking time to work on some projects and plan and do with greater intention. Makes me focused on trying to be less busy in the future and not feel I have to say yes to everything, balance is nice!
Want to learn more about the farmers who grow your seeds? Find more interviews from this series here.
Interested to see how COVID has affected local seed farmers? Read our Farming in the Face of COVID-19 series here.