Monday, January 24, 2011

Five Shiny Purple Seeds

Scarlet Runner Bean Seeds
I hold in my hand five shiny, purple, seeds.  They have come from inside an old medicine bottle that my grandmother Mavis gifted to me many years ago.  With the seeds came a small handwritten note.

“These seeds are from your great grandfather’s garden.  He saved the seeds from his Scarlet Runner beans each year.  I thought you might want to try them out in your own garden.  Love Grandma Mavis”.

I started with eight of these purple seeds and I tried to germinate them one seed at a time over three years…careful not to waste the chance to grow the exact beans my family had feasted on two generations ago.  Each year the bean seed failed in some way and after the third failure I felt that just having the seeds themselves would have to satisfy me.

These days I keep those five seeds in my desk at the BC Legislature to remind myself of my connection to agriculture and why I entered politics. 

If you are like me, this time of year is even more exciting than the holidays because in your mailbox you will be receiving, not Christmas cards, but the  2011 Seed Catalogs. Nothing is better on a cold winter afternoon than having a hot cup of tea, a stack of seed catalogs, and the thrill that comes from planning the current years’ harvest.  Fabulous!

The value of local seed and the importance of supporting local seed companies is becoming more significant these days.  As the climate changes and our growing conditions change, local seeds are changing too.  They are evolving to conditions and hopefully adapting to the changes in our environment.  This is all part of the sustainability equation. 

It troubles me that a few major corporations have control over the majority of our seed supply.  This is not healthy for our communities, for our local economies or for the diversity and health of our seed banks.  Supporting local seed companies is investing in our future.  Supporting local seed companies also supports the economic development of our local economies.  Money spent at the local level is re-spent at the local level.  Plus it helps farmers diversify their incomes. 

Our local seed savers are playing a critical role as far as food security goes.  As my friend Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds says “save seeds like our lives depend on it”…because they really do.

This time of year brings one of my most favorite events into our communities.  Seedy Saturday!  Below are some of the BC Seedy Saturday locations and dates.   Maybe I will see you there!


  • Qualicum Beach, Feburary 5th, at the Qualium Beach Civic Centre (10am-4pm) Visit their site for information on an array of topics from speakers to vendors and more!
  • Salt Spring Island, Feb. 12, 2007 Held at the Farmers Institute, Salt Spring Island from 10-3pm
  • Victoria, Feburary 19th, at the Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas Street Victoria (10am-3pm)
  • VanDusen Botanical Garden, Feburary 26th, 37th and Oak Street Vancouver (10am-4pm)
  • Sooke, Feburary 26th, Sooke Community Hall (10am-4pm)
  • Courtenay, March 5th, at the Filberg Centre (10am-3pm) in downtown Courtenay comprehensive vendor list (complete with e-mail and web links) available 
  • Nanaimo, March 6th, at the Bowen Park Auditorium (10am-4pm)
  • Cobble Hill, March 12th, at the Cobble Hill Hall (10am-3pm)