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Back to May 2016 Newsletter

Seedy Saturdays Continue to Sprout Up!

Judy Newman

This year we posted 142 Seedy Saturdays, Seedy Sundays and even Seed Wednesdays in our event list at That's a new record, growing each and every year (we had only 30 events back in 2000). These fun, community-based events take place from January to May, with the bulk of them happening in February and March.

There were also seed exchanges that took place at the launch of seed libraries across the country, and many more seed exchanges at regular meetings of gardening associations.

Seedy Saturdays can be big or small, with many displays and vendors or none at all, but the one thing they all have in common is the seed exchange, the raison d’etre of each day. Other activities have included lunches, kids’ games, workshops and speakers, and one even had a pot luck!

We salute the energy, enthusiasm and knowledge of Seedy Saturday committees and organizers. Their events support Canadian seed companies and other vendors and are a low cost, friendly way for new gardeners to learn about the wonderful world of seeds and seed sharing.

Over 40% of new members tell us that they first heard about Seeds of Diversity at a Seedy Saturday, so we especially thank our own volunteers who staff tables for us and tell our own seedy story.

Seeds of Diversity has been actively promoting Seedy Saturdays and Sundays across Canada for many years. Our free publicity of these events has helped in their growth, and that in turn has helped the "smaller" Canadian seed companies that depend on these events for sales. We also spend considerable staff time helping new organizers (31 this year), connecting them to seed companies, coaching them on how to run one of these events, and giving them resources to do it.

Commenting on the day in general, Kate Fullerton, an organizer from Scarborough, ON said, “Certainly the attendees appreciated the interesting mix of booths at the event. As one couple told me "We planned on coming for one hour but stayed for three - there were too many booths to visit and there was so much to learn.”

From an inner-city event, “This being our second Seedy Sunday in our community we are so proud of the outcome of the event. We estimate 150 families visited within our two hour session. We are thrilled to see a high-rise community with huge interest in growing food. They come to the event looking for how-to's, education, and help to get them started. We have a lot of positive feedback from the community to continue on as an annual event.”

About the day and our Seeds of Diversity exhibit, Frances Thorn, from London, ON said, “I see a lot of excitement at Seedy Saturdays. Visitors and the exhibitors are so enthusiastic about gardening and happy about the prospect of the coming season. It's like a miracle. People come to your display and love what Seeds of Diversity is about, they become friends and come back year after year. Sometimes there are so many visitors at one time to our exhibit, the atmosphere becomes party-like and that in itself attracts more people.”

Shirley Bellows, from Vancouver Island says, “I always look forward to the Seedy Saturday and Sundays. They are always high energy events plus everyone who is there is smiling and happy. People enjoy coming to our display and are so interested in the fact that our members started the first event in 1990. We get thanked for that fact and then they often stay to chat about the various concerns about seeds, GMOs, etc. There is always very positive feedback about our organization. People are usually surprised to hear about our connection with Pollination Canada. At the end of the day, my volunteers and I always feel that we represent a very worthwhile organization and that our volunteer work is a valued contribution to it.”

Speaking about the seed exchange table, Maria Kasstan says, “Toronto Seedy Saturdays are powerful community building events. There is a real international feeling that carries over to community gardens as people bring seeds from so many cultures and food traditions. The most enthusiastic will often sit in at our seed packing tables and discuss specific plants from germination to recipes.”

One organizer told us, “The seeds were only from members of Horticultural Societies in our District. It wasn’t a seed exchange at all. The people who came in were just looking for free seeds and I wasn’t made aware that anyone from the public donated any seeds.” This is an issue we should address, since we can help organizers of new Seedy Saturdays to promote seed exchanges in their communities.

Pat McGuire of the Victoria Seedy Saturday said, “Seed Exchanges are the foundation of Seedy Saturdays/Sundays. They bring people together and promote informal conversation and exchanging of information. We encourage people to try saving seeds and when they find they are successful, they contribute more seeds, become more of an advocate for seed and plant security, and are more likely to influence others in their community.”

Gillian Rowan, who has been coordinating the Victoria Seedy Saturday Seed Exchange for many years, has seen her sons grow up at the seed exchange table. When they were young they were off and on, but now they're old enough to stay all day, receiving, packaging and labeling. Two years ago, the boys even brought some of their friends to join in the Kids' Activities. Seeds are inspirational and fun for all ages, and the presence of children is very evident at Victoria’s Seedy Saturday!



Judy Newman is Seeds of Diversity's administrator, and Seedy Saturday coordinator.


Back to May 2016 Newsletter

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