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Seedy Saturdays...

Posted by Stacey Hubbs on

Seedy Saturday season is among us! Seedy Saturdays changed my life. For those of you who don't know what Seedy Saturdays are all about…I'll explain!

Okay, so the very first Seedy Saturday happened in 1990 in British Columbia. It was organized by Sharon Rempel (agronomist and heirloom seed enthusiast) and held at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Sharon wanted to create an awesome environment for seed savers and gardeners to unite, grow and share. There were seeds available for swap/tradesies and for sale. USC Canada and Seeds of Diversity were on hand to provide resources for the community and to promote and guide the events.  

And 25 years later…things are still relatively the same! All of us seed geeks get together with our garden seeds to buy and trade and to get excited for the upcoming garden season! The Swap Table is generally the center of every Seedy Saturday. The Swap Table is where you throw down some of your own seeds from previous seasons and trade for some different types to grow out in the future. This community seed trading is an obvious form of small scale seed preservation, and is super important! Many of Canada's greatest open pollinated varieties are grown by people living in small towns and villages who exchange amongst themselves. 

Seedy Saturdays are also a great way to maintain a connection to your gardening community, fellow seed geeks, and your local seed sources. I remember the first time I packed up seeds for swapping…it was such a memorable experience…I got out all of the seeds that I had saved from heirloom tomatoes that I picked at Vicki's Veggies (where I worked/interned at the time) and from the ones that I grew myself at home. I carefully packaged them all in colorful bits of newspaper advertisements and wrote detailed labels for each one. The pride I felt at that moment when all my little packs were done and ready to go to The Swap Table was insurmountable. My first seed swap was epic…and every seed swap after followed suit.

The collection of seed vendors is always so much fun too! Perusing everybody's collections makes you feel so special…like somebody is really letting you into their life….like snooping around their house but WITH permission! Everybody has different stuff and a different way of doing it! My first seed vendor purchase ever was at the Guelph Organic conference from Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds (a big certified organic seed company from Vermont). Before that, I had always got them through other people, not from a seed company…so this opened up a huge new world of geekery for me…on the other hand...my first Seedy Saturday seed vendor purchase was from Karen Wright at Terra Edibles. She's a lovely lady with a soft voice and spirit who has been growing on a small scale in Ontario for decades. Two vastly different seed companies…two vastly different products. One hugely inspired Stacey! Man it just kept getting better…and SEEDIER! 

Here in Picton, our event grows every year into something more exciting and inspiring than the previous year. More and more people attend, More community members get involved…but most importantly..more and more people are growing seeds!

Workshops are becoming a large part of Seedy Saturdays across Canada…with specialists and enthusiasts taking the floor to speak about whatever their garden specialties might be. (from sprouting, to composting, to seed saving!) If you are lucky, you might have somebody as magical as "The Mouck's" speak at your seedy saturday. For me, The Mouck's (Robert and Carol, seed growers of decades in Ontario) are it. They are an adorable (and hilarious) older couple with so much seed wisdom it makes you want to both cry and toss seeds around uncontrollably!!! If you have to chance to experience such a seedspasm, then consider yourself lucky and don't forget the information that your inspirators gave you.     

A super important aspect of Seedy Saturdays that often gets overlooked is the availability of Locally Adapted Seeds. These are seeds that are grown and saved from your region. Obviously, they are going to grow better in that region because they've already done it before. The experience of growing in that region is now in their DNA and memory. They'll be adapted to your regions soil conditions, climates and micro-climates, pests and diseases. This is of great importance to a seed saver, as it gives you a huge advantage in the garden…your plants won't have to learn as much or work as hard…they'll remember how to thrive in your unique area! So if you want the best seeds for you…then ask where your seeds are coming from! Talk to people at the swap table, talk to your local seed vendors, and talk to your seeds before you plant them!

If you want to be involved in seed preservation, there are many ways to go about it. Obviously not everybody is going to turn their life into a small seed circus like me...so here's some seedspiration on some ways that you could be involved if you are into it...

Save your own garden seeds and share them with your family and friends.

Save your own garden seeds and bring them to your local seedy saturday to share.

Join a non-profit, preservation focused organization like Seeds of Diversity! (or donate to these kinds of organizations if you have some spare cash so that they can keep preserving seeds!)

Support your local seed library! (and if you don't already have one, maybe think about starting one up!)

Support local seed companies, charging a few bucks for a full seasons worth of hard work doesn't mean they are money grubbing...they are often doing more preservation work than you know about and most times their pack costs doesn't cover their time investment. You might see a seed vendor and think "why would i buy seeds when i can trade them for free?" (which is a totally valid thought) The answer is, by buying local seeds from these people, it allows them to keep  going…to keep preserving these varieties...to keep buying new varieties to grow, to be able to buy packaging supplies, to be able to buy some wood for tomato stakes, to buy plastic for their makeshift greenhouses, to just keep going!!! Seed saving is fun, but when its your job…its a year-round affair preserving not only a variety, but a full cycle. Support your seed people! I have too many seeds to even begin to count...and I still support other seed growers (locally and internationally-small and large) because i know they are just doing the same thing as me, Saving Seeds.

Seedy Saturdays are a place for where i feel safe and not judged by being such a huge seed geek. If only it were everyday…then i'd fit in life! Stop in to a Seedy Saturday nearest to you and show your support to your local seedfolk! (or at the very least, go see whats its about, eat some lunch and think about gardening next year!)

Edible Antiques will be at Picton, Kingston and Quinte West Seedy Saturdays this season. For details, follow me on Facebook! (link at bottom) See you there and Keep it Seedy!!!   


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