Gardeners busy as bees at Seedy Saturday show

Seeds, fertilizer, plants, food and much more were on display at the Seedy Saturday seed and garden show in Victoria on Saturday.

For many — Claudia Hilton among them — the gardening season starts after the annual event, held the third Saturday in February. She’s looking forward to growing rhubarb from seed donated this year.

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Hilton volunteers in the seed exchange, which allows participants package their own seeds, label them, and drop them off to share with others. She said you never know what will come in. Someone dropped off date palm seeds this year.

At the Bees Please Farm display, honeybees bustling around their hive were a study in non-stop motion. Owner Kate Fraser said the aim is not so much to produce honey but rather to help the environment by supporting pollinators.

By mid-summer, a hive can be house up to 70,000 honeybees, she said.

She rents out hives two at a time and visits them several times a month to add feed, medicate them if necessary, and make sure they are buzzing along smoothly. Prices vary depending on location, she said.

“I do all the work,” Fraser said, adding she would like to see hives set up throughout the community.

Circles formed about Thomas Aulich when he talked about his organic skiitake and oyster mushroom kits, selling for $10 each. Buyers left with a bag filled with milled alder and rice bran, inoculated with mushroom culture. Keep them in a humid place and pretty soon mushrooms will pop up.

Aulich is one of three owner-managers of Salt Spring Sprouts and Mushrooms.

People are keen to have “direct contact with the farmer to see where the food is coming from, understand what the practices are and the values of the people who are growing food,” he said.

Amber Brown is taking over the role of event organizer from mentor Pat McGuire.

Victoria’s Seedy Saturday typically attracts about 2,200 people, Brown said. She said she first heard of the idea of trading seeds when a local farmer spoke to a class at the University of Victoria.

“I thought, ‘What an amazing idea to promote seed diversity, plant diversity, local food security, getting people growing their own food.’ It’s a great community of people coming together.”

McGuire said the number of growers has increased over the years. “People are getting into growing and saving seeds, so we are developing a local seed economy here.”

Vancouver Island’s next Seedy Saturday is next weekend in Sooke, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Sooke Community Hall, 2037 Shields Rd.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

• For more Seedy Saturday information, go to seeds.ca/events.

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