Introduction to the Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement (CANOVI) Project

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time




Event description


Join us for an introduction to the Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement Project (CANOVI) with Dr. Alex Lyon from University of British Columbia and Dr. Helen Jensen from USC Canada. Alex and Helen will talk about the project, its goals, and how you can get involved!

Building on the BC Seed Trials, the University of Manitoba's participatory plant breeding program and other participatory research happening across Canada, CANOVI will work with farmers to trial vegetable varieties to determine the best parent lines for breeding and then, through participatory breeding, start to develop vegetable varieties optimized for organic systems. The program will be starting with carrots and sweet peppers.

Emma Windfeld from the Isaac Lab at the Univeristy of Toronto will also talk about leaf and soil collection as part of the carrot trials to help map the “functional traits” of carrots to detect the trade-offs and synergies among your crops and above- and below-ground agroecosystem processes (e.g. nutrient cycling and soil processes).

Login details for the webinar will follow.


As part of our goal to work towards seed security and sustainable food systems, we want to partner with farmers to test varieties that are adapted to ecological and organic agriculture, have good nutrition and flavour, and for which seed could be produced by Canadian ecological seed growers. We wish to generate and share data for these varieties that is relevant to farmers across a range of growing conditions. We want to build farmer capacity for exploring new varieties and build a network for sharing this knowledge. While variety trials are a commonly used tool in the industry, very few of them target the needs of the main constituency we work with: canadian ecological and organic farmers who grow seed and/or vegetables. These farmers farm on a range of scales, and embrace a number of philosophies towards farming and seeds. Variety Trials are the starting point for breeding projects. You can read more about both below...

Variety Trials

The purpose of variety trials is to evaluate seed varieties or advanced breeding lines, under growing conditions of interest to the farmers in the network. Different farmers may have different types of interest in variety trials. For example, a market gardener may want to trial currently available organic varieties that can be readily bulked up. A seed grower might want to trial rare varieties that could be added to their catalogue or used in an on-farm selection project. To generate data that is broadly useful, we will have a list of official trial varieties, but farmers can always chose to add-in some varieties for their own interest. In 2019 we’ll facilitate trials on red peppers (bell and corno type), and carrots. If you have an interest in other crops, please let us know.

Participatory Plant Breeding

PPB can be seen as a natural complement to variety trials. Variety trials explore existing materials and help identify gaps for a breeding program. They can also be used to test new varieties emerging from a PPB program. It is not necessary, however, for the two to be tightly linked. Some farmers may want to only do variety trials and some may only want to do PPB. Sometimes a farmer may be very knowledgeable about what is on the market and what needs they have without doing variety trials.

PPB is more work and a longer time commitment than variety trials. The best results will come to those who come to the work with a good idea of what they’d like to achieve, and those who have energy and enthusiasm for the multi-season project. This might be the right fit for you, if you’ve done some trialing on your farm (informally or formally) and have found your dissatisfied with the germplasm/varieties currently available, or if you have an idea for something new you’d like to create. For example, have you ever wished for something that does not exist (e.g. shape, colour, size, other trait) in your current crops? If so, what is it?

Questions? Contact

Share with friends

Date and Time



Save This Event

Event Saved