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Farm Glance: Annapolis Seeds

August 1, 2010

Now, I don’t know about you, but at 18-years old I was definitely not running my own successful seed business. In fact, I don’t want to think about what I was doing at 18-years old. But taking part in the crusade to maintain biodiversity in a world increasingly dominated by large seed companies and hybrid, sterile seeds was not it; which is what makes what Owen Bridge is doing so interesting…

Our man in Middleton, Owen Bridge

Currently in his third season of growing and selling seeds here in the beautiful Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia (yes, my friends, he began all of this at the tender age of 16), you would think he’s been doing this for years. And, in fact, he has. He began saving seeds at 11-yrs old back in Qualicum Beach, BC where he grew up, his interest in plants burgeoning at a young age. Three years ago, his family decided to pull up stakes and move to the opposite side of the country, Middleton, NS to be exact, where the winters are decidedly longer but the growing season is hot and wet (the weekly mid-summer rainstorms mean irrigation is not really an issue).

Growing on approximately one acre, Owen has a special interest in peas and beans, producing around 100 varieties of each. He’s also got a hankering for growing crops that are old, unusual, and not-typically found in our climate. This year, you’ll find him hoeing between rows of a 1000-year old variety of tobacco plants. Or perhaps you’ll find him digging in the soil to monitor the progress of his Valencia peanuts; plants that bore him a surprisingly large yield last year and won him the name “The Peanut Man” from the local media.

Thousand-year-old Tobacco variety, smokeable, I believe.

What’s impressive about  Owen is that he has his paws in several honey pots and is interested in all things farm. He built his own yurt, he and his family raise goats and a dairy cow, he scythes, he builds tools, he teaches workshops, all of this on top of running his seed business.

Owen is a mean scyther and will be participating in the Maritime Hand Mowing Competition.

Owen is currently learning to thatch the hay he scythes for future storage in the barn. His system involves an A-frame type structure used as a base for piling the hay. The outer layers of hay act as a waterproofing layer keeping the rest of the hay dry for later use.

A hay rake that Owen built for himself out of ash, it works really well to rake up hay without getting caught in soil or roots.

Using no nails or screws, Owen just carved wedges to insert on either side of the prongs.

Ultimately though, whether it’s a common old lettuce variety that absorbs his time or Ethiopian lentils, he puts the same amount of passion and wholehearted dedication into his work. And it’s apparent from the first moment you meet him, which is why he’s won an impressive amount of media attention lately and has gone to open his own mailbox to find more frequently that fans of his work have mailed him their own favorite seeds for him to grow and develop. This is all a part of his ultimate goal of trying to preserve biodiversity and he’s doing a remarkable job of it.

Check out the Annapolis Seeds website to view all of Owen’s varieties and the order seeds:

Plus, check out Owen’s blog for some farm updates and fabulous photos:

One Comment leave one →
  1. rob permalink
    August 1, 2010 8:41 pm

    Hi Jordan and Vanessa,

    It’s August first. Farm dinner night. Canapes, wine and beer in the orchard. Pea and potato soup, squash cherry tomatoes and Susan’s feta, halibut with braised fennel and potatoes, greens, cookies, and flan with berries for dinner. Your nettle beer has finally matured and is excellent. I will save you one bottle. Buy that truck! We will see you in Ontario or Quebec.


    Also, hi from Andrea, Rob’s secretary and Ragley farm server.

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