One seed supplier in Fergus is hoping the importance of locally-grown seeds will take root in residents, especially as the interest in local food grows.
Located on 495 Anderson St. S., Seeds of IMBOLC & Flower Farm offers heirloom varieties of beans, peas, tomatoes and pepper seeds, along with seeds for local flowers. Focusing on naturally grown seeds, the business offers only non-GMO and non-hybrid varieties of food and plant seeds.
“These are local seeds that grow well in your garden,” said owner Kat Hargreaves-Granger. “They are open pollinated, which means you can save the seeds from that, and plant that, and it will come true to that.
“Let’s say you planted prudence purple, you plant those seeds, you are going to get prudence purple the next year.”
Formally known as Full Circle Garden, Hargreaves-Granger changed the name of her business in 2016 after learning about the lore of Imbolc, which is the celebration of the seed.
“When I heard that name I thought, 'That's it! I've got to be Seeds of IMBOLC,'” said Hargreaves-Granger. “New beginnings, reconnecting back with the land and the celebration of the seed."
When it comes to the seeds you buy at the hardware store versus from a local supplier, Hargreaves-Granger explains they’re not the same, as the seeds can come from outside the province, or even outside the country, and packaged in Canada. If the seeds were grown in Florida and planted here in Ontario, Hargreaves-Granger said those seeds may not produce anything due to the differences in soil, temperature and other factors.
“Seeds adapt, their technology is something we don’t understand yet, but they know enough that they are able to adapt to their growing conditions, so the seeds that I’m growing here do well in our climate, our temperatures and so on.”
As a local seed supplier, Hargreaves-Granger grows the seeds in her garden to acclimate them to Wellington County. She then harvests the seeds and washes them, putting them into air-tight packets.
“If I’m offering seeds to the public, I have to guarantee that these are the healthiest seeds that I can grow,” said Hargreaves-Granger.
“Most seed companies will not grow their own seed because the way to make money in the business is to buy bulk seed from somewhere else, and it’s quite cheap to buy in bulk, usually, and then they just repackage it.”
She adds heirloom seeds offered by a local supplier also produce a tastier product than bigger seed companies.
“What I’m hoping for is that people will try them and realize, ‘Oh, those are good!’” said Hargreaves-Granger.
While admitting it’s hard work, Hargreaves-Granger adds the most satisfying part of her job is creating a seed which will go on to produce a plant, and all the life that comes with healthy gardens.
“All this life is here because of what I do, and it’s like magic, it makes it all worthwhile,” she said.
With supply chain disruptions leading to concerns around food security, Hargreaves-Granger hopes residents who are supporting local food will also support local seed suppliers.
“Bringing things back to local people, people who really care, people that are doing things that benefit everyone else,” said Hargreaves-Granger about local businesses. “For instance, doing this sort of regenerative gardening, I’m rebuilding this soil and I'm producing this excellent seed, and everyone gets the benefit of it, it’s a win-win.”
“The more of these businesses that are heart-based, that’s the future, that’s the only sustainable way we are going to stay on the planet.”
Besides selling seeds that grow food, Seeds of IMBOLC has seeds for local flower species and hosts an annual plant sale in May. Currently, dahlia tubers are available for purchase with nationwide shipping.
“Local flowers are becoming a real big thing, florists are trying to find a local flower farmer, “ said Hargreaves-Granger, “so I’m branching a lot more into flowers to benefit the local flower farmer boom that’s taking place right now.”
To see all the products offered at Seeds of IMBOLC & Flower Farm, go to seedsofimbolc.ca.