Rene Michalak

Rene Michalak

Seed bank works to save genetic diversity

Spring is still theoretically around the corner which means soon gardeners will be getting ready to work their land.

Spring is still theoretically around the corner which means soon gardeners will be getting ready to work their land.

But the fledgling Red Deer Seed Bank is encouraging local green thumbers to plant with a conscientous purpose this year.

The seed bank is committed to the mission of biodiversity and the proliferation of uncommon plants.

They are entering their first full growing season and are looking for more people to get involved and join in their fight.

“We’re seeing genetic diversity decline very rapidly in the last number of decades, so it’s very important that we maintain genetic diversity in our seed supplies and not just a few strains that are controlled by large industrial agriculture businesses,” said ReThink Red Deer project leader Rene Michalak.

“The local seed bank initiative is really starting to help communities balance this industrial approach. It’s not to eliminate the industrial approach, it’s to not put all our eggs in one basket.”

The bank was born out of initiative and a $1,000 grant from the Unitarian Services Committee of Canada, Seeds of Diversity and the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.

They now have more than 50 varieties of seeds available to the public ranging from different types of herbs to conventional garden crops like tomatoes, peppers, beets, flowers, squash, lettuces, broccoli and cauliflowers, and more unique plants like ground cherry, golden midget water melons and edible flowers.

This is a mission that goes beyond just humanity for the seed bank.

Michalak says too much of the world’s growing potential is tied up in a small handful of select crops, leading to the eradication of many different species of plants, hindering the planet’s long-term sustainable and biodiversity.

Those who join in the project will be encouraged to not use all of the matured plants for food, but to also harvest them for seeds alone to help grow the bank.

They are now collaborating with the Garden Club to put on a seed saving workshop on April 27 to put on a seed saving workshop.

Time is of the essence for the local group as they hope to build a strong base quickly.

“We need to assemble as soon as possible because we only have those six months basically of time in our climate here, unless we set up greenhouse operations, but the whole point of open pollinated heirloom variety seeds is that they be grown in natural environment,” said Michalak.

“They need to be grown out in the elements, adapting to climate change, not isolated away in a seed bank or indoors where they’re not experiencing the climate.”