This fantastic opportunity to network with local gardeners and to risk getting infected with gardeners’ spring fever happens this Saturday February 20 when Seedy Saturday comes to Almonte. It will take place at the Almonte Civitan Club from 9am to 3pm. It will be a jam-packed auditorium full of vendors of heritage seeds, a seed exchange table, and presentations on gardening and booths by organizations such as the Neighbourhood Tomato and the Canadian Organic Growers.
I have written about Seedy Saturday and Sunday events in past years in Ottawa and in Perth. These events have been overwhelmingly successful gardening events so much so that it was too crowded for me! Before the doors opened there was a line-up of people at the doors and by afternoon it was so crowded that it was almost impossible to move! So I was extremely delighted when a couple of local entrepreneurs decided to bring Seedy Saturday to Almonte.
I have agreed to lead a workshop on extending the gardening season and I know that there will be lots of excellent presenters. This event is being supported by our area Horticultural Societies, the Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardening Association, the Lanark Master Gardeners, the Canadian Organic Growers and the Seed Library at the Almonte Library. It promises to be another amazingly successful Almonte event and a terrific opportunity for gardeners from the area to network, for local producers to showcase their wares and for learning.
Seedy Saturdays are a remarkable phenomenon. The Canadian charitable organization Seeds of Diversity has taken on a loose organizational role, providing some guidance and some publicity for these events. They are not one event, but a series of separate events, which have sprung up across the country, each individually and uniquely organized under the same general themes of encouraging the use of open-pollinated and heritage seeds, enabling a local seed exchange, and educating the public about seed saving and environmentally responsible gardening practices.
Some Seedy Saturdays are hosted by established public sites; others by the voluntary effort of a few individuals in community centres or church basements. The events all maintain an informality, low cost of entry for visitors and vendors, and a general theme that is attractive to growers of heritage seeds, organic practitioners, native plant growers, and environmental groups. Since these characteristics are well aligned with Seeds of Diversity’s interests, that organization has come to be viewed as a natural participant and promoter of these events. Seedy Saturdays’ grassroots nature — low overhead, low admission, local talent, and volunteer energy — distinguishes them from expensive, commercially driven garden shows. Attendees are able to contribute, not just consume.
The number of events increases every year, with over 110 held in 2013 across Canada. At the core of each one is a dedicated organizer, often a member of Seeds of Diversity, who provides vision, time, and talent for their day. Many individuals help organizers with their Seedy Saturdays. The energy, enthusiasm, and efforts of dedicated volunteers make these events a success. Event attendance ranges from around 50 people to over 1,000. However, the success of a day is not judged by its attendance, but rather by the eager participation of the attendees.
They usually occur on a Saturday, hence the name, but also occur on Sundays and other days. Whether you are a first-time or master gardener, seed enthusiast or expert seed saver, there really is something for everyone. For more details on the great network of Seedy Saturday events taking place across the country, check out the Seeds of Diversity website. This year Seedy Saturday in Ottawa takes place March 5 at Britannia Park (Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre) and on a smaller scale there is a Seedy Sunday in Perth on March 6 at the Royal Canadian Legion.
Gardening for Guys
In my experience there is a serious gender imbalance when it comes to interest in gardening at least in gardening organizations like horticultural societies and Master Gardener groups. So the question is how to get more guys interested in gardening and nurturing small growing things. One answer that I have discovered so far is the introduction of power tools and the more powerful the better! Examples that I have uncovered, besides the obvious lawn tractors, rototillers and leaf blowers include:
• The use of a ice-fishing auger to aerate the compost pile
• The use of a dust-buster to dispatch cucumber beetles
While I am certainly not advocating the addition of more horsepower and internal combustion engines to gardening I believe that it is critical that more males discover their nurturing side however we get there.