Seedy Saturday helps put food on the table

Annual food-growing event will answer many questions

With the rising price of food and the world’s climate more on the fritz than ever before, concerns of food security are echoing deeper and louder – notably how sustainable is the food we eat and where does it come from.

Running into its seventh year in Sooke, Seedy Saturday aims to answer questions and provide solutions for those who either started growing their own food or have been doing so for many years.

The event is on Feb. 27 at the Sooke Community Hall, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Food, much of which comes from seeds, and various types thereof, is what puts the seed in the Saturday; it’s a gathering place to swap and sell seeds of all variations.

And it’s not just a marketplace either – it’s where locals and outsiders alike come to learn, to teach and to discuss seeds and the benefits of farming.

“The main goal is to make our community aware of the precariousness of our seed diversity,” said Mary Alice Johnson, owner of ALM Organic Farm in Sooke and a longstanding supporter of Seedy Saturday.

Johnson said much of the benefit from having such an event locally comes in creating a wide range of natural seed variants in the community, something that is rare in an age where mass hybridization and a shrinking gene pool of seed types is the norm.

Dating back to 1990, seed swaps first began at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver due to a lack of “heritage” seeds, or seeds naturally grown.

The event quickly moved into Victoria, and has continued to grow across Canada, even internationally.

While Victoria’s seed-swap is bigger, Johnson believes Sooke has a more welcoming, warmer feel to it.

“A lot of people come out from Victoria and like Sooke better, because they feel Sooke to be more homey.”

One of the participating organizers of the event is Anita Wasiuta, president of the Sooke Food Community Health Initiative, a non-profit society of producers and consumers from the Sooke District, Otter Point, East Sooke and Shirley.

She said part of the reason its popularity has gone up in recent years is because people are noticing the higher-priced food and the health issues surrounding it.

“They’re looking more at what can they do locally, which is why the Sunriver community gardens, all 124 plots, are full,” Wasiuta said, adding that people are also looking more at their local food producers rather than their supermarkets.

Often times it’s the quality of the food that speaks for itself, and if you’re growing it yourself, that’s even better.

“Once they taste that self-grown tomato, it’s hard to go back. It’s the flavor, the care that it takes, and you have this relationship with your food that you don’t necessarily get when you’re buying in large bulk.”

Wasiuta said people also go to Seedy Saturday to meet their friends and their neighbors and share an interest in growing their own food.

“It’s a neat way for the novices to chat with each other and with the experts. Even if you’re growing food for years, you’re still learning.”

There will also be plants, or starters, that are pre-grown and ready to be planted, along with fruit trees, so people can add fruits to their garden complement. Activities for kids will be available as well.

Seedy Saturday will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 27, with a suggested $5 donation at the door.

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