The Local Community Food Centre and Stratford and District Horticultural Society hosted their annual Seedy Sunday seed swap Feb. 16.
There may still be snow on the ground but, for a few hours at The Local Community Food Centre Sunday, the only thing on people’s minds was getting back into the garden.
In partnership with the Stratford and District Horticultural Society, The Local Community Food Centre hosted its annual Seedy Sunday event to celebrate the fact that spring is just around the corner.
“It’s an international event run by Seeds of Diversity, so we take some donations for Seeds of Diversity Canada at the front door, and the idea is to help distribute and swap seeds that will be planted in the area, and save seeds,” said Derek Barnes, manager of community outreach at The Local.
Along with presentations on the community food centre’s new edible forest at Dufferin Park and the importance of composting with worms, those who took part in Seedy Sunday had the opportunity to peruse and take home as many packets of different varieties of seeds as they liked – some of which, like those offered by the members of the horticultural society, were free, while others required a small donation or could be purchased from one of the participating vendors.
According to Barnes, the practise of saving and swapping seeds is not only a cost-effective way to grow a garden, but it also helps the plants that are being grown in area gardens adapt to the local climate and environment.
“Planting vegetables or trees in your neighbourhood, collecting those seeds and then replanting them in your area, you actually create a strain of vegetables and fruit trees that are hardy for the region,” he said. “There’s a sort of resiliency that’s built from maintaining a local supply of seeds and saving seeds from plants that have survived the season.”
And while picking up their seeds for the year, amateur gardeners had the opportunity to learn from experts such as Alice Mainland about what they should be thinking about now to make the most of the upcoming growing season.
“Right now, you should be looking at all the seed catalogues and exploring ideas for what you’re going to plant,” said Mainland, who sits on the horticultural society’s board of directors. “So having that opportunity to see, ‘What type of seeds am I going to try this year? What worked well last year? What didn’t work well? What can I replace?’ And if we’re talking vegetables, ‘What works for the family? What did everyone enjoy?’”
Mainland also suggested now is a good time to sit down with neighbours to plan a neighbourhood approach to their front gardens, an approach that could enhance the aesthetics of the entire neighbourhood while helping those who may be new to gardening or are no longer able to weed or complete some of the other more physically demanding tasks.
“If you do it as a group, maybe somebody has a bad back, so they can’t get down and pull weeds, but someone else finds joy in getting their hands in the dirt. … And there’s others where their joy is in collecting seeds … and maybe they want to share that with their neighbours. Maybe someone likes pruning. Pruning, sometimes, is a little scary for new gardeners, so neighbours with experience could help out with that,” Mainland said.
Though Seedy Sunday is only a once-a-year event, The Local Community Food Centre and the Stratford Library offer a catalogue of seeds available to anyone with a library card throughout the year. Both The Local and horticultural society also have plenty of volunteer opportunities for those who want to learn more about gardening.
And, in addition to Seedy Sunday, the community food centre and horticultural society host an annual plant sale. This year, the sale will be held on May 23 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Local.