Two bins on the edge of a field

Grain on the Brain Podcasts

Season 2, Episode 4 – All About Seeds


We’re talking to Iris Vaisman and Ryan Pengelly today about seed breeding, seed security and seed saving. So just like the title suggests, it’s all about seeds!

Have you ever wanted to be a farmer breeder? Or wondered what a farmer breeder is (and then wondered if someone could please change that name)? Iris tells us about how you can get involved – either join a formal plant breeding program, or if you want to go rogue, pick up a manual and do it on your own. We also chatted with Ryan Pengelly who cleans some of his own seed both to sell as food and to develop his own varieties that grow well on his land.

(57:06) September 16, 2020



Interested in breeding your own seed or getting involved in the Participatory Plant Breeding Program? You can download some helpful tips and seed selection manuals here:

Find out more about the Participatory Plant Breeding program at the University of Manitoba here:

The National Farmers Union has a campaign to support farmers’ right to seeds.

Developed in 2015 in partnership with COG, USC Canada, and The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security, you can learn more about seed saving by taking a vegetable seed saving course for commercial production:

  • Learn about producing organic seeds
  • Learn about commercial seed production including harvesting, quality, marketing, and breeding seeds
  • Build your own business following your own unique seed-farm business plan

If you want to get in touch with Ryan Pengelly at


Funding is provided in part by the Canada and Manitoba governments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Additional sponsorship has been provided by the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. 

Guest Bio


Iris Vaisman is the Prairie Regional Coordinator for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and the Grains Program Manager at Organic Alberta. In these roles, she has the joy and privilege of partnering with farmers, researchers, industry, government and various stakeholders to work on diverse projects. The projects aim to contribute to the resilience of seed systems and organic grain production systems. Before taking on these roles, Iris worked at the University of Manitoba as a research technician, working on research that included participatory plant breeding, cover crops, organic no-till, and soil fertility. Iris has an M.Sc. from the University of Manitoba in organic agronomy and an Hon. B.Sc. from the University of Toronto in Ecology.


Ryan Pengelly farms and seed cleans organic grains and native grasses near Erickson, Manitoba. Ryan is a second generation farmer having returned to the family farm in 2014.

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Manitoba Organic Alliance.


Scott Beaton

Karen Klassen

Iris Vaisman

Ryan Pengelly

Host: Scott Beaton

Producer: Karen Klassen