Sister of Providence Kay Morrell attended Kingston Seedy Saturday for the first time this year, bringing along Sister Elise Nikiema who is a Sister of the Immaculate Conception of Ouagadougou visiting from Burkina Faso, in Africa. She wanted to share with Sister Elise an original Canadian phenomenon, Seedy Saturday, which began in Canada in the 1990s and has since spread to other countries.
Sister Kay was impressed with how well organized the event was and astonished with the size of the crowd and the large proportion of young people in attendance. This last gives her hope that the next generation is interested in growing their own food and preserving traditions and seeds of the past!
This year will be the last growing season for the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary (HSS). All seed will be divided this winter between the two partner groups, KASSI and Ratinenhayen:thos, who will steward the collection into the future, which means that this was our last year to offer our seeds and information at Kingston Seedy Saturday (KSS). The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul have been sponsoring KSS since I made the suggestion in 2009, and it has proven to be the most efficient way to share our precious, locally-adapted seeds with the Kingston community.
The event has also educated and inspired many local individuals to save their own seeds. When we first started sponsoring it, our HSS seeds were sometimes the only homegrown seeds on the seed swap table. For the last 2 years however, there has been no need to put our seeds on the swap table as it is full of homegrown seeds from enthusiastic growers who also swap stories and growing tips.
At the beginning, the HSS was responsible for hosting the seed saving workshop. Now new presenters are available who can offer more advanced workshops, such as saving seeds of biennials and cross-pollinating crops.
KSS attracts around 600 people every year, and 100% of the vendors who attend grow their own seeds in our local region, which is also a positive change from the beginnings of the event. And, perhaps most importantly, the squash soup offered for lunch at the event was made from our very own Sibley squash grown in the HSS gardens. Packets of this seed were available at our table so that others could grow it and do the same!
Because this was the last year of our participation, the KSS planning committee presented the Sisters with a framed print of the beautiful poster (made by our artist friend and former education intern Marissa Kidd). The poster mat was available all day for people to write on, noting their appreciation for the Sisters and their heirloom seed outreach over the years. Among others, Dennis Williams of the Kingston and District Agricultural Society wrote: “Dear Sisters, Thank you for saving our heritage seeds.”
by Cate Henderson, seed saver and gardener