Getting the Growing Season Started by Planting Seeds:

Seed selection, planting, sprouting, and saving

Friday, March 25th, 2005 1p.m. – 5 p.m. (Holiday: Good Friday)
Sustainable Living Network Headquarters, Toronto

With the support of Jane Hayes from Food Not Lawns and seeds donated by Urban Harvest

At the afternoon workshop you will:

  • Overview of heritage seeds, seed saving, and seed banks
  • Discuss seed selection: plant types, cold and shade tolerances
  • Experience preparing soil for seed starting, and talk about soil conditioning in your home space
  • Select and plant seeds
  • Receive direction on how to best tend your seeds and obtain high sprouting rates
  • Discuss transplanting, hardening off, and cold frames
  • Get a brief introduction to permaculture, with a focus on how to bring it to life in your yard
  • Practice reading a landscape, including a zone & sector analysis, to give you a sense of how to “read” your home space and map the area
  • Explore container gardening, vertical growing, with an introduction to the concept of multi-story “forest gardening”
  • Receive support for your home projects
  • Meet other interesting people!



  • 12:30 -1:00 p.m. Arrive & settle in: Registration,
    informal meeting, browse books for reference and purchase provided by the volunteers of the Sustainable Living Books community service bookstore
  • 1:00 – 1:20 (Please note that we will begin promptly at 1 pm) Opening Circle: Introduction of course facilitators, self-introduction of course participants, including what you would like to learn this afternoon
  • 1:20 – 1:30 Overview of the afternoon
  • 1:30 – 1:45 Why do we plant seeds?
  • 1:45 – 2:00 Drawbacks of conventional seed production; benefits of organic, open-pollinated, non-hybrid, and heritage seeds
  • 2:00 – 2:15 Seed selection: plant types, cold
    and shade tolerances
  • 2:15 – 2:30 Break and browsing of seeds and books
  • 2:30 – 2:45 Choosing seeds to plant
  • 2:45 – 3:00 Preparing the soil
  • 3:00 – 3:15 Fundamentals of seed planting & germination
  • 3:15 – 4:00 Seed Planting
  • 4:00 – 4:45 Outdoor observation: Practice reading a landscape, including a zone & sector analysis, brief overview of mapping. Explore container gardening, vertical growing, with an introduction to the concept of multi-story “forest gardening”
  • 4:45 - 5:00 Closing circle


The course will be offered in English.


Permaculture offers useful knowledge and creative applications for almost everyone: Environmentalists, Agriculturists, Farmers, Landscapers, Land Owners, Interested citizens, Educators, Gardeners and Youth. This course is suitable to both home owners, and those who rent. The material will focus on urban and suburban contexts, but this does not preclude implementation of the ideas covered in rural areas.


Instructor Jillian Hovey is a seasoned international permaculture teacher who is dedicated to inspiration and education about healthy and sustainable living. Jillian holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, and is waiting to sit her final exam for a Masters in Environmental Studies in Sustainable Community Planning and Design from York University in Toronto.

Jillian sustains herself financially through her teaching, design, and facilitation work, which is focused on eco development projects. She has worked across North America and down into Central America, and has wonderful slide shows of the eco projects and ecovillages that she has visited and worked with. Jillian recently supported a forming ecovillage projects in Quebec and Costa Rica, and is presently helping to create a sustainable, off-gird community with a Mohawk tribe in Ontario.

Born and raised in Quebec, Jillian is based in Toronto, where she founded and runs the Sustainable Living Network ( ). She also focalizes the volunteer-run Sustainable Living Books project which makes over 2,500 titles on sustainable and healthy living available at special events and shows (the draft site will be fully operational in the fall of 2004). Her organization offers courses and workshops on a wide range of aspects of permaculture, and is extensively networked with other people and organizations in Ontario, and around the world. There are opportunities for apprentices and volunteers, as well as summer student positions.

Jillian has a warm, present, and inclusive facilitation style, which, coupled with the wealth of her experience, and her passion and commitment to sustainable living, helps to create a rich and supportive learning environment. Feel free to approach her with your project ideas: if she can't help you herself, she always knows someone who can!


Jane Hayes of Food Not Lawns
Jane Hayes is a Toronto-based permaculture gardener, popular educator, community organizer and food activist. She pioneered the City of Toronto's Children's Gardening Program with the help of many volunteers and a few visionary leaders. Her work with the City was nationally recognized twice -- for embodying an “innovative approach to gardening for the future” and an innovative approach to management. Jane has been teaching permaculture in the Toronto area since summer 2002, following two years of intensive community gardening in Oregon. Jane currently works at Evergreen supporting school-based greening projects and volunteers with Food Not Lawns, permaculture-north, Counter Culture café and in community and children’s gardens all over. Jane has a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York and a BA in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from U of T. She loves to clown and play with puppets, but finds it hard to keep the puppets clean in gardens…


There will be a variety of seeds available at the workshop each participant will receive some seeds to plant, and have the opportunity to purchase others. We are very fortunate to have Urban Harvest as the source of the seeds. Urban Harvest is a Toronto-based seed company, which is an excellent source of mostly locally produced certified organic seeds and plants. Urban Harvest strives to provide heritage varieties and seeds for native plants.
Contact info:, email, or phone 416-504-1653.
Seeds are available at the Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market every Thursday
from 3-7 p.m. (For more Dufferin Grove Farmer's Market see


As this is an afternoon workshop, no meals will be provided. There is reverse osmosis filtered water available; please bring your own snacks.

No accommodations are included. If you are from out of town and need a place to stay, your options are as follows: we can recommend a hotel or B&B in the area; we may be able to arrange housing with another workshop participant.


$15-55 sliding scale according to ability to pay

* We endeavor to make our workshops be accessible to all those interested. There are a few partial and full works trade options for people in need. The sliding scale is intended to acknowledge people’s differing abilities to pay, with the upper end being the normal charge for the workshop, and the lower number representing a price that the most financially challenged people can pay. Before you approach us for a reduced rate and/or a work trade, we ask that you reflect upon a balance between your ability to pay, and honoring those who make it their life’s work to offer these experiences. Let us work together to have these workshops be accessible and sustainable!


The workshop will take place in downtown Toronto, at the Sustainable Living Network office, which is in a private home in a residential neighbourhood, located at 78 Alberta Avenue (between Oakwood & St. Clair, and Davenport & Ossington).
By transit:
From the Ossington station (on the Bloor subway line)
Take #63 Ossington bus NORTH-BOUND (the stop is on the north side of the bus "island".
[The same number also leaves from a different stop on the south side of the platform and goes south-bound].
Get off the bus to the third traffic light, which is Davenport. Cross Davenport to the north side.
Head west-ward 20m. Turn right (north) up Alberta Avenue.
Go to #78, a house on the west side.

Alternatively, on the Yonge or University/Spadina lines, get off at St.Clair West subway station and take the St. Clair streetcar westbound (there is an eastbound streetcar as well).
Get off at Winona Drive or Oakwood and walk south down Alberta Avenue to #78, a house on the west side.
Alberta Avenue runs parallel to, and 1 block east of Oakwood. See printable map:


Limit of 12 participants – please register asap to secure your spot!
Contact: Jillian Hovey at 416-410-7581, or email:

Understanding how to engage with the magical productive abundance of seeds
is a delightful way to help create a more sustainable life for yourself and others!

Pictures Copyright © 2005 Jillian Hovey.
Copyright © 2005 Sustainable Living Network.