Seedy Saturday aims to distribute strains that flourish on P.E.I.

Mitch MacDonald
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Cooper Institute hosts seed swap at Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague public libraries

With winter seemingly on its way out, some Islanders are already looking forward to trading in their snow shovel for a garden hoe to digging into their spring garden.

A number of gardeners and producers got a head start by taking part in seed exchanges at the Charlottetown, Summerside and Montague public libraries recently.

Josie Baker, co-ordinator of the Seeds of Community project, said the "Seedy Saturday" exchanges stretch beyond North America, although were just implemented in Charlottetown three years ago.

"Basically, the idea is that people can get access to open pollinated and heirloom seeds for saving," said Baker, who is also with the Cooper Institute. "People can also bring in seeds to share, so it's a bit of a swap and a bit of  'help yourself'."

Everything from lettuce and spinach to carrots, onions, beans and a mix of herbs were available at the exchanges.

"We've just been sort of building the network of seed libraries across P.E.I.," she said.

The free seed, which was donated from gardens and farms across P.E.I., will also be available to the public at the front desk of the Confederation Centre Public Library throughout the spring.

The P.E.I. Seed Alliance, a small team of sustainable, organic farmers, is also selling high-quality, open pollinated seed for $3 a package.

Baker said those seeds have an advantage of being "tried and true" after having adapted to P.E.I.'s growing conditions.

"When you buy seeds commercially, there's more and more people noticing fewer non-hybridized varieties around, there's also poorer and poorer quality," she said. "People have noticed a variety they may have liked 10 years ago is no longer available or the quality has degraded so much it's not even worth growing, especially for commercial producers."

Baker said the exchange also encourages individuals to learn how to save their own seeds and suggested that anyone looking for more information contact the Cooper Institute.

"We encourage people to learn about saving seeds and to think about donating back in future years," said Baker. "Across P.E.I., people can bring in a donation of seed to any public library and have it sent here. We'll package it up and it will go back out again."

Organizations: Cooper Institute, Confederation Centre Public Library, P.E.I. Seed Alliance

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, North America

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