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Creating the Best Tasting Vegetable Varieties

Saturday, January 26, 2019 - 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Variegated peppers laying on grass

Workshop Description

This workshop will provide an overview of farmers and seed growers across the country who have been experimenting with different varieties on their farm and conducting variety trials and plant breeding projects to develop flavourful varieties for their crops, while balancing the agronomic performance of that crop.

Too often heirloom/OP varieties are not used by market gardeners because of their agronomic performance, despite often having very strong flavour profiles.  With good seed selection and production practices, farmers and seed growers can work to create flavourful OPs that perform well agronomically too.

Topics covered will include:

  • Overview of how varieties are bred for flavour
  • Conducting simple variety trials on farms to evaluate different vegetable varieties
  • Simple on-farm selection and plant breeding techniques for flavour
  • Doing flavour evaluations on-farm with CSA customers and the public
  • How farmers can participating in contributing to better tasting varieties without having to grow seed or do on-farm plant breeding
Pepper breeding
Squash cut open and being held

Speaker: Rebecca Ivanoff

Rebecca Ivanoff has been a farmer for five seasons at Whole Circle Farm, a 200 acre mixed operation near Acton, Ontario, where she started as an intern in 2013.

For the past two years she has co-managed the 10-acre market garden, as well as the vegetable seed production.

One of the projects she is particularly excited about continuing in the coming seasons is a participatory pepper breeding project with 3 other southern Ontario farmers – Annie Richard, Greta Kryger, and Kathy Rothermel; and plant breeders, Michael Mazourek and Rachel Hultengren, at Cornell University.

Rebecca has an Undergraduate and Masters degree from the University of Guelph, where she studied botany, anthropology, and international development. Part of this time was spent learning from farmer-researchers in rural Honduras. In farming, plant breeding, and seed saving she has continued to work with plants and culture, and has found a way of honouring the past, present and future.

Aabir Dey of The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security will assist with the presentation.

Rebecca Ivanoff