For as much as Victoria’s rainy winter has seemingly gone on forever, the coordinator of the James Bay Market Society’s annual Seedy Saturday says spring is on the way.
“This is Victoria’s premier garden show and there’s a reason we’ve been around for more than 25 years,” said Amber Brown, adding this weekend’s show (Feb. 17) offers a good chance to start imagining this year’s garden.
“We go way beyond simply offering the sale of seeds, tools and other gardening materials by really promoting the educational side of things. We have a full program of 18 speakers who will cover everything from the very basic gardening techniques to more specialized and advanced topics. ”
Several of those speakers will augment their presentations with hands-on opportunities, for those who want to get a little dirt under their fingernails in preparation for the gardening season.
There will also be a group of 64 vendor booths offering everything one might imagine when it comes to gardening.
Another favourite attraction at Seedy Saturday is the ever-popular seed exchange. That’s where gardeners have the opportunity to trade extra saved seeds from their garden, perhaps for a new and exciting variety they’ve never before seen.
“What really drives me to work on this show is that I’ve seen the increased level of control exercised by governments and corporations over the supply of seeds,” Brown said.
“There are seeds that are engineered and infused with chemicals, and some of the basics are being forgotten. We want to be supporting local food production and the option for seeds that are organic and varied, so we can enhance the choices we have when planting our gardens.”
It’s a passion shared by scores of Victoria gardeners, with ever-increasing attendance at the show serving to inspire the organizers and more than 100 volunteers that make the show possible. Last year’s attendance topped 2,200, and Brown noted that young people are becoming increasingly interested in the gardening culture.
“It’s something we feel very passionately about, because we recognize the long-term benefits of creating that connection with the land, and educating young people about raising food in an urban environment,” she said.
To that end, the Market Society has involved the Youth Food Network and has introduced attractions like a photo backdrop that will let visitors take ‘selfies’ in what appears to be a hugely successful garden.
And, for curious visitors with a more analytical approach to gardening, Camosun College has donated the use of a series of microscopes to allow folks to see close up what makes up the variety of seeds and plants on offer.
The one-day show takes place this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas St. Admission is $7, or free for those under 16.