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 120 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.