Monday, July 22, 2024

Local seed swap kicks off gardening season

by Guillaume Laflamme
Apr. 6, 2024
Green-thumbed Pontiacers flocked to the Thorne Community Recreation Association in Ladysmith on Saturday to pick up tips and tricks of the gardening trade and swap home-grown plant seeds with their neighbours.
The day’s event, organized with the help of Seeds of Diversity and officially named Seedy Saturday, was modeled after a similar event that has been happening across the country for decades and was a first for the Pontiac region, according to organizer Carrie Ann Watson.
Watson has been attending Seedy Saturday events elsewhere for 20 years, but figured it was due time the Pontiac hosted its own.
“I thought it’s a good combination to try composting talks, and seed saving and getting more people into gardening and knowing about gardening. And it’s really important that we preserve the heirloom seeds,” Watson said.
Valerie Bridgeman, another of the event’s five organizers, believes Seedy Saturdays are an important opportunity for people to not only get together, but also serve as a conservation effort for different plant species.
“If we lose the very last beefsteak tomato seed, what are we going to do?” Bridgeman said. “So it’s important that we all learn how to grow and to save heritage seeds.”
Attendees wandered between the 22 booths that were set up in the TCRA, some hosting vendors selling local agriculture products, some offering themselves as seed swap tables, and others acting as informational kiosks where one could learn about seed saving and environmentally responsible gardening practices.
Speakers invited to the event gave talks on regenerative gardening, most effective composting practices, wild foraging, and of course, how to save your own seeds.
Seed-saving expert Greta Kryger was in attendance and available for consultation throughout the day. She ran her own organic seed company for over 30 years, and believes heirloom seeds are an important part of sustainable gardening, as well as a part of history.
“We have a lot of varieties that can be proven back to grandparents and great-grandparents and kept in the family over the years.”
Kryger explained that heirloom seeds are different from their genetically modified counterparts because they are able to produce more sustainable plants, specifically adapted to the regional climate, year after year, while the modern modified seeds produce weaker plants.
“If you don’t have seeds, we do not have food,” she said.
The Seedy Saturday event also featured a not-for-profit canteen run by Pure Conscience Farm and a team of volunteers which served a variety of teas, coffees and food, donated by local producers, including Herboristerie La Feé des Bois Apothecary, Leystone Farms, as well as freshly cooked yak burgers from Pure Conscience Farm. 
Gema Villavicencio, who owns the farm with her husband Marc Hudon, saw the event as a chance to meet like-minded people passionate about gardening.
“I think it’s a super nice community event where we can also get together to exchange cheap seeds from each other.”
Watson said the inaugural Seedy Saturday event was a success and hopes to bring it back annually.


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