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Volume 20 Issue 5
January/February 2015

Making Local Organic Food Accessible Year Round - Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) with Keith Neu

Seedy Saturday – Emerge From the Cold into the Promise of Spring

Common Cold and Flu – Are You Ready for It?
Herbs, Nutrition, Homeopathy, and More!

Wool – Mother Nature’s Miracle Fibre

Energy Therapy, Business, and Community

Colour Ray Gemstones in Health and Healing

Getting Started with Hoop Play

Thai Foot Reflexology and Massage


Seedy Saturday – Emerge From the Cold into the Promise of Spring
Stacey Tressby Stacey Tress

During the long, cold Canadian winter, gardeners enjoy attending Seedy Saturdays—a series of non-profit, public events across the country. They are organized by individuals and community groups that see a need for gardeners, seed companies, nurseries, gardening organizations, historic sites, and community groups to have a low-cost local venue where they can learn from one another, exchange ideas and seeds, and purchase seeds and plants in a comfortable, social setting.

Seedy Saturday and Seedy Sunday are catch-phrases used for seed swap events that bring the public together with seed savers, in order to maintain and develop the open pollinated and heritage crop cultivars that are a resource in a community. The titles Seedy Saturday/Seedy Sunday are dedicated to the public domain by the event founder, Sharon Rempel.

The heart of a Seedy Saturday/Sunday event is the swapping and sale of seeds or other propagation material for public-domain plant cultivars that have been preserved or developed by individuals or families. These may not require high-input agriculture and are variously described as landraces, folk varieties, farmer varieties, and heritage seed. Sharing information about the social, cultural, and culinary aspects of the seed is an important part of heritage seed saving around the world. “The festival was and still is organized to celebrate the diversity of seed and the culture of growing food locally, connecting consumers and those interested in food security with seed sellers, rural and urban food producers, health professionals, and others. Festival organizers have always held this event for people to learn about gardening, nutrition, seed saving, composting, home preserving, and sourcing fresh food as key components of local food security.”—Warren Crossman, President, Assiniboine Food Security Alliance (AFSA), Yorkton, SK

The idea of conserving heritage varieties of garden and field crops was in its infancy in Canada in 1989. It was very difficult to find heritage varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and grains. The Heritage Seed Program of Canadian Organic Growers, now the independent charitable organization Seeds of Diversity, had started in 1984.

The first Seedy Saturday event was organized by Sharon Rempel. It was held at the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia, in spring 1990. Over 500 people came to hear talks about seeds, swap and buy seeds, and share their stories.

In Canada, Seedy Saturdays/Sundays continue to be locally or regionally organized events. Almost all of them occur in the late winter. The first event was held in 1990, around Valentine’s Day, because seed is the heart of food security for all communities.

The number of events increases every year, with over 110 held across Canada in 2013. At the core of each one, is a dedicated organizer, often a member of Seeds of Diversity, who provides vision, time, and talent for their day. Many individuals help organizers with their events. The energy, enthusiasm, and efforts of dedicated volunteers make these occasions a success. Event attendance ranges from approximately 50 people to over 1,000. However, the success of a day is not judged by its attendance but rather by the eager participation of the attendees.

The Regina Horticultural Society (RHS) participated last year (2014) as an exhibitor at the Regina event. “It was a sunny and brisk –52ºC winter day, but we were really excited at the opportunity to connect with like-minded people who love gardening,” said RHS President Denise Mlazgar.

“The Seedy Saturday organizers did an outstanding job setting up a fun, interactive, and well-attended event. We were able to publicly launch our annual funding program that morning, too. It’s called GRIN (Growing Roots In the Neighbourhood). It was a great fit! Our volunteers had a terrific time meeting new and old acquaintances and are looking forward to next year’s event,” said Susan Nadon, RHS director for education and events.

The beauty of this kind of event is that it raises awareness about seed sovereignty and food security, while building community. Children are welcome and included in this day, usually with a special table or program for them. 

“One of the elements the Regina Seedy Saturday focuses on is the children’s area. In it, they have a “Do Touch” table, based on the understanding that children are tactile and they gather information through their sense of touch. Things like pussy willows, popcorn on the cob, and various types of seeds are available for them to touch and experience. Measuring spoons, cups, pots, and bowls are available for them to use for exploring seeds and grains. Crafts from painting rock row-markers, to making and filling seed envelopes, to painting what their garden looks like, are part of the activities in which children can participate. Also, essential to their area is a planting opportunity. Beans and seeds are provided along with recycled containers so they can plant peas and bean seeds to take home and watch them grow,” said Sharon Pratchler, Regina Seedy Saturday Organizer

In general, the region where the event is held dictates both the topics and speakers who naturally lend themselves to that area. Examples of past presentation topics around Saskatchewan include Introduction to Permaculture, Food Drying Demonstrations, Raised Bed Gardening, Tomato Growing, Potatoes, Seed Saving, and more.

