Seed Library Grow-Outs

Every year we choose a vegetable crop or family to focus on for Seed Library grow-outs, and we are always looking for experienced seed savers who can help multiply the rare seeds in our Canadian Seed Library collection.

Seeds of Diversity's Canadian Seed Library is a collection of seeds that backs up the work of our member seed savers and Canadian heritage seed companies. As a not-for-profit project, we store back-up samples of Canadian seed, prioritizing rare and locally adapted varieties to be available for future gardeners and farmers.  


Why Tomatoes?

Often we’ve focused on particularly hard-to-save seeds for our Seed Library Grow-Outs, such as biennials or crops requiring especially large isolation distances or minimum populations to protect against cross-pollination and inbreeding depression.  However, we recently received a very generous donation from the Dan McMurray collection of the Creston Seed Bank in British Columbia: 839 different varieties of tomato seeds! Their collection was larger than they could manage well, so they downsized their inventory and sent the balance to us for safe-keeping. This means that – in addition to our already large tomato inventory – we now have over 800 new varieties to maintain.


What’s Involved?

We will send you seed. You start and transplant the seedlings – ideally at least 20 to maintain good genetic diversity. Keep all other tomato varieties at least 20ft away to protect against cross-pollination. Take notes and submit observations (we’ll send you a form to use) so we can learn more about the seeds we’re protecting. Eat lots of tomatoes, but save the best for seed.

We typically invite volunteers to keep up to half of their seed harvest, and send the rest for freezer storage in our collection. Quality matters – the seeds we keep in our collection must be grown with proper isolation, and they have to germinate well – but large quantities don't matter as much.

You can learn the basics of tomato seed saving by downloading our free handout, and graduate from there to our popular handbook How to Save Your Own Seeds.


Want to Participate in a future Seed Library grow-out?

Contact us at