With the end of winter just around the corner, green thumbs are undoubtedly getting excited for all that spring has to bring.
Seedy Saturday events are held on the cusp of winter’s end. It gives gardeners a chance to buy or swap seeds and get to know their fellow planters.
“We have many vendors who have their whole family involved in it, and we know each other through this event, and other events. It’s just organic. It’s sprawling, and it grows just like our gardens.”
Pratchler said seed saving and sharing, while building community, also ensures local gardeners have access to a diverse and secure source of seeds, while also knowing the heritage of the seeds in question.
“Saskatchewan has a very interesting heritage with its seeds because as our immigrant population arrived in the late 1880s, they would bring seeds sewn into the hem of their clothes,” she said.
According to Pratchler, a new wave of that is happening again with the growing immigrant population in Saskatchewan.
How raised beds brought neighbours together
Anno Bell, one of the presenters at Seedy Saturday, started growing a garden in the front yard of her home in Regina’s northwest. She inadvertently started growing a community of her own at the same time.
“Our backyard has an enormous, beautiful tree that we love, and a garage and a fence,” Bell told CBC Radio’s Saskatchewan Weekend. “Between those things there wasn’t a lot of sun in our backyard.”
Her front yard was filled with grass that was under-appreciated according to Bell. Her family decided to transfer their backyard garden into their front yard.
By doing so, she started growing a community of gardeners around her. She found people who were walking by started chatting her up about the garden.
“I find that, living in 2019, we tend to come home, get in our garage, walk to our house, we don’t spend a lot of time outside,” Bell said.
She said when her family moved to Regina, they weren’t spending any time in their front yard and she noticed her neighbours weren’t spending any time in their front yard.
Once she started gardening, more and more people would stop by for a quick conversation. Eventually, more gardens started sprouting in the homes around Bell’s.
Fostering a blooming community
One day, while Bell was out for a walk, she found her neighbours had a garden in their side yard that featured some Egyptian Walking Onions.
“They’re kind of the first thing that comes up in the spring, and then the seedheads grow, and they fall over, and the seedheads make new babies in the soil,” Bell said. “I mentioned that we were gardening too, and [my neighbour] said ‘oh that’s great.'”
She came home a few days later and found a bag of Egyptian Walking Onions hanging from her mailbox to plant in her garden. Now, every spring, they are one of the first plants that crops up in her yard.
Bell called it a concrete example and a reminder of the community growing right in her neighbourhood.
A family who moved in across the street also took notice of Bell’s garden.
She said they’re from Pakistan, and because she knew they use a lot of mint in their cooking, she brought over a bag of herbs for them.
“They were thrilled and through that kind of friendship development, we didn’t have much language in common, but we managed to piece together that their family had farmed,” she said.
“We would talk about the differences in farming, because ultimately we turned our front yard into a farm.”
Along with those two conversations with neighbours, Bell noted people driving along McIntosh Street also noticed her garden.
She said people will often stop by and ask how they’re able to grow tomatoes that look as nice as hers do. Someone even took the time to knock on her door to ask about the garden.
Now, Bell said she’s started a micro-business around building raised beds for people to start their own gardens — another way she’s growing a community around Regina.
While she is delivering the raised beds, Bell said she gets a chance to offer advice to people about how to convert their front yard into a garden or how to grow food where grass grows.
She spoke on those topics, and about how her family got into gardening at Seedy Saturday.
Seedy Saturday sweeps Saskatchewan
While Regina’s Seedy Saturday is over, the event is set to take place in Saskatoon on March 9. One day later, Indian Head will host a Seedy Sunday event.
On March 23, people in North Battleford will have an opportunity to swap seeds, and on March 24, people in Meadow Lake will host their gathering.