Road Trip: Seedy Folks in the Annapolis Valley

From River Hebert Em and I drove across Nova Scotia to the Annapolis Valley (by way of Halifax) to visit a couple of seed growers – Owen and Andrea.

(Our road trip started with this blog post.)

Annapolis Seeds

Owen Bridge runs Annapolis Seeds in Middleton Nova Scotia. Owen is 20 years old and he’s been growing and selling seeds for 5 years now. He’s got a bit of a head start on me.

Owen and his helper Tiffany walked us through the gardens. We stopped to look at just about every plant.

Owen has a number of seed gardens isolated one from the other by forest. This let’s him grow a number of varieties of the same species without them crossing.

Owen also grows some crops (such as these carrots) to seed in his greenhouse to provide isolation from similar crops in the field

A portion of his gardens is in mounds devoted to the three sisters (corn, squash, and beans).

The corn has germinated and if you look carefully you can see a couple of squash seedlings around the edge of the mound. At this point Owen had just seeded pole beans. In some mounds the corn was replaced with sunflowers.

When we visited in mid-June, there were quite a few crops in seed such as sorrel, rutabaga, and some overwintered kales …

… and beets, and parsnip. And some leeks about to flower too.

Of course, like most seed growers I know, Owen also grows a few less common crops.

Such as peanuts. He’s still in the process of bulking these guys up so that he can meet the demand this youtube video about Annapolis Seeds peanuts created.

And this year Owen’s growing Japanese indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) – a.k.a Dyer’s Knotweed.

Next up, of course we looked at some seed equipment.

Owen got these racks second-hand and uses them to dry seeds.

Some seed cleaning screens from Lee Valley.

Owen’s seed display case.

Up till now, I’d only spent time with Owen at different conferences and workshops. It was great to hang out in his gardens and see how many different crops he was growing and talk about seeds.

Em and I said goodbye to Owen and Tiffany and headed over to Hope Seeds – only about half an hour or so away (if you follow the right highway signs of course.)


Hope Seeds

And a few turns later, we met up with Andrea Berry at Hope Seeds in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia.  Andrea has only been at this site for a year and a half or so. (You can read about my visit to her previous farmstead.)

I’ve known Andrea for just over ten years since she apprenticed at Everdale and I was at Switch Farm (now called Greenfields). We got back in touch over seeds and have been collaborating on the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network (ECOSGN) since 2008 or so. I always love to see what Andrea is up to.

Andrea and Rick welcomed us in and we talked the night away about seeds, Tai Chi, and draft horses.

In the morning we walked through the fields. Andrea did have a few seed crops but since she’s moved to this new site she’s been focusing on getting the farm in shape before growing.

Andrea has a network of seed growers who produce seed for her (in fact Tourne-Sol grows a number of brassica greens and a few other crops for Hope Seeds), as such Andrea can afford to focus on her farm.

Some of this farm work has involved water management.

Such as building ponds to deviate water and provide irrigation in dry periods.

Building French drains. (Trenches filled with rocks.)

And digging surface drains to control where surface runoff flows.

We hung out in Andrea’s seed room well stocked in shipping supplies with a great packing table. (Do you see the USC seed map on the wall? I hope you have one in your office, farm, home, or … )

And a fine selection of custom made seed scoops.

The seed inventory hangs along the wall.

With a row for each variety.

From here, Em and I headed back up through New Brunswick and into Maine.

One thought on “Road Trip: Seedy Folks in the Annapolis Valley

Leave a Reply