Training Seed Trainers

After getting back from the OSA conference I participated in a two-day Train The Seed Trainer session  organized by USC Canada in Guelph, Ontario.

USC Canada works to promote vibrant family farms, strong rural communities, and healthy ecosystems around the world. A large part of this work is around seed security and diversity. Historically USC Canada has worked on these issues internationally but with The Bauta Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, USC Canada (in partnership with Seeds of Diversity Canada) will be focusing on Canadian seeds.

This two-day meeting was the first step in this initiative. The participants gathered to highlight gaps in current Canadian seed training resources, to discuss key seed concerns, and to develop a seed training curriculum that can then be used to train other seed trainers.

The Participants

The main participants were seed growers from across Canada who currently offer seed workshops. They included (from Eastern to Western Canada)

Some folks from USC were present: Suzie Walsh (USC’s Executive Director), Jane Rabinowicz (Bauta Initiative Program Development Manager), Tremayne Stanton-Kennedy, and Kenton Lobe (Director).

And some from Seeds of Diversity Canada: Bob Wildfong (SoDC Executive Director) and Andrew Mason.

Seed Workshop Design

Most of the two days was spent developing the actual curriculum. Participants were divided into three groups to develop the outline for a day long training using post it notes and markers. Afterwards each group placed their work on the wall.

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Then each group presented their workshop.

Patrice presenting the group 3 workshop.

The other participants then asked questions and highlighted similarities and differences between each presentation.

We then moved the post-it notes around and

came up with one super workshop combining the best of all three workshops. Jane is currently trying to make sense of this pile of papers and get it into an organized document.

What’s Next?

Each of the trainers will run train the trainers in their regions. At these session they will meet with other seed trainers to share the developed curriculum and get feedback.

In addition, there will also be a number of seed workshops based on the curriculum over the next year.

By the fall this seed curriculum will have been tested and refined, and should be pretty kick-ass.

Being part of this process really inspired me with what’s going on across Canada and it also gave me a chance to revise my own seed workshops. I’ve already begun to incorporate some of the techniques and topics we discussed.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bauta Initiative or attending one of these regional seed training sessions e-mail Jane (

What exciting seed initiatives are going on where you are?

8 thoughts on “Training Seed Trainers

  1. I’m very excited about the Bauta Initiative myself so I am glad to hear that you had such a great time & that the training the seed trainers workshop elaboration turned out to be so inspiring (I had a feeling it would). I would love to hear more about your experience in Guelph!

  2. hmm, exciting seed initiatives going on here… This week our local gardeners group met and I passed out a list of web sites of groups that have developed a local seed co-op. This is something I would like to see going on here. We are in a short growing season and it would be great to let some varieties develop that are acclimated to the area. We are far away from any seed saving places so hope to learn by books, web, etc. There are 3 of us that have saved seed before. I learn a lot from your posts and articles, so thanks !!!

    1. Hi Jean,

      Could you share your list of local seed co-ops? A lot of seed savers would probably like to read it.

      Good luck on acclimatizing varieties to your short growing season. Sometimes we need to develop the varieties we want. Keep me posted on your effotrs.

      I’m glad to hear you’re learning from my posts. Thanks!

      1. Here is the list I made by searching online a bit, bigger business bigger business
        Is it ok if I copy off your posts on seed saving training ? It will help me find things if I can keep them in one place.
        One question about seed saving.. In our garden it is unusual for lettuce to go to seed, and if it does bolt, for it to have time to produce seed has only happened 3 – 4 times in 20 years. So I find myself looking for varieties that are for Spring and tend to bolt in the summer. Now I wonder if that makes sense for lettuce you want to grow in the summer. We have a hoophouse that I thought of putting the lettuce in to extend the season a bit, but wonder if that is really producing a plant that will work outside. So many things to try I guess. Thanks for any ideas.

      2. Thanks for the list.

        I don’t mind you copying my posts for for you own use. If it’s to share (non-commercially), make sure you credit me.

        Your lettuce question is a good one. One option is to plant your lettuce in an unheated structure in September and let it overwinter. This might give you enough of a head start that you might be able to save seed from more varieties.


      3. Thanks for the idea on lettuce seed saving. There just happens to be a few plants leftover from last fall in the greenhouse so we’ll see if they come back.
        Thanks so much,
        Jean in Mt

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