Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

COVID-19 Updates News Local Spotlight Planting
Seedy Saturday goes online

Even a pandemic can’t keep B.C.’s Peace region farmers from sharing knowledge and support.


May 27, 2020
By Ronda Payne

Topics
The virtual event featured three 45-minute workshops on composting, food forests and seed saving. Photo courtesy of neat.ca.

Northeastern B.C. is filled with small communities of farmers and gardeners who care about each other despite the long distances between them. In a normal season, they look forward to getting together and sharing knowledge, and the easier travel made possible by warmer weather.

In 2018, a few farmers from the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT) formed a branch called the Northern Co-Hort. It’s made up of farmers who believe in regenerative agriculture, like Bess Legault of Hip Peace Produce in Fort St. John, B.C. who coordinates activities. The group held a popular event referred to as ‘Seedy Saturdays’ in 2019 where climate-specific seed was swapped and discussed.

“It’s fun to come together with other growers… and connect with the home grower. We’re trying to pull together a variety of rich experiences so people can have access to knowledge and have access to seeds,” Legault says. “A lot of our producers are connected to seed networks within B.C. and Canada.”

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“It’s fun to come together with other growers… and connect with the home grower. We’re trying to pull together a variety of rich experiences so people can have access to knowledge and have access to seeds,” Legault says.

Then, COVID-19 walks in and shuts down the face-to-face gatherings these northern growers rely on to share seed, swap information and provide a listening ear during the season.

While the pandemic prevented events, Legault and her fellow Co-Hort members decided there was something they could still do. They ran a virtual Seedy Saturday workshop on April 18, 2020, along with a seed sharing box outside NEAT’s office.

“Without those connections to begin with, I’m not sure we would have been able to… throw that [virtual event] together in time,” she says.

“Without those connections to begin with, I’m not sure we would have been able to… throw that [virtual event] together in time,” she says.

The three-hour session used Facebook as the front-end platform and Zoom for organizers to keep on top of questions and ensure the event flowed. The event featured three 45-minute workshops on composting, food forests and seed saving. At one point in the event, there was as many as 45 attendees.

Katy Peck of Canadian Acres Farm in Charlie Lake, B.C. said the Co-Hort group had to brainstorm quickly to bring it all together. She led the session on food forests.

“We want to bring those resources to our community because they aren’t here as much,” Peck explains. “It just kind of all came together as people who were interested and wanted to be part of this. We had to be very adaptable and flexible because we had to do it in a different way.”

She says the format could easily be adapted to other regions and the group is willing to share.

As for the seed swap box outside the NEAT office, Legault says it was built with a lot of forethought.

“There’s hand sanitizer out there. We took precautions when we put it together and asked people to do the same,” she says. “People having issues with seed access, they could come get seed from us. Some really hardy varieties, good for us here in the Peace region.”

“People having issues with seed access, they could come get seed from us. Some really hardy varieties, good for us here in the Peace region.”

The goal of the seed exchange is to help increase seed access for growing at all scales in the Peace region.

“We really hope to support a community of food growers every year, but this year in particular it is more important than ever,” the event description read, highlighting the tenacity of northern B.C. farmers to continue the season.

As B.C. reopens, the NEAT office will also be reopening starting Wednesday, May 27 at noon, but continuing to host virtual events throughout the season.

Read more about how Seedy Saturdays are part of a larger effort from B.C. seed producers and supporting organizations to encourage farmers to take back the control of local seed.