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  • Caylie Gnyra

Seedy Saturday Brings Buzz To Library

Patrons peruse the seeds shared at the Seedy Saturday event at the Vermilion Public Library on March 23. Photo Caylie Gnyra

Seasoned gardeners and little ones alike gathered in the basement of the Vermilion Public Library on March 23 for Seedy Saturday, an opportunity to exchange seeds, foster community, and celebrate the magic of setting seeds in the soil and helping them grow.

The history of the event can be traced back to 1988 when Sharon Rempel, the manager of the historic Keremeos Grist Mill—a provincial historic site in southern B.C.—sought to find period-appropriate heritage vegetables, flowers, and wheat for the site’s heritage gardens. Inspired by the book “Seeds of the Earth” by Pat Mooney and struggling to find Canadian sources for heritage varieties that could thrive in local conditions, Rempel envisioned a gathering where gardeners, farmers, and academics could share gardening ideas, swap open-pollinated seeds, and engage in conversations about genetic diversity.

The first Seedy Saturday was held in 1990 at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, B.C., featuring both workshops and a seed exchange. In the spirit of collective commons, Rempel has kept the name “Seedy Saturday” in the public domain, and it (or “Seedy Sunday”) has been used widely for thousands of events across Canada over the last three decades.

Vermilion’s Seedy Saturday was small compared with that of larger centres, but organizers were pleasantly surprised that attendance exceeded expectations. Over 80 people came through the doors, many of whom were enthusiastic children. Although seed sharing was the focus of the event, patrons were encouraged but not required to bring anything in exchange for the seeds they took home. Organic popcorn, cantaloupe, and ceremonial tobacco were some of the more unusual seeds seen amidst the array of flower, herb, and vegetable seeds offered to and through the collective. Treats and tea were provided to encourage mingling. Volunteers helped package and label seed donations and provided direction with seed selection.

Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) offered free “Watch Me Grow” Garden Kits for families with young children, featuring a seed tray, some seed packages, and some dirt to get the little ones growing. A printout included in the garden kits outlined the benefits of gardening, noting that it encourages healthy eating, improves mood, boosts self-esteem, improves attention span, provides exercise, and encourages social bonds. For more information on the benefits of gardening, visit

The library’s Program Coordinator Amanda said, “The response today was very positive and it is always a thrill to see so many people who are enthusiastic about trying something new or coming back again because they have enjoyed their experience so much to do so. It was especially great to see so many families eager to teach their younger generations about gardening.”

Sponsors included the Town of Vermilion, FCSS, Mainstreet Hardware, and Burpees Seed representative Donna Vaters. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints helped hand out the garden kits. Everyone involved was greatly appreciated.

If you are interested in growing this season but do not have land of your own, you may be interested in a plot at the Vermilion Community Gardens. Contact the Town of Vermilion at 780-853-5358 for more information. To learn more about Rempel’s vision for biodiversity and heritage seed conservation, visit Rempel’s book “Heritage Gardens: Inspirations from our Past” is available as a free download from her website. To learn more about home-saved seeds and to explore the Canadian Seed Library of over 2,900 regionally-adapted and rare seed varieties, visit Seeds of Diversity at

Rempel is attributed as saying, “The hand that holds the seed controls the food supply. May seed always be in the hands of gardeners and farmers who will share the traditional knowledge about the seed and build community-owned seed banks. Seed is the heart of food security.”


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