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Material provided by Susan Penstone, Box 329, Wabamun, Alberta, Canada, T0E 2K0 Phone/Fax (403) 892-4743; Email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Seedy Saturday began eight years ago in Vancouver BC Canada, has spread into a two day "Miracle of Seeds" event in Victoria BC Canada; happens throughout Western Canada and is rapidly spreading across Canada. Depending on the size of the event, it can take from 10 - 250 hours to set up, costs very little money and encourages many groups to come together for the event.
is a day donated to seeds
gives folks a chance to swap and sell open pollinated seeds grown in the region and talk to other growers
brings the various components of a regional biodiversity conservation strategy together
hopes they will network together to save the region's genetic material
Setting one up:
First identify the various groups in your area who work with seeds: University plant scientists (breeders); members of the Heritage Seed Program; botanical gardens, local organic farming and gardening groups, local wild flower societies; local seed companies selling open pollinated varieties; historic sites with heritage gardens; local seed savers and gardeners; retired agronomists, etc. Find out who the contact people are and call them and ask if they will come with a display for the day.
Think about a good location:
A centrally located facility is ideal, with room for the central display space and ideally a classroom for the ongoing lecture/workshop seminars. You will need tables for people to set up displays and some chairs behind the tables for the display people. Ideally no admission or an admission by donation policy so no one can be prohibited by attending because of admission costs. Parking is a concern, as is the timing of an event (Stanley Cup weekend, Easter, large social event in town are not good times)
Decide when to hold the event:
Spring is good. In some areas folks divide perennials and bring them to swap (so spring or fall could be considered). In some areas, scion wood is also sold or swapped or tubers or rhizomes sold or swapped. Plan enough in advance to get your information out to societies for their newsletters, etc. Six months is a good lead-time, but you can do it in 2-3 months.
Think about the education component of the event:
Invite local experts in various components of seed conservation to speak in the classroom. For example, in Edmonton Sharon Rempel spoke on the USC Canada's Seeds of Survival program, as well as the role Heritage Seed Program play in thinking globally, acting locally. Our local Dr. Robinson talked on heritage chickens. Simple but very effective. Many folks complain they hate missing the talks while manning a display table or swapping seeds when talks are on. That's the biggest problem of Seedy Saturday (too much going on at once - what a wonderful problem to have!)
Ideally a local catering service provides healthy food items for sale. The refreshment area is a great place for folks to share information on growing plants, etc. Make sure you have an area near to the seed swap table where folks can sit, talk about plants, etc. and have a cup of tea.
Make a pretty poster that you spread all over your region:
Make a one page press announcement and send it out to every radio show, paper, etc.
Selling seeds, plants, etc:
Make sure you bring integrity to the event. Invite small companies that sell open pollinated seeds, not hybrids. Many people will not have seeds to swap the first year so will need to buy seeds. At the end of the day, it is hoped that commercial outlets (seed companies, food services, etc) contribute 10% of the day's sales as a donation to the event. You will be amazed at the amount they make during the day.
Set up a donations box by the door:
Make a sign telling people what the money will go towards. Donations go to various conservation projects and to cover costs associated with your event. The set up committee can decide what to donate money to. Canada's Heritage Seedy Program has received at $8000 from Seedy Saturdays over the past few years; USC Canada's Seeds of Diversity about $2500.
Link heritage animal conservation:
This was linked with seeds two years ago. Dr. Frank Robinson is a heritage chicken breed conservator - he brought 6 cages of old varieties of chickens for display.
Think about becoming informed about seed saving:
- How to Save Your Vegetable Seed. Heritage Seed Program (under $10)
- The Heirloom Gardener. Carolyn Jabs. Sierra Club. 1984
- Shattering. Food, Politics and the Loss of Genetic Diversity. Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney. University of Arizona Press. 1990
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