Seedy Saturday is an annual event that provides a wonderful opportunity to gain knowledge about gardening on Central Vancouver Island and access to heritage seeds, plants, and garden-related supplies and tools.
The time-honoured prairie tradition of saving grains has expanded into a national initiative to save and share seeds and plants locally. Seedy Saturdays began in Vancouver in 1989 at Van Dusen Botanical Gardens with a committee headed by Sharon Rempel. Sharon also gave the event its name. In the fall of 2002 Master Gardeners and Joy Smith were busy organizing the first Seedy Saturday for Qualicum Beach. Joy had been inspired by the Seeds of Diversity, a national non-profit organization devoted to conserving non-hybrid seeds and plants for public use. This first Seedy Saturday Committee intended their purpose to be the organization of an annual event in accordance with the gardening objectives held by Seeds of Diversity and the Vancouver Island Master Gardeners’ Association. These objectives include:
Encouraging the use of public domain non-hybrid plants of Canadian significance.
Enabling the local trading of heritage and open-pollinated seeds.
Educating the public about environmentally responsible gardening practises.
In February 2003, the first Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday was held with the Seed Swap as its central inspiration. The Seed Swap continues to be the core of this event. This first Seedy Saturday attracted over 900 people. The community was hooked. Over the years the interest and attendance has continued to grow. The variety of vendors has increased, as has community participation, with over 100 volunteers signed up. 2023 attendance numbers reached approximately 3200 visitors. Seedy Saturday continues to be organized and operated completely by volunteers. Any monies collected, beyond the cost of the event, are donated to Seeds of Diversity, and to local community groups and programs.
The group of volunteers that puts Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday together usually has eight to twelve members. The members constitute the Board of Directors of the Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday Association, which is registered as a BC not-for-private-profit society. Many of the members are Master Gardeners and all are very active in the local community. The volunteer group starts work in late September and has regular meetings to ensure that all is going according to plan. A January pot-luck meal and work session is used to pre-package seeds for the seed swap. The members donate seeds from their own gardens. A meeting a few weeks after the event allows for a thorough debriefing and the laying of plans for the coming year. A gathering during the summer allows the members to relax at a pot-luck social evening.
2023/24 Committee Members
-Sue Putz – Chair, Treasurer, Supplies, Storage
-Christina Brown – Seedy Cafe, Co-Secretary
-Renata Ritter– 50/50 Raffle Co-ordinator, Co-Secretary
-Alisa Spencer– Website, Posters, Bookmarks, Event booklet, Venue floorplan layout
-Jackie & Garry Pendergast – Vendor/Exhibitor Registration
-Gord Almond– Set-up Co-ordinator, Signage
-Kim Hammond & Sally Shivers – Seed Swap Co-ordinator, Catalogues
-Murray Chantler – Publicity
-Pam Remai – Volunteer Co-ordinator
-Michalina Hunter – Social Media
On the day of the event, Seedy Saturday needs over 100 volunteers; each is assigned a two-hour shift. We have a variety of positions; we attempt to place each volunteer in a position suited for them. Come join us and have a great day!
The following list shows the variety of tasks that volunteers perform:
Front Door Control
50-50 Draw Ticket Sales
Participant Donation Collector
Seedy Café Assistants
Volunteer Coordinator Assistants
SEED SWAP HELPERS:
– Greeter/Coupon Giver
– Seed Packager
– Seed Trays Stocker
– Table Worker
– General Assistant
Over the years, various organizations and people have contributed to the Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday events. We are grateful for their contributions.
In addition to community support, many of the vendors contribute an excellent selection of door prizes that are distributed to the patrons as they enter the main hall. This broad base of support helps to make the Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday one of the most successful in the country. Thank you to all who have contributed to this success.
QBSS committee contributes to some local initiatives
Generous public support at past Seedy Saturdays has allowed us to donate to organizations such as:
-Alberni Elementary Garden Project
-Arrowview Elementary Gardening Project
-Brown Property Preservation Society
-CEAP Garden Project/KSS
-Communities In Bloom
-Denman Island School Garden
-Denman Island Community Education Society
-Eaglecrest Garden Club
-KSS Horticultural Centre and Student Farm
-Milner Gardens and Woodlands: Shoots with Roots, demonstration vegetable gardens
-Nanoose Elementary Classroom Garden Project
-Nanoose Place Landscape Project (alpine garden)
-Parksville Garden and Parkland Society (operating as Parksville Community Garden)
-Qualicum Beach Community Garden Society
-Qualicum Beach Community Safety
-Qualicum Beach Citizens On Patrol
-Qualicum Beach Civic Centre
-QB Community Orchard Project
-Qualicum Beach Elementary School Garden Club
-QB Middle School Food Garden Project
-Qualicum Beach Garden Club
-Saltspring Island Seed Sanctuary
-Seeds of Diversity Canada
-Terminator Seeds Campaign (National Farmers’ Union)
-Town of Qualicum Beach – Compost Education
-Vancouver Island Master Gardeners
An older article, but it shows the type of other activities we’re involved in.
Our work doesn’t end at 3.30 pm on the first Saturday in February as we are blessed to deliver the door prizes and an annual donation of sea soil. This is from one of our committee members who went to Nanoose Elementary School…
I had just delivered 4 of the 9 bags of Sea Soil for the School’s Garden Program. The garden is a project that the whole school is involved with. The children in all of the grades, start seeds inside, plant them outside in the spring. Part of the harvest is donated to the Community Cupboard Food Bank program next door to the school. The balance is used to educate and feed the students and teachers in the form of class salads, snack, class projects to do with science and growing, etc.
The 9 bags are part of a pallet load of bagged soil donated annually by Phoenix Forest Technologies, Inc. (Sea Soil producer) to Seedy Saturday. Seedy Saturday uses some of the soil as door prizes, and the rest is donated to Milner Garden’s “Shoots With Roots” program and area schools, including Port Alberni Elementary School, that use it in their garden programs. One of Seedy Saturday’s goals is education and it encourages schools to get children involved in gardening.
The children in the photograph are grade 1 and grade 3 students
Another Committee member went to Port Alberni Elementary School!
Even though snow was still on the ground, gardeners continue to dream and plan.
Attached are photos taken at Alberni Elementary School last week. Sue Putz, a member of the Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday Committee, had just delivered 9 bags of Sea soil for the School’s Garden Program.
The 9 bags are part of a pallet load of bagged soil that is donated annually by Phoenix Forest Technologies, Inc. (Sea Soil producer) to Seedy Saturday. Seedy Saturday uses some of the soil as door prizes, and the rest is donated to Milner Garden’s “Shoots with Roots” and area schools, including the Alberni Elementary School, that use it in their garden programs. One of Seedy Saturday’s goals is education and it encourages schools to get children involved in gardening. Organizing Committee, QBSS 2014