Lee Sanmiya, seed exchange coordinator for Seedy Sunday, gets hands on with sunflower seeds. Seedy Sunday happens at NDSS on March 4. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Seedy Sunday in Nanaimo focuses on its roots

Event happens March 4 at Nanaimo District Secondary School

Nanaimo gardeners plotting for the spring season can swap seeds and get advice at this weekend’s Seedy Sunday.

Nanaimo Community Gardens and Nanaimo Foodshare are hosting Seedy Sunday on March 4 with workshops, vendors and a seed exchange.

Seedy Sunday started in 2002 as a much smaller event and a kind of protest for people to trade seeds and not have to buy them from seed companies, according to event coordinator Glenda Stroomer, who noted it was a time when bigger companies weren’t selling certain seeds anymore and trying to make it so people couldn’t save their own.

Now it’s typical for 800 people to turn out at the event, which has expanded to include more than 65 vendors, a master gardeners’ panel and nine workshops in everything from saving vegetable seeds to caring for mason bees and making compost.

“We have seen it grow,” said Stroomer, who says part of it is that it’s a sign of spring coming and people get excited.

But the event is still true to its roots.

“We still want to emphasize the seed exchange part of that. That’s really what it’s all about,” she said.

Lee Sanmiya, who co-ordinates the seed exchange, said organizers like to keep the focus on the seeds because they are the basis of the gardening and horticulture people do. People bring seeds they’ve saved, volunteers label and package them and people trade.

Participants enjoy the different seeds they don’t see in catalogues, ones they’ve never heard of before and really like talking to the people who saved the seeds because there can be stories around them, said Sanmiya, adding sometimes the exchange is used to get cheap seeds and there could be surprises with cross-pollination if people don’t save seeds correctly.

“But that’s part of the fun of it,” she said.

Sanmiya, on the draw of the event, points to an increase in people growing their own food, an increase in people’s understanding of local food production and the need, and expensive groceries.

“I’m hoping that it’s just a growing awareness that what we really need to do is have a little bit of self-sufficiency, especially here on the Island,” she said.

Admission is $3 for the event, which runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at NDSS. Parking is limited and it’s recommended people carpool, bus or walk.

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