New ideas sprout at Charlottetown seed expo

Mitch MacDonald
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Mary van den Broek of Cardigan Feed Services Ltd. holds up some seed at the P.E.I. Seed Expo on Saturday.

New ideas were sprouting while old ones were unearthed during the first ever P.E.I. Seed Expo on Saturday.

Home gardening enthusiasts and farmers both had a chance to jumpstart planning for the upcoming growing season, which was hosted by the Farm Centre Association as part of its Legacy Farm initiative for 2014.

Phil Ferraro, general manager of the Farm Centre Association, said the expo’s success was overwhelming, with more than a thousand going through the farm centre’s doors by lunchtime.

“I’ve been here for 15 years and it’s probably been the largest event we’ve had,” he said. “We’ve had a really incredible mix of both farmers and gardeners. It looks to me like everyone is getting something out of it.”

The event had representatives from regional garden and farm seed companies, with three of the companies selling out of some varieties by midway through the day.

Two other tables that had been set up for trading and bartering seeds had also been cleared off early in the day.

“The whole idea is that we encourage people to take some seed home, grow a crop and then next year come back with some seed for the trading table,” said Ferraro.

Mary van den Broek of Cardigan Feed Services Ltd.  was one of the event’s exhibitors.

She said one of the best aspects of the day was the information-sharing as well as the fact that people had brought in older varieties of seeds to share.

“I think P.E.I. is able to grow a lot of stuff if we can just find the old varieties and kind of start over,” she said.

The day also gave an introduction to community garden aspect of the farm’s legacy project

The project, which is funded through the P.E.I. 2014, will see a field behind the farm centre used to create a garden that “honours the past, gives recognition to the present and helps build a vision for the future of Island agriculture,” said Ferraro.

“So we’ll be partnering with Agriculture Canada and growing crops that have actually been developed on P.E.I. in the past 100 years. We’ll also be putting in an orchard that is very bio-diverse with some heritage apples that were developed on P.E.I. as well as newer disease-resistant varieties and a mixture of fruits and nuts,” he said. “We’ll be having a community garden and events area where people will be able to have an outdoor dinner, celebrations and weddings. It should be a really fun experience.”

The garden will also have research and trial plots for experimentation with new varieties of plants.

“Sort of a farm that looks like a park in terms of the aesthetic quality as well as the productivity,” said Ferraro.

More coverage on the Legacy project and Saturday’s expo will be in Monday’s paper and e-edition of The Guardian.

Organizations: Farm Centre Association, Cardigan Feed Services, Agriculture Canada

Geographic location: Charlottetown, P.E.I., Iceland

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  • Adam MacLean
    January 19, 2014 - 11:21

    Thanks to all that came out to the Seed Expo. The Legacy Garden project received an enthusiastic response, and our list of volunteers and future community garden members grows longer. It's great to be working with you all.