In 2010, a group of 14 progressive, southern Alberta seed growers got together, looking for ways to promote seed production. Today, those original seed growers (well, 13 of them) are shareholders in SeedNet, a company that licenses new varieties for sale to commercial farmers.
“Now,” says Elizabeth Tokariuk, SeedNet’s general manager, “we have a network of dealers and retailers outside of southern Alberta. This way we can expand our market further afield.”
You may have noticed SeedNet doesn’t do quite as much mass advertising as other seed companies. “It’s a factor of being small, but growing,” Tokariuk says. “We’re growing faster than expected.” SeedNet currently has only one person on staff, Tokariuk, in an office in Coaldale, Alberta.
Tokariuk sees SeedNet’s farmer-focused structure as a benefit. “We are different.” When farmers buy SeedNet varieties, she says, “they get first-hand knowledge from growers, not information from someone in an office. You’re buying the seed from someone who’s actually grown it.” This means sellers have hands-on information to answer buyers’ agronomic questions.
Seednet has gone beyond southern Alberta, with growers and retailers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Manitoba, Tokariuk says, “there’s a lot of interest in hybrid fall ryes.”
How will the snowy, harvest weather impact SeedNet’s seed supply for 2019? “Time will tell,” Tokariuk says. “Southern Alberta seems to have been given the lion’s share of the snow, but because we have dealers outside of southern Alberta, I think it will be all right.”