2021 Greener Greenspace Profile
Kenhtè:ke Seed Sanctuary and Learning Centre
Located on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Kingston Ontario, the Kenhtè:ke Seed Sanctuary and Learning Centre is operated by a non-profit organization focused on preserving and growing indigenous seeds to support food security and cultural traditions.
Design and Process
The Kenhtè:ke Seed Sanctuary and Learning Centre (KSSLC), located on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Kingston Ontario, is operated by the Mohawk non-profit organization Ratinenhayénthos. The site features a seed sanctuary, seed gardens as well as meadows for hay. The seed sanctuary houses a seed collection that includes rare heirloom and ancient crops. Seeds are harvested in accordance with Rotinonhsyón:ni cosmology and tradition.
The seed gardens provide healthy and resilient seeds for current and future generations. They are also sites to educate youth of Tyendinaga and sister communities on traditional agricultural practices. Through reconnecting to seeds and traditional, sustainable practices for cultivating food crops, language and culture are also being preserved and food sovereignty is strengthened.
The seedkeeping mission necessitates healthy soil for the seeds to thrive. To build healthy soil over the long term and to promote habitat for good bacteria and fungus, a no-till method is used to reduce soil depletion and increase topsoil depth. Re-purposed compostable materials from commercial sources are used for mulching. Future plans for the site include expanding the seed gardens and planting native trees.
The lead gardener and founding board members are all longtime land based practitioners and growers and are well versed in a variety of organic farming techniques. There are two garden staff who are responsible for taking care of the gardens and land. A project coordinator is also employed to ensure longterm viability of the project through administrative support.
One of the primary aims of the seed sanctuary and learning centre is to promote seed saving among the youth of Tyendinaga through hands on educational workshops and teach-ins at community schools. The non-profit hosts public education events on site and welcomes community members to participate. The events are both educational and social; the belief is that you need both to create and build a community. Volunteers play an active role to support the mission of the organization along with the small team of staff and interns.
For more information, visit the KSSLC website.
Photos from top: Logo and mission statement; aerial photo of the site; Cleoma - one of the flowers grown on site
Greener Greenspaces is a recognition program for sites from across Canada that exemplify greener greenspace stewardship. The aim of the program is to showcase examples of ecologically-focused land care as a means to inspire others and to further the movement across Canada.