With another gardening season coming up, the L.P Fisher Public Library hosted a workshop last Saturday for Carleton County seed savers. The activity room of the Library’s Thompson Centre was set up with displays of seeds and seed-saving information. The program included lively presentations by expert seed savers and a seed planting exercise for the kids. Thirty-four participants were in attendance from 11 a.m. until after 3:30 p.m.
The room buzzed with conversation during the breaks while folks enjoyed local organic apples, homemade cookies, and herb tea. This seed savers’ get-together has a long history having been started 25- years ago by Leland Daugherty as the Maritime Seed Swap. In recent years it has been held in the Knowlesville area and promoted as Seedy Saturday. Tegan Wong-Daugherty, working with L.P. Fisher Library director Jennifer Carson has now brought the Carleton County branch of the Maritime Seed Swap to the Library in Woodstock, and the turn out on Saturday indicates this is a good move.
The program started off with Matthew Culberson giving a wide ranging talk on his seed saving experience, which included illustrating on a white board the difference between male and female squash blossoms, and a quick sketch of how to build a corncrib. Next up, Alex Murray gave a report on the science and practice of recycling nitrogen rich urine into fertilizer. After a break, David Vermont gave an enthusiastic account of his selective seed saving and his development of new varieties of garden vegetables, like a fully blight resistant tomato that, although remaining green when fully ripe, tastes just like a red tomato.
Other participants spoke briefly about certain vegetables they were growing from saved seed including the mangelwurzel, which is a large beet grown principally for livestock fodder, but can also be prepared for the table. It was once known as“survival food” because it stores so well and was the last root vegetable left at the end of a hard winter. The speakers, although primarily gardeners and farmers, displayed a thoroughly scientific approach to the work of seed saving and experimenting with plants, soil, and food security. The big idea of seed saving, and of working with varieties well adapted to our climate, is to increase food security. Saving seed from your own crops is a good way to reduce the cost and increase control of food supplies.
At the end of the program, Tegan Wong-Daugherty introduced the Community Seed Library. The Maritime Seed Swap will be working with the L.P.Fisher Public Library to bring this new community service to the Woodstock region. The Library will be a depository and an exchange service for local seed savers. Participants can deposit seeds they wish to share and pick up seeds the wish to try out. The seed library idea is taking root in other communities. The Fredericton Public Library has the service in place. The Community Seed Library will officially launch on March 19 at the L.P. Fisher Library.