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Seeds selling fast as COVID-19 era gardeners keep up planting trend

Ladner's West Coast Seeds are not reporting seed shortages this year, but demand remains very strong.
Ladner's West Coast Seeds are not reporting seed shortages this year, but demand remains very strong.
Image Credit: Facebook/ West Coast Seeds

The weather is warming up and backyard gardeners are beginning to move outdoors with this year’s fruit and vegetable crops top of mind.

As such, Delta’s West Coast Seeds Aaron president Aaron Saks says the province’s seed industry continues to move along at a brisk pace.

“Wholesale accounts in Kelowna and other interior communities are really ramping up. Even in Vancouver, it’s busy on the wholesale side, and on the web side we’re still very busy as well. It hasn’t slowed down at all,” Saks says.

West Coast Seeds isn’t experiencing any seed shortages, but this year’s challenge will be keeping up with demand.

Saks says there is a lead time from vendors for seed deliveries, and West Coast Seeds is dealing with challenges associated with packing their products fast enough to fill sales.

“We are running 24-hour-a-day shifts, and we’ve invested in new machinery to keep up with demand. I feel we’ve done a heck of job keeping up, but even then, it’s challenging for us,”  Saks says.

Products listed as sold out on the company’s website are in supply, but can’t be packaged quickly enough, even though West Coast Seeds has doubled its production capacity in the past month.

Saks says the seed season is now underway throughout the province.

"Everybody’s really busy. We’ve got a lot of inquiries from other wholesalers wanting to sell our products, but we’ve had to be cautious. We don’t want to wipe out our stock, and we don’t want to be unable to service our customers,” Saks says.

Seed production is being encouraged on a provincewide basis as well.

B.C. announced plans to assist the province’s seed producers in expanding seed production throughout the province.

The ministry of agriculture said earlier this week it would fund a study to determine the potential of adding in-hub infrastructure or mobile cleaning units at food hubs in different regions of the province.

FarmFolkCityFolk’s mission is to connect, empower and inspire people to strengthen B.C.’s sustainable food systems. The organization is expected to lead the B.C, Seed Hub feasibility study through consultation with the province’s food hub operators to determine which facilities could best utilize seed processing equipment.

The study is part of a $5.6 million budget for the expansion of the B.C. Food Hub Network.

“Many seed producers are smaller, family-run farms that cannot afford their own seed cleaning and packaging equipment,” Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Lana Popham says.

The study will look at how the province can increase seed production and expand seed-sector infrastructure, services and training.

There are 12 food hubs currently operating or under development in the province.

Locally there are three under development – in Salmon Arm, Rock Creek and Kamloops.

Three food hubs currently operate in Vancouver, Surrey and Port Alberni.

B.C.’s Food Hub Network helps build a business by connecting B.C. producers and processors to supply chain partners, infrastructure, training and technology.

Food hubs are shared-use food and beverage processing facilities that provide food and agriculture businesses access to commercial processing space and equipment.

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