By Cheryl Harrison, Master Gardener
The excitement is building! We have been dreaming while looking at seed catalogues. Some have placed their orders and may have even received some product. But, did you know that there are local events where you can purchase seeds from local growers and/or swap seeds with people who have their own seeds saved from plants that they grew? These events are often called “Seedy Saturday” or “Seedy Sunday”.
The first Seedy Saturday event was held at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1990. Sharon Rempel had been trying to track down flower and vegetable seeds for a heritage garden that she was trying to create at a museum in Keremeos, British Columbia. She could only find what she needed at a Seed Foundation in Washington State. Sharon wanted to bring together people who were interested in collecting and sharing seeds in British Columbia. Sharon’s idea, of collecting and sharing seeds, has since become very popular across Canada.
Why are local seeds something to care about? Seeds produced by locally grown crops/vegetables, flowers and trees, have been produced by plants that successfully grew under local growing conditions. When we limit the variation in the plants we grow, we lose biodiversity. Biodiversity is so important because it ensures that there is genetic diversity which means that the plants have the traits necessary for local growing conditions. Local seed production can result in new varieties of plants that are more resistant to disease and local pests and better able to adapt to local soils and environmental conditions. With enough variation in a group, there will always be individuals that can survive changing conditions…..so necessary in today’s world.
Local seeds are often heirloom, or heritage and openly pollinated which means that if you save seeds from these plants, they will grow true to the parent plant. The other big bonus is that vegetables, grown from these seeds, are often tastier and more nutritious. For more information, see this Mother Earth News article HERE.
So, back to your local Seedy Saturday or Seedy Sunday….these events are fun! There is great excitement and bustle as attendees talk about what seeds they have to swap and as they look at the seeds offered by various local vendors. Workshops and “Ask the Expert – Q & A” are often offered. Sometimes there is even something to get your really young gardeners off to a good start eg. growing sunflowers. This year I hope to track down musk melon seeds that will be sweet and ripen quickly in my area. My grandmother used to grow the best musk melons ever!
This year, Covid 19 remains something that we have to contend with….many Seedy Saturdays and Seedy Sundays have gone virtual! Check out Seeds of Diversity HERE for an event near you. The Peterborough Seedy Sunday is on March 14. Check out their Facebook page HERE for more details.
If you have not checked out a Seedy Saturday or Seedy Sunday before, have a look virtually this year. You might discover a delicious new-to-you variety of your favourite vegetable or learn something amazing at a workshop!
Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy, 10th printing 2016, ISBN 13-978-0-88192-992-8 – information on biodiversity
Seeds of Diversity, https://seeds.ca/sw8/web/home – seed saving resources, pollinators, biodiversity and more