February 9, 2010 - Local food starts at home

By Fred Davies- Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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The heart of local food security starts with having a collection of seed that people can save and grow year after year.

That’s the premise behind Seedy Saturday that held its eighth annual installment at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre February 13.

“The seeds you find here are all open-pollinated and haven’t been genetically modified,” said Joy Smith, chair of the Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday Association. “I would hazard a guess that we are the top attended Seedy Saturday in Canada ... We have 75 vendors this year and this morning we are right on target for last year’s attendance of 1,850 people.”

Central to the event’s success is the seed swap where patrons can bring in their own seeds, that are then exchanged for chits used to purchase from the hundreds of available varieties brought in for trade.

“People love to look for heritage tomatoes and this year there seems to be a lot of interest in squash,” said volunteer Joanne Moger amid the thronging crowd gathered at the swap table. “There’s an interest, I think, in eating more home grown vegetables.”

More than just a place to swap seeds however, the day offered plenty of opportunity for education and purchase of gardening related wares as well. Farmer’s from across the region had fresh produce to sell while seminars on topics like the Zero Mile Diet and ways to preserve your bounty attracted standing room only crowds.

“A lot of people are coming for information. They’re not just buying seeds,” said Smith who added proceeds are used to support gardening related enterprises in the local community.

“Last year we were very generous to the community garden because it was their first year. We helped them get fencing.”