You’d think a business owner wouldn’t want her customers to copy her product, but that’s exactly what Lorelie Shoesmith, owner of Sugar Shack Seeds, encourages.
The Parksville seed producer and seller said she hopes fellow gardeners also save the seeds they collect from the vegetables grown from her products.
“You’re going to get from that one seed, a hoard of seeds,” she said, calling the process “fun” and “empowering.” “It’s a more affordable way to go.”
However, Shoesmith also knows that not everyone wants to put in the work of preserving their garden. This is why, and how, she said Sugar Shack Seeds stays in business.
Each year, Sugar Shack Seeds produces a large selection of veggie, fruit, herb and flower seeds for customers to choose from. Shoesmith said she has even worked to incorporate not-so-common heirloom varieties, as well as plants that like our climate (making them less fussy and easier to grow) to her catalogue over the past five years.
Most of Sugar Shack Seeds products are cultivated from open-pollinated, non-GMO and non-hybrid plants that Shoesmith grows in green houses and gardens behind her home.
As a certified organic master gardener, Shoesmith uses effective micro-organisms, lasagna beds and compost to organically grow her seed plants; however, she hasn’t bothered to get official certification for her operation. “I am a small grower with a deep avoidance of anything that is not natural for my gardens and formal training on how to grow organically … I take great pride in growing this way, and have not been interested in getting the paperwork to become certified,” she explained. “There is a lot of documentation, record keeping, yearly inspections, additional costs … and takes up to 36 months to become certified.”
That being said, the Nanoose Edibles seeds that Shoesmith sells through her company are certified organic as that farm has official accreditation. Sugar Shack Seeds also sells products from Crazy Dog Farm (now Boots ’n’ Roots Permaculture Farm), which isn’t certified but helps Shoesmith to offer a larger variety of seeds to her customers.
While the gardening side of things happens during certain seasons, Shoesmith said the rest of the year is far from quiet. Running Sugar Shack Seeds is a year-round job filled with planning gardens, picking and cleaning seeds, cataloguing, packaging and labelling products, going to seed events, maintaining a website and blog, taking photos and selling seeds. She even does her own germination testing to ensure the success of her seeds and will be starting an informative newsletter in the near future.
“I love it,” she said of her work. “I’m feeling pretty good about this year.”
As Sugar Shack Seeds is a home-based business, Shoesmith mainly sells seeds on her website (sugarshackseeds.com). However, she also said that her seed room — a cool room in her basement filled with products preserved in sealed envelopes and airtight mason jars — is open for customers to browse by appointment. Anyone interested in picking out their seeds in person can simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-951-0601 to book a time.
Shoesmith also has a seed rack at Ken-Dor and will be at the upcoming Seedy Saturday on Feb. 7 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. The event is from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and admission is by donation.