Local farmers’ heritage seeds please gardeners

After learning that four corporations have patented control over 80 percent of the world’s vegetable seeds, local farmers Dawn and Wayne Osborne felt compelled to do something. They decided to create a local, sustainable and healthy supply of seeds in their backyard — for planting in ours.

Wayne says, “We started with five locally selected plant varieties in 2010 and expanded the list to 30 plant varieties in 2013.” Wayne and Dawn plowed the revenue from those initial seed sales back into their plant breeding efforts, “bringing true local food security to our community.” Today, the “seedline” at Omega Blue Farms is thriving.

Omega Blue Farms online seed catalogue.

A fixture at Qualicum Beach’s Seedy Saturday, normally an elbow-to-elbow event held the first week of February, cancelled this year due to the coronavirus restrictions, Omega Blue Farms shifted their retail focus from farmers markets to their online store. Seed sales have been strong, and some items have already sold out, says Dawn.

Omega Blue Farms is a heritage animal and heirloom plant conservation farm.

“The animal and plant varieties we utilize are maintained, restored, and improved using traditional breeding and organic practices,” says Wayne. “Unlike many foods found in the grocery store, the heritage foods we offer are grown from publicly (Canadian) owned genetic stock… and GMOs are strictly prohibited.” No chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used either. One of Omega Blue’s objectives is to enable consumers to buy direct from the farm or from retailers within a short distance of the farm — and now, thanks in part to the pandemic, by online shipments.

Their 10-acre farm near Qualicum Beach was raw land when the couple bought it in 2004, a daunting prospect to some, but not for the Osbornes. “The property was previously mined for gravel, sand and peat but came with a southern exposure, sandy soil, and an abundance of spring fed water,” says Wayne. “To protect our long term farming aspirations, we had our rural residential property added to the Agricultural Land Reserve and quickly obtained Farm Status.”

Omega Blue Farms began as a poultry breeding operation, raising Araucanas, Ameraucanas, Muscovy ducks, and Bronze turkeys. Wayne is an American Poultry Association Grand Master Breeder in Turkeys and Muscovy Ducks. The sandy soil started out lacking any organic substance, says Wayne, but was slowly improved by naturally pasturing the poultry.

Then Wayne learned how most of the world’s seed supply was controlled by four companies. It was time to focus their genetics expertise on heirloom vegetable conservation. In 2008, they terraced the enriched soil on the slope between the homesite and the poultry runs. By 2010, they began their first seedline, and started a market garden. It was a success from the beginning. Customer Alina Abbott says, “…the seeds I got from Omega Blue Farms this spring are growing better than any vegetable seeds I’ve ever used. I think I got over 90% germination, I’m so happy.”

Wayne and Dawn are currently focusing their seed production and breeding efforts on Open Pollinated plants that are hardest to find as organic seeds, says Wayne. Ambitious in the best possible way, they envision a future where Omega Blue Farms matures into “a good old fashioned mixed farm, supporting the sustainable conservation of our heritage food supply.”

Omega Blue Farms can be reached at 250-757-2006 or by email at OmegaBlueFarms@gmail.com

Or place an order through the Omega Blue Farms Seed Store