At the heart of each day is the seed exchange. Everyone is welcome to bring their extra seed (preferably non-gmo) to leave at the seed swap table. In exchange, they may pick up a different seed of their choice. This is a fun and interactive part of the seed festival—often with extra seed left at the end of the event being donated to the local community garden.

Rachelle Ternier of Prairie Garden Seeds had this to say: “It is amazing to see how the interest in seeds and gardening is growing through the Seedy Saturday/Sunday initiatives across the prairies. Connecting with people at these events who want to grow food and learn about seed saving is the most rewarding part of our work. Food connects us all, and most of our food comes from seeds! Taking back control of food is about decentralizing our highly centralized food system, and that’s what we are doing by growing and saving seeds. The diversity that exists within all of the food crops we know is amazing, thousands of varieties of tomatoes, beans, and corn for example, and this is showcased at Seedy Saturdays/Sundays. Seeds are our collective responsibility to grow and save if we want to have any say in what we are eating. This is why it is so important that we have community gatherings and celebrations centred around seeds, and that is what these events are all about.” (www.prseeds.ca)

2015 List of Seedy Saturdays across the Prairies

Also check www.seeds.ca for up-to-date information for each event.

Saturday, February 21st—Winnipeg, MB
Sunday, February 22nd—Brandon, MB
Saturday, February 28th—Regina, SK
Sunday, March 1st—Moose Jaw, SK
Saturday, March 7th—Saskatoon, SK
Saturday, March 14th—Yorkton, SK
Sunday, March 15th—Estevan, SK
Saturday, March 21st—Calgary, AB
Saturday, March 21st—Red Deer, AB
Sunday, March 22nd—Edmonton, AB
Saturday, March 28th—North Battleford, SK
Saturday, April 25th—Prince Albert, SK


Black Bean Coconut Fudge

1-3/4 cups cooked black beans such as Black Turtle Bush Bean
3/4 cup cocoa powder
6 tbsp coconut oil
10–12 tbsp maple syrup (or raw honey works well, too)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with an “S” blade and blend until totally smooth. Mixture will be thick.

Line an 8”X4” pan with plastic wrap and transfer fudge mixture to pan, spreading it to edges. Refrigerate until totally firm. Use plastic wrap to lift fudge from pan. Cut into squares and serve. Store in refrigerator. Makes 24 pieces or 12 servings.

Per Serving: 146 calories, 6.9 grams fat, 2.5 grams protein, 18.4 g carbs, 4.9 g fibre, 101 mg sodium

Recipe courtesy of Laureen LaBrash of LaBrash Homestead Organics. They sell the heirloom Black Turtle Bush Beans that can be used for this recipe. www.haleoasis.net

Roasted Pumpkin

1 pumpkin of your choice (I love the versatile Sugar Baby variety that I buy from Prairie Garden Seeds, www.prseeds.ca)
Cream, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper all at your discretion.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Take pumpkin and cut into four pieces (remove innards and seeds; save seeds to roast later!). Place on pan skin side down and roast in oven for about an hour or until you can easily press into it with a fork. To remove skin hold piece in hand and gently cut along as close to skin as possible. You will be left with the soft flesh. From here you can mash it and eat, or mash/whip it with butter and other seasonings. You can even make pumpkin pie from this step! To freeze for later date, don’t cook it so long in the oven as you want to be able to cut it into chunks/cubes for freezing.

Recipe courtesy of Stacey Tress, Garden Therapy Yorkton

Bulk of information came from interviews with Seedy Saturday organizers and vendors

Stacey Tress, a Holistic Nutritional Therapist (HNT), lives in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, with her husband and two daughters. She is the owner of Garden Therapy Yorkton which offers skill-building workshops, design work, organically-grown produce, and more! To learn more, please contact Stacey at 306-641-4239, email: stacey.gardentherapy@gmail.com, www.gardentherapyyorkton.ca, or on facebook. Also, see the display ad on page 9 of the 20.5 January/February issue of the WHOLifE Journal.


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