Victoria Seed Share, a small volunteer-run group, has snagged funding for three 12-week employment positions. Work Experience Opportunities Grant, a provincial COVID-19 intuitive aimed at helping vulnerable people get work, awarded $10,800 to the grassroots seed program.
The group got together last year almost by accident, when they came across a quarter-million seeds at risk of being chucked out.
In a flurry of comments in an online food growing group, the idea was hatched to break down the seeds into smaller portions and give them out for free to anyone who wanted them.
Fears about food security were paramount in the online groups, said administrator Dawn Fizzard, when in the early weeks of the pandemic supply chains were strained and scrutinized. Growing food at home became more popular than ever. The free seed packets were so well received — they’ve distributed more than 4,000 packets of seeds — the volunteers decided to reopen for 2021 with Fizzard at the helm as the coordinator.
Even though the original box of seeds is mostly gone, donations keep coming in from individuals, other non-profits and some farms like the Metchosin Farm.
Fizzard asks that donations be well labeled to make sure they know what they’re handing out. Most seeds get picked up with a contact-less box near the sidewalk system, but they also started utilizing the Free Little Libraries in Vic West. That went so well, she’s hoping to expand to neighbourhood libraries across Greater Victoria. Eventually Fizzard imagines people self managing seed sharing in the libraries.
She’s been managing most of the inventory with the help of a few volunteers, but separating carrot seeds into miniature envelopes and labelling them is not a quick or particularly easy task.
Fizzard buddied up with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable (CRFAIR) to get support, and was able to get funding last year to help with operational costs, and this year CRFAIR’s subsidiary Growing Together helped Victoria Seed Share apply for the work experience grants.
Fizzard will get one of the three stipends for her work as the coordinator, and is looking to hire an inventory manager and a Shopify and social media manager.
Visit the Victoria Seed Share Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VictoriaSeedShare, for a link to the job postings. Order your seeds or donate at: victoria-seed-share.myshopify.com.