Facebook /#canovi_alebio


The Canadian Organic Vegetable Improvement Project (CANOVI) is a 5-year program to build a collaborative network of farmers, researchers, and industry stakeholders to:

  • Test varieties for: (1) adaptation to agro-ecological practices, (2) nutrition and flavour, and (3) domestic seed production potential in Canada.
  • Generate and share varietal data with farmers and seed producers.
  • Collect and analyze data (called “functional traits”) to assess crop performance in organic systems.
  • Implement on-farm Participatory Plant Breeding to create new lines of priority crops, including carrot, bell pepper, and squash.
  • Build farmer capacity for on-farm trialing and breeding.

2018 Trial Results


If you are a farmer on an agro-ecological farm, and you’re interested in learning about variety trialing and plant breeding, CANOVI might be for you. CANOVI farmers grow, select, adapt, and evaluate varieties and breeding lines of carrots, red peppers, tomatoes, and squash. In future years, we will also be considering support for other crops. If you’re interested, please contact your Regional Coordinator today!

CANOVI is led by Dr. Alexandra Lyon, Postdoctoral Fellow, and Dr. Hannah Wittman, Academic Director, at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Sustainable Food Systems (CSFS). CANOVI is managed within SeedChange by Dr. Helen Jensen, Research Manager for The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. Research on crop functional trait analysis is led by Dr. Marney Isaac, Associate Professor in Environmental Science at the University of Toronto.

This research is part of Organic Science Cluster 3, led by the Organic Federation of Canada in collaboration with the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada at Dalhousie University, supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Canadian Agricultural Partnership- AgriScience Program, and by The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security.


Through our variety trial program, farmers evaluate existing commercial varieties, as well as breeding lines of vegetable crops for suitability to Canada’s agro-ecological farming conditions. Though variety trials are commonly used in the seed and plant breeding industry, few programs address the needs of agro-ecological farmers and seed producers, which has led to a scarcity of information about crop performance in those settings. Our variety trialing program currently focuses on carrots, red bell and corno peppers, and tomatoes.

Already trialing with CANOVI? Join the CANOVI Facebook Group to stay in touch with others doing this work across Canada! Find links to the most important resources below. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Please contact your Regional Coordinator. For a full list of resources regarding on-farm research, click here.


Our Participatory Plant Breeding program (PPB) for vegetable crops -- modeled on the field crop program -- is a natural complement to variety trials. Variety trials help identify gaps for new breeding projects, and can also be used to test new varieties emerging from PPB programs. Our CANOVI PPB program will develop improved, open-pollinated varieties for agro-ecological production systems in Canada.

Open pollinated (OP) varieties have been the foundation of farm-based seed saving for many generations. By working to develop organic OP varieties, we are developing seed which can be selected, saved, and shared by farmers, keeping valuable biodiversity in their hands. Through this process, OPs can be continually adapted to the environment, making them an asset for farm resilience in the face of climate change. By using PPB to improve the performance of OP varieties, we hope to contribute to a wider array of seed options for agro-ecological growers.

If you are a farmer interested in participating in this work, please contact the Regional Coordinator for your area to inquire.