Anyone interested in the ABCs of gardening should make a beeline to Seedy Saturday in Trail this weekend.
Local growers, soil experts and seed swappers are back for a second year, offering gardening wisdom and greening ideas to visitors of all ages from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in St. Andrew’s Anglican Church.
“Because we are a volunteer group, Seedy Saturday provides a low cost venue for gardeners, seed companies, nurseries, gardening organizations and community groups, to learn from one another,” says Gina Ironmonger from incrEDIBLE trail, the hosting group. “And to exchange ideas and seeds that is for the benefit of all. We have seed that has brought here by family’s from all over the world and has been acclimatized and we would like to preserve it for future generations.”
New to the event but already creating a buzz is the West Kootenay Beekeepers Association – Trail beekeeper Karen Godbout will be on hand sharing honey straight from the comb as well as insight about the art of apiculture.
Godbout cares for her “girls” (queen bees) in two hives at Castlegar’s Selkirk College community garden.
For many years she has spoken to youth and other community groups about the importance of supporting bee colonies worldwide.
“Having your own honey is really cool,” she chuckled. “But it is only a fringe benefit – it’s really about food security and supporting biodiversity in the environment.”
Another Seedy Saturday “how-to” booth with a focus on native pollinators, the Monarch butterfly, is courtesy the Kootenay Native Plant Society.
Members will talk about creating Monarch way stations with plants that support the insects’ migration.
Sightings of the distinctive butterflies are rare these days, partly due to changing climate and the removal of milkweed from fields.
“We try to take the needs of our community into consideration and appeal to gardeners of all ages,” Ironmonger said. “For the young there will be a planting workshop where they can learn how a seed grows, then they can plant a seed, take it home, watch it grow and enjoy the future harvest.
“They can stop by and visit Betty Offin and her wiggly composting worms,” she continued. “And there will be a huge variety of open pollinated seeds and plants from local farmers and gardeners, and a seed swap table and sale.”
Last year, Ironmonger planted seeds that were brought to Trail from Europe decades ago.
“Earthy Organics provided us with his father’s seeds,” she explained. “We grew roma tomatoes, romano pole beans, tomatillos and peppers, and we will be growing them again this year.”
She encourages visitors to look for local historic varietals, including one she discovered by chance.
A particular plum tomato originating in Italy, was brought to the area more than 25 years ago by the Maida family from Nelson.
“I was working in Procter last summer and a gentleman was growing the roma (plum) tomatoes from seed,” Ironmonger said. “But it had also found its way to Vancouver Island and is now coming to Seedy Saturday courtesy the Metchosin Farm as Maida’s Kootenai Giant. Look for it on our seed exchange table.”
The event is part of incrEDIBLE trail’s bigger picture, which is to highlight the kindness and giving nature of the Trail community that resulted in international recognition from Communities in Bloom, she added.
“This small city’s big heart was on display to the world last year when we were asked to present incrEDIBLE trail and Trail’s incrEDIBLE Green Route at the National Convention.”
And word of the Trail growing initiative continues to spread.
Plans to expand the Gulch Community Food Bank Garden and Green Route are underway, and incrEDIBLE trail is reaching out to community groups and schools on a “Farm to Table” program, says Ironmonger.
The group has also partnered with Selkirk College, Trail campus, to provide a series of gardening courses in April, called “What to plant in Trail and when to plant it.”
Then on July 9, the group’s first Regional Garden and Art Tour with luncheon is slated at the Columbia Gardens Vineyard, combining music, art and a garden tour. Tickets go on sale in May.
“We are a humble lot so I am not sure how many people know this,” Ironmonger shared. “But we should all be proud to call Trail, home.”