McMurray Memorial Seed Bank

In the Fall 2014 issue of the Seeds of Diversity member magazine I wrote an article about my friends Dan & Val McMurray, who from their home in Wynndel, BC were the stewards of thousands of varieties of vegetable seeds. Not only did their love of open pollinated varieties probably manage to save and revive dozens of seeds that would have surely gone extinct, but their dedication to spreading them to other growers around the world far and wide became well known in the seed saving world.

Val McMurray passed away in 2010, and Dan passed away in 2012. Their amazing seed collection was then passed on to The College of the Rockies in Creston, BC where it is now being cared for, catalogued, and grown out (you may have noticed a few mentions around the site of myself helping with the grow outs). I wanted to share the article here now with readers of this site, as I and many others found the McMurray’s a true inspiration, and the legacy of their seeds living on is a testament to what one or two seed savers can do.

A Legacy Of Seeds

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If you like those kind of articles, please consider joining Seeds of Diversity – members get access to the member seed catalogue once a year, and four magazines to their mailbox a year. Plus the warm fuzzies knowing that you’re helping a whole bunch of ecological research, projects, and preservation.

Thanks to Tatiana as well for supplying photographs.

New Additions To The Bank

One of the big reasons why I run the annual seed sale every year is to help procure funds for further acquisitions for the bank. Thanks to everybody who’s purchased seed so far this year, procurement has already begun!

Here’s a few of the varieties I’ve been able to obtain in the past few weeks:

Tomatoes

    Bunte Pflaume
    Dwarf Wild Fred
    Eva Purple Ball
    Gold Ball
    Golden Egg
    Hana
    Italian Noire
    Lime Green Salad
    Mountain Princess
    Paragon
    Perth Pride
    Radinilee
    Reisetomate
    Rozovye Gryozy
    Schappis Küsnachter Alpenglühn
    Sherkhan
    Sputnik
    Summer Cider
    Tartar from Mongolstan
    Uluru Ochre
    Val’s Black Striped
    Valencia
    Waltingers Fleisch aus Indien

Beans

    Broad Windsor (Fava)
    Canadian Wonder
    Nowegian Brown
    Speckled Cranberry
    Thibodeau du Comté Beauce

Would you like to see a complete list of what holdings the bank currently has? You can view that by clicking right here (list is in PDF form).

2015 Kicks Off

This is when most of the seed bank is done. Or at least, that’s what it feels like. Once the plants go in the ground (or pots) they mostly seem to take care of themselves, except for watering and bagging blossoms. I’m outside amongst the plants, picking and preening and generally fussing, but it hardly feels like work.

When I say work, I mean the planning, and I guess what makes it more work-like is that I spend hours sitting in front of the computer, reconciling what’s in the bank with what my database says, updating the database so I can track where everything is, and then of course the pouring over what’s in the bank (via the database) deciding what needs to get grown, and figuring out which seeds are going to which growers. When I say work, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it, because I thoroughly do. Every gardener knows that planning your garden is a great way to get over the doldrums of winter.

And this winter has been a tricky one. We’ve, overall, had a warmer than normal winter, which is great because it’s not -20C constantly, but also awful because it makes it feel like spring is that much closer when you know it actually isn’t.

But, it has made me be really early this year with getting the 2015 growing season in order, and that is a feat unto itself, because before February I have the list of what’s getting grown this year, which growers are getting what seeds, and I’ve even planned out the seed starting schedule to the day of when everything needs to get sown.

The past couple of years have really been about getting all that super old seed grown out and in good quantity, and I can now say, at the end of 2015 everything will be 100% caught up if all goes according to plan, which of course means lots more room and time for acquiring new varieties. That is exciting.

Without further ado, here’s the list of what’s getting grown out for 2015 and here’s the growers participating this year.

I’ve already been busy acquiring seeds for the bank as well, and that will be posted in a future update.

I’ve also been fiddling with the wiki quite a bit, and now you can view which varieties have been grown in which year.

Helping the bank

The seed bank is still running it’s annual seed sale to help fund the endeavours of this year, which includes (but isn’t limited to!), postal costs, website costs, and most importantly, acquiring new varieties. Please consider purchasing some seed from the etsy shop, it goes a lot way to helping keeping the bank going for another year.

I do accept donations as well. You can read about donating here.

And, of course, I am always accepting donations of varieties into the bank that we do not currently have. You can read about donating your seeds here.

Stay tuned for the list of new acquisitions coming up in a future post!

Annual Seed Bank Fundraiser

As promised, the seeds for sale are currently up, and available through the etsy shop! I’m excited this year to be selling some really awesome varieties.

But I thought your seeds were free??

They are, and they will be. But every year I run a little drive in order to help fund the coming year. The Populuxe Seed Bank is run entirely out of pocket, and in order to help mitigate some costs, each year I sell seeds first. Some quantities I have are quite limited, and if they sell out through the Etsy shop first, they will be gone until they’re grown out again (which is a 7-10 year cycle). So if you see something you really need, I do suggest you snap it up first on Etsy! Plus you’ll get that warm fuzzy feeling from helping a good project (and my gratitude!).

Thanks for your ongoing support, as always!

New Seeds Coming Soon

I’ve had a few inquiring emails asking if seeds are available yet. Firstly, thanks to everybody who’s showed interest, and secondly, the answer is imminently. I’m just finishing up the last of the germination tests, and then seeds will be available.

If you’re a member of the newsletter, you will get first notification that seeds are ready to go (to join, enter your email in the box on the upper left hand corner).

I will be doing a seed-drive this year before offering the seeds for shipping only, and that is simply to help out with on-going expenses (website, shipping, packing supplies, etc.) that the bank incurs that is paid out of pocket.

Thanks again for all your interest – stay tuned!