Tell us about Sweet Rock Farm:
Sweet Rock Farm is a family-run, diversified farm that grows seeds, provides vegetables and fruits for the local markets, and keeps a small herd of sheep. There are five acres in total area, with about 3/4 acre in mixed vegetable and seed production, and another 1/2 acre leased elsewhere for more seed production. We have 15 sheep at present, plus a gentle, loving horse called Archie and we board a buddy of his. Scattered around the property are 40+ fruit and nut trees, a couple of greenhouses, a creek, a pond - and house, of course, and various outbuildings. It seems like a lot but somehow it all fits. Most of the time...
How did you get into farming?
I got into farming gradually, starting with a home garden in my mid-twenties and growing yearly, until I was definitely farming.
What is the first seed you remember saving?
The first seed I remember saving was about 18 years ago: Black Coco beans. I grew them out originally to save as dried beans, and when I went to buy more - from the seed company that sold me them - they weren’t offering them anymore. So I planted the leftover stock I had to eat and kept on saving them. I still grow them, and I still love to eat them.
What inspired you to start saving seeds?
I believe that how we grow/source food is central to solving a lot of challenges we face socially and ecologically, and it all starts with a seed! As an organic farmer, buying organic, local seeds is important and necessary so that we aren’t supporting environmentally damaging agriculture elsewhere. Seed from plants that are grown under organic conditions are also likely to perform better on organic farms and small gardens!
What seed saving projects are you inspired by right now?
I have two favourite seed projects going on. First, eight years ago I planted several Hubbard squashes together (Blue Max, Potimarron, Large Green Hubbard, Baby Blue, and Red Kuri). I let them cross every year and pick the best to save seed from. Second is a bush bean mix that I plant with my son - greens, yellows, striped, purples, there are over a dozen varieties and we plant them all together mashed up, hoping for as many crosses as possible. It’s fun to see new crosses popping up every year!
Why did you decide to join the BC Eco Seed Coop?
The co-op seemed like a natural progression for me. As I grew as a seed farmer, it seemed like an easy fit. I like things that come easy and joining the co-op was a no brainer for me.
What is your favourite seed saving or starting resource/book/mentor?
Any tips or lessons you could share with a new or home gardener seed saver to help them succeed?
Start small, and start with your favourite crop to grow and eat!