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Kurt and Sharon bulked up the wheats and gave seed to anyone who asked. The varieties were unregistered or deregistered, therefore illegal to sell by Canadian law, so they gave seed away for the cost of postage. In the mid 1990s Sharon imported (very legally) a collection of USDA wheats. A young Alberta farmer, Kerry Smith from Onoway, got interested in the collection and grew them out on his farm.
The Heritage Wheat Project had few friends and very little interest until Red Fife wheat, the champion of heritage wheat revival in Canada, became of interest to two chefs, Mara Jernigan and Sinclair Phillip. Over dinner in Mara's home on Vancouver Island, Sharon told them the story of keeping the old varieties alive. She mentioned giving Red Fife wheat seed to Marc Loiselle and Walter Walchuk, both of whom bulked up the seed. There were bins of Red Fife needing to be sold.
Eventually media became interested and Red Fife, a variety that never was registered in Canada, was (and still is) being sold coast to coast and around the world. Other heritage and landrace varieties deserve to be grown out and evaluated but people want the easy route.
It takes six years to bulk up a packet of seed to having enough seed to resow and then start selling. Farmers cannot afford to do this work, and most don't have the small scale equipment to handle the growing quantity of grain. Society hasn't yet embraced the need to pay for conservation of agricultural biodiversity and keeping quantities of grains in community seed banks.
Sharon gave her wheat collection to Holly Peterson in SK (306-622-4903) and to Chris Wooding in Ontario (613-382-8709) and to Jim Ternier (Prairie Garden Seeds, SK) and to the Canadian gene bank.
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