Jim Ternier of Prairie Garden Seeds has been growing vegetable seeds in Saskatchewan for over 30 years and sells online and at Seedy Saturday events across the Prairies, including Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina and Yorkton. Jim is a long time member and past president of Seeds of Diversity Canada. He is a wealth of information about vegetable and heritage grain varieties. He shares this knowledge generously through his writing to the SODC magazine, and thorough seed saving talks and workshops. He is also inundated by calls and letters from gardeners all over the world looking for seed and asking about varieties.
Together with his daughter Rachelle, Jim farms on land owned by the St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, just East of Humboldt. The abbey is still very active, with over 30 monks of all ages, who participate in daily activities which includes growing a large part of the food consumed at the abbey and adjacent St. Peter’s College. The site has guest rooms and a cafeteria, and hosts many events throughout the year. With all the farmland and equipment around the site that was not being used to full capacity, I couldn’t help but think what a great location for an organic farm college this would be, especially with the seed-saving wisdom of Jim around.
Jim grows an interesting collection of heritage grains, some of which he gets from the PGRC gene bank in Saskatoon. He takes detailed notes about the plants as they grow and their yields. Given the scale that he farms at, he can only produce a very small amount of seed. Farmers that call looking for seed only receive small packages (100g) of seed. If they want more to grow on a field scale, they have to bulk the seed up to larger quantities themselves. This is a project where the Bauta Seed Initiative can help. I’m looking for growers to bulk up seed, and possibly purchasing some equipment that can be used for small-scale grain production. Growing seed on this small-scale is very labour intensive without the proper equipment, and most of the equipment for growing grain is designed for much larger scale farming. More on this to come!