Organizing one of the largest annual seed and garden shows in Victoria has become a labour of love for Pat McGuire.
Over the past 17 years, the James Bay resident has poured hundreds of volunteer hours into organizing Seedy Saturday, an event where residents can shop for locally, grown organic seeds from more than a dozen Vancouver Island seed producers.
But now, after nearly two decades at the helm, McGuire will be stepping down.
According to McGuire, it’s the right time in her life to hand the reigns of Seedy Saturday to someone else.
“It’s been a labour of love. It’s been, not a hard labour, and of course there’s the stress that comes along with organizing an event of this size, but I’ve loved it and I’ll miss it,” McGuire said.
McGuire, a member of the James Bay Market Society that currently puts on the event, originally took over Seedy Saturday from a community member, who was running it at South Park Elementary School. A parent at the school at the time, McGuire volunteered to organize the event in 2000, hosting it in the James Bay Community Centre.
Shortly after, McGuire moved it to the Victoria Conference Centre in 2002, tripling attendance and the number of vendors. It has since blossomed into the event it is today with more than 20 seed vendors and 2,200 participants annually.
This year’s event also includes 16 educational talks on planting seeds, identifying which mushrooms are edible, and growing greens on a balcony or patio.
“(Pat’s) terribly organized. She’s passionate about seeds, gardening and the preservation of original plants with no GMOs,” said Carole Elliot, board chair of the James Bay Market Society. “She grew all of the speakers . . . it’s (Seedy Saturday) really evolved.”
For McGuire, Seedy Saturday is about growing food locally in a healthy and sustainable manner.
“It’s all about looking after our food supply, saving the seeds and keeping them in circulation,” said McGuire, adding over the years, she’s seen an increase in the number of younger people who have become involved in growing their own food.
“There’s no other place in Victoria where this type of gathering takes place. Everybody who comes is happy.”
Amber Brown will be taking over as organizer. As a Victoria resident and avid gardener, with a strong belief in food diversity, Brown hopes to grow the event in years to come.
As for McGuire, she’ll continue to have a presence at the event, but in a different capacity. In the coming years, McGuire is looking forward to checking out the seed vendors and attending the talks — something she was unable to do as organizer.
The 24th annual Seedy Saturday takes place Saturday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Victoria Conference Centre.