While temporarily closed to the public, West Coast Seeds is still getting seeds to gardeners via garden centres, grocery stores and the mail. (photo from West Coast Seeds)
The pandemic and its associated social and economic impacts have focused attention on food security, as well as the therapeutic benefits of gardening in times of turmoil.
This is part of the message from a local company specializing in organic seeds. West Coast Seeds, a Delta-based company that was founded in 1983 and bought by Craig Diamond a half-dozen years ago, has a mission to “encourage sustainable, organic growing practices through knowledge and support … eating locally produced food whenever possible, sharing garden wisdom, and teaching people how to grow from seed.”
Aaron Saks, the company’s director of finance and son-in-law of Diamond, said getting back to basics, like growing your own food, seems to be one of the responses to the social isolation associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve seen a big push toward food security,” said Saks. “Both ensuring that you know where your food is coming from and getting healthy produce when it might not be readily available other places.”
While so many things are off limits – public parks, basketball courts, beaches – those with backyards can still get in the soil and be in touch with Mother Nature, said Saks.
West Coast Seeds is a pioneer in organic and non-genetically-modified agriculture. Since the Diamond family took over the company, they have refurbished a heritage barn in a rural part of Ladner to be their headquarters, where they have their warehouse and a retail operation, which is temporarily closed to the public. The products are also distributed wholesale to garden centres and grocery stores and they do a large mail order business, which has been ideally suited to adapting to the new reality of the pandemic.
The Diamonds are a fourth-generation British Columbia-based family, notes the West Coast Seeds website: “Since Craig’s grandfather, Jack Diamond, came to Canada in 1927 as a young man and purchased his first business in 1940, the Diamonds have been engaged as leaders in business. They continue to follow the principles of community and philanthropy set by Jack, and further exemplified by his son, Charles. The values of West Coast Seeds resonate deeply with the Diamond family and they are committed to uphold this tradition.”
The values of repairing the world that underpin the Diamond family ethos and the West Coast Seeds mission, Saks said, are being demonstrated globally right now as individuals step up to help their neighbours in this challenging period.
“I think everybody has seen the propensity of society to want to give back at this time,” he said. “One of the pillars of our company is actually tikkun olam.”
The company donates seeds for class projects, school gardens, community education and nonprofit organizations.
The company is balancing the safety of warehouse employees with the need to get seeds to the public, said Saks, expressing gratitude to the staff team for distancing, while still getting product to customers.
“We’re thrilled that they’re able to get seeds, that they’re able to grow, that they can support their local garden centre, support growing their own food and be able to get healthier foods, live healthier lifestyles, as a result of gardening. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to give back wherever we can and create joyful moments,” he said.
When times are tough, said Saks, something comparatively simple like putting a seed in the ground can help people through.
“That mystical thing about gardening,” he said. “Every time it germinates, it’s just a crazy thing, like magic.”
For more information, visit westcoastseeds.com.