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Planting the seeds of spring

Mark your calendars – Feb. 3. Seedy Saturday by Green Venture is an opportunity to swap seeds with other gardeners, buy from small companies and share passion for gardeners. 

If you’re a gardener, there is a part of the depths of winter you always look forward to. Not the holidays, although those are often wonderful times when our outside landscapes sparkle with lights.

What I’m talking about, of course, is seed catalogue time. It’s when gardeners across Canada, and really in any northern climate, put on their cozy socks, pour a mug of something hot, and start browsing and dreaming of the season to come.

If you’re responsible and organized, you’ve probably gone and checked your existing seed stash to figure out what you already have, what you’re out of, and have made a careful plan to only purchase what you really need.

But where is the fun in that?

If you’re like the rest of us, seed catalogues are the equivalent of getting the Toys R Us catalogue when you were a kid. You’re probably already planning for way more plants than you have room for.

But what if you could go somewhere and swap seeds with other gardeners, buy seeds from a wide variety of small companies, and talk enthusiastically with other people who share your passion?

If that sounds like a Saturday well spent, then on Feb. 3 you need to head to the Hamilton Public Library’s Central Branch for Green Venture’s 14th annual Seedy Saturday.

“It’s an event run across the country, Seedy Saturday and Seedy Sunday depending on where you live, under the umbrella of Seeds of Diversity,” explains this year’s coordinator Shayla Harbridge.

She’s the interim garden coordinator with Green Venture, and after volunteering to support the event last year, she is now the person running the whole thing.

The event took place in the Wentworth Room last year and according to Harbridge, “it was packed.”

After some concerns with overcrowding, the event has moved, but not very far.

“This year, I’m very proud to share we are switching spaces within the library. This year we are going to be on the fourth floor, and we are taking over the whole space. It is three times the square footage with lots of space for vendors and for people to move around.”

The kids’ section will be in the same area this year as well, and sessions will stay on the main floor in the Wentworth Room, to give speakers and their audiences a chance to connect meaningfully. 

Each session will be followed by a 15-minute Q&A and there will even be opportunities for attendees to connect with speakers and experts beyond that.

Don’t be shy about bringing your questions, says Harbridge. 

“I always tell new beginner gardeners that gardeners love to talk about gardening, we love to give advice and help people. We’ve all gone through it.” These experts are often grateful for the advice they got early on and are almost always willing to give that back to the community.

“We’re all learning something new, and all trying something new.”

The full list of speakers will be available the third week of January online, and the vendors list soon after that. There are 30 vendors confirmed with everything from heirloom seeds to rain barrels and water management providers, to the Halton Master gardeners who will be there to answer questions.

Of course, the seed exchange table will also be back, being managed by the staff of the Historic Kitchen Garden at Dundurn Castle. Harbridge encourages everyone who can to bring a few seeds from something they love to share with others.

“You don’t need to bring seeds to take part,” explains Harbridge. “But if you have some you’d like to share, it’s a great opportunity.”

Finally, there will be a kids area with activities for the little ones that instead of being in another room, will be right in the main area, thanks to the new space at the library.

The event runs from 10 am. to 3 p.m. and there will be plenty of seeds and plenty of things to do throughout the day.  Check out the schedule to learn more.

Whether you are a beginner gardener just building your first bed, or if you’re headed down the road to breeding your own dahlias, Seedy Saturday has something for everyone. I hope to see you there.

Jason Allen is the host of The Environmental Urbanist, Tuesdays at 1:00 p.m. on 93.3 CFMU, and has been encouraging Hamiltonians to explore the outdoors for almost two decades